THE 2ND OF THE FOUR AGREEMENTS

The 2nd Agreement - Don't Take Anything Personally Nothing others do is because of you.

INTRO

Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a best selling book called The Four Agreements - I really appreciated his insights and thought how well they could be applied to Midlife. So throughout August I'll be covering them one at a time. Last week it was the 1st Agreement and today it's the Second Agreement and what Midlife has taught me in regard to it.

AGREEMENT 2 - DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

Often we define ourselves by our relationships with others - our family, our friends, our work colleagues, and even casual acquaintances (if they impose on our personal space loudly enough and long enough!) You would think that by the time we reach 50+ we'd be able to not care about the opinions of others, but (if you're like me) they still have more impact on us than we realize. We allow their opinions to colour our lives both positively and negatively.

NOTHING OTHERS DO IS BECAUSE OF YOU 

We need to remember that we're all different - we all have different opinions and beliefs that have taken years to evolve (some in a healthy manner and others much less so). Regardless of how we perceive a situation, someone else can see it in a completely different light - neither is truly right or wrong, they just see it through their own lens.

It's so helpful to remember this when we're feeling upset or offended - or we're feeling belittled or picked on. Quite often the perpetrator is caught up in their own belief system and it's not you - it's them. They make their judgements from their world view and we can get caught in the fallout. We need to allow others to disagree with us or hold a different opinion and free ourselves from taking offence at the drop of a hat. What one person sees as funny, others see as hurtful, what one person sees as being truthful, others see as being unkind. We all interpret interactions differently - and we need to remember that before we let our feelings get hurt.

WHAT OTHERS SAY AND DO IS A PROJECTION OF THEIR OWN REALITY, THEIR OWN DREAM

It’s unrealistic to think we won't be personally affected when someone close to us is dismissive or critical or unkind. We can't control how others behave towards us - we can set boundaries in place and ask them to be respected, but we can't force others to behave exactly how we wish. The only person we can control is ourselves - we have the power to choose how we react towards others. 

Sometimes we need to pause and assess, rather than jumping to conclusions. Have we misinterpreted what was said? Are we being a little bit "precious" about our response? Are we reading things into the situation that the other person didn't intend? If despite our best intentions, we still see the other person being unkind, angry or critical, we still get to choose whether we take that personally, or whether we see it as the other person's issue and problem overflowing onto us. Creating a little bit of space and taking a moment before responding can put things into perspective.

All the sadness and drama you have lived - Don Miguel Ruiz quote

WHEN YOU ARE IMMUNE TO THE OPINIONS AND ACTIONS OF OTHERS, YOU WON'T BE THE VICTIM OF NEEDLESS SUFFERING

Wouldn't it be lovely if we could be immune to the words and actions of others? How nice it'd be to never be hurt by gossip or malicious comments. I'd love to be so confident in myself that I could let all that flow over me and not be hurt or wounded by others who are only too happy to let their opinions crowd out mine.

As far as I can see, there are two ways to develop immunity - we can learn to forgive those who intentionally or unintentionally hurt us, and we can learn to offer a heartfelt apology when we cause pain to others.

PRACTICE FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness is an action - not just a feeling. We choose to forgive a hurt - often without receiving the apology we believe we're entitled to. We learn not to hold onto the grievance, but to let it go and to move on. It's not necessarily about forgetting what was done to us, but it's about learning from it and choosing to not put ourselves in a position for it to happen again. Forgive them but protect yourself from further damage.

APOLOGIZE

I read a wonderful quote that says:

Apologizing doesn't always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right.
Apologizing just means that you value your relationship with them more than your ego.

This sums it up beautifully - sometimes it pays to be the bigger person, to suck it up and say sorry - even if you think they are just as much to blame. Part of being a grown-up is being able to acknowledge your part in a disagreement and to offer a heartfelt apology to clear the air and show grace towards the other person. The sooner the situation is mended, the less likely it is to escalate - and I see that as a win/win!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you able to forgive, apologize and move on? Have you learned not to take things personally, or do you slip back into taking offence at times?


The 2nd Agreement - Don't Take Anything Personally Nothing others do is because of you.

To keep up to date with my posts, feel free to add your email into the spot especially for it on my sidebar and I'd love you to share this post by clicking on a share button before you go xx
This post was shared at some of these great link parties

www.crestingthehill.com.au - Thursday's Thought

37 comments

  1. Gosh, this is so apropos, Leanne. One of my strengths is I can usually (notice I say usually) see both sides of something. So when someone says something disparaging, I do try to look at it from their angle. But heck, I'm still human, and there are some things that hurt a ton.
    Can you believe my mom just told me that in one of my Instagram photos, my nose looks huge?? That woman!!! Well, it is huge, I guess, so there's no getting around that. Heck, she born me....
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aren't mothers just the weirdest people Jodie? One minute they are our biggest cheerleader - and the next they're pointing out the size of our nose! If it's any consolation, I've never noticed what size your nose is - I'm too busy looking at the sunglasses you're wearing!

      Delete
  2. I was listening to a foodie podcast the other day with Adam Liaw. When he was asked how he doesn't take the "feedback" he's given personally he said that the words that hurt are those that expose a doubt or a flaw that's within us - that the hurt is our problem. I have issues with boundaries and put so much of me onto others - and vice versa - that this is something I truly struggle with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have that deep insecurity that always seems to be waiting for someone to confirm it Jo - so it's easy to perceive criticism and to have my feelings hurt. I'm getting better at toughening up and letting stuff bounce off - other people can carry a lot of drama and criticism around with them and I don't want to take that on board any more.

      Delete
  3. Not taking things personally is important advice, Leanne. Even though, at times, I find it hard not to take the bait. I love the definition that you provided for 'apologizing' -- so true!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still guilty of taking things on that weren't intended to be upsetting to me Donna - it's so easy to read stuff into situations - especially if the other person is projecting that they're upset and extrapolating it out to being about me. I think I'm getting better at not doing it - but still have a way to go I'm afraid!

      Delete
  4. Hi Leanne,
    Very relevant points. These are applicable not just in midlife but any age for that matter.
    Not taking things personally is very important. Lot of hurt and consequent differences of opinion stem out of wrong perceptions and imaginary assumptions.
    I do apologize; no hesitations whatsoever. Like you said, apologizing doesn't mean one is in the wrong. It's an acknowledgement of the willingness to understand mutually and move one.
    Wonderful post.
    One suggestion, though. It would be nice if you could give a link to the post on the first Agreement, and later to the previous and succeeding Agreements. That way, if someone has missed posts, they can easily go to that.
    I am sharing this post on my social media.
    Good wishes, Pradeep | bpradeepnair.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pradeep - good idea about the link - I'll add that in to the posts like you suggest. And like you, I'm getting better at the art of the apology and moving on - still have moments where I resent it, but it's for my greater good and worth sucking it up so that I'm not left dwelling on things.

      Delete
  5. I often take things personally and stew about it forever. However I have learnt over the years that it isn't always about me. I would add to this that if you are continually being picked on or derided, then it is time to call it quits with that friend or acquaintance. I was bullied and ridiculed by a couple of so called friends for years and I eventually had to cut ties with these people. It has made me a much happier person. #TeamLovinLife

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree with that little addition Kathy - getting rid of toxic people from your social circle is such a lightening of your load isn't it? If I can't trust someone to be loyal, show intergrity, and have my back, then I don't want their "friendship" - I don't need friends that badly!

      Delete
  6. There's a famous quote that goes: "What other people think of you is none of your business" and I mostly subscribe to that, except, as you said, when it's someone close. Love the apology quote and yes, I have done that for the sake of a friendship. Life is short and you have to decide what's more important. Great insight, Leanne!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right about life being sort Debbie and I feel like that is driving my decision making process more these days. I don't want to waste my time on hurt feelings and pain (although that has happened and I'm still sad for it) I want to try to keep the air clear and remember that other people are responible for their reactions - I'm not their mother or their boss - so it's not on me!

      Delete
  7. This is an insightful post and I hope you believe and agree with me! Recently I met IRL someone I only knew online and the woman was taken back by my shortness! She just assumed I was tall. It was funny to me and I think I disappointed her because I am short!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I would have thought you were tall too Haralee - you must have a tall persona :) It wouldn't affect my feelings for you though - I think we'd have a blast if we met IRL x

      Delete
  8. I really struggle with this!
    Years ago, I told my Dad in all my teen-aged angst, "Everyone's thinking _____ about me!" And he said in his fatherly wisdom, "What makes you so important?" I know it sounds a bit harsh at first light, but it made me think. Of course everyone wasn't thinking about me! That was my first experience with not letting other's thought (and/or actions) affect me. I'm still a work in progress!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I worry about other people thinking bad stuff about me all the time Diane - I try to live my life where I won't be treading on toes, but there's always the worry in the back of my mind. Your dad is right though, I'm not that important either, so I guess most people aren't discussing me when I'm not around!

      Delete
  9. It has taken me years to realize that people usually don't do things on purpose to hurt you. They usually aren't even thinking of you, which is itself hurtful, but not personal. I've been able to let a lot of offenses go because of that realization, but I still find myself falling into my old ways of thinking from time to time, especially with people who have caused a lot of hurt. Love your posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Leah - you are so right about assuming the best of other people's intentions. I don't think there are many people left in my social circle who would want to hurt me in any way, shape or form, so I really need to remember that they aren't deliberately hurting me or my feelings and to toughen up a bit at times! And thank you for your lovely compliment xx

      Delete
  10. Hi Leanne, I find it difficult not to take things personally - there I've said it! However, I do like your point about apologizing. We have both written about not feeling guilty or being able to say 'no' without feeling like we need to apologize. However, your quote nails it. Sometimes we do because we value the relationship and that is more important. I have toughened my skin lately but sometimes there is still a little chink in the armour. Thanks for the pep talk and reminder xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue, I'm exactly the same as you - I give myself this pep talk regularly but (as you know) I still manage to get my feelings hurt - by those who are close to me, or by those who I expect so much better from. I think expectations come into play far more than they should for my emotional health - I'll have to keep working on that one!

      Delete
  11. Oh wow! If only we could all know this deep in our bones! How different relationships and friendships would be. Thanks for this, Leanne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the crux of it isn't it Brenda - knowing it on more than the surface level - it's the only way to make lasting change and I still need it to soak in a bit deeper I'm afraid.

      Delete
  12. This is huge for me at the moment Leanne as I feel very uneasy about my job. I guess there's one or two people I work with (kinda my bosses) who feel very critical and though they don't say anything I feel judged. So even if everyone else says lovely things I focus on the fact neither of these people have. In fact this past week I got myself worked up about something so much I'd completely projected my perception of their feelings onto them and when we finally had a conversation NONE of the stuff I'd catastrophised about was an issue. It was ALL in my head!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Deb I totally get it! I have so often put whole conversations together in my head based on assumptions of what I think people are thinking about me - only to find out that I was completely wrong - I've wasted way too much time trying to figure my way around things I've personalized that ended up not being the case at all. Why do we do that to ourselves???

      Delete
  13. From decades of pursuing a career as an actress I've learned not to take things personally. You may have the wrong hair color, or don't match with another actor. It often has little to do with your talent. That translates into regular life. You may think it's all about you and you are the victim, but usually it's not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read something similar from another actor about how they take rejection Rebecca - I hadn't thought how it would work IRL too - you're right though, if you can learn how to take negatives with a grain of salt then it would definitely have a flow-on effect into other areas of life. I might start thinking like an actress :)

      Delete
  14. I forget sometimes that everyone doesn't have to agree with me and I shouldn't feel judge because they don't. This is very good information that I need to keep in mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right about people being entitled to their own opinions Victoria - so often we assume that everyone thinks the same or has the same world view - disagreement doesn't always mean they are judging us or criticising us - something I need to remember too!

      Delete
  15. Practicing forgiveness is something I have been doing for a long time. Tough thing to do but so liberating once it is done. I've been looking out for a book to read and your post made me buy the book so off to read it now. Thanks so much for sharing your insights.


    stopping via the LovinLife linkup

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy it Suzy - it certainly gave me a different perspective - and a healthier approach to the whole issue of personalizing other people's reactions.

      Delete
  16. Hi Leanne,
    Strangely, I'm good at apologizing unless the person is someone I'm really close to and then I choke. As for being hurt by other people's comments/feelings/opinions, yup that still happens but by consciously working on it, I'm finding that it is starting to happen less and less. Posts like this one are good reminders and reinforcements. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's interesting that you mentioned it being harder to apologize to loved ones Karen - I found this was exactly what happened when I upset someone - I should have just sucked it up and apologized immediately, rather than digging in my heels and waiting for them to admit they were wrong. Pride came before a fall and a lesson was learnt!

      Delete
  17. Hi Leanne. This is very insightful. It's too bad that so many of us wast so much of our lives taking things personally. Doing so can lead to a lot of unnecessary hurt and drama. If I begin to worry about someone else's issues, I just remind myself that it has nothing to do with me. It helps to put things into perspective. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I'd figured that out a long time ago Heather - I take things to heart waaay too often and then realize too late that I let myself get needlessly hurt over something that wasn't intended (or even if it was, I didn't have to take it on board). I think I'm getting better but I still have a way to go with this one.

      Delete
  18. Today's biggest problem is we take things personally and overthink about it. Sometimes hours and hours are wasted thinking for it. From my personal experience I can share this with you I was same but few years back I started practicing Mindfulness which helped me to keep mind troubles away.

    ReplyDelete
  19. When working with others on the 4 Agreements I find that the 2nd and 3rd agreements are definitely the toughest.
    I just love the 4 Agreements philosophy. SO helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  20. My life lesson in this happened almost two years ago, after we moved to China. There are two words for "two" in Mandarin. I had learned my numbers - with the counting "two" - not knowing the difference. After a couple weeks in Beijing, I was picking up on a few Mandarin structures, like adding "ge" to indicate a quantity. In a market I asked for "two onion breads" using the number 2 plus "ge" and the guys behind the counter laughed and laughed as they packaged it up.

    I was mortified to be so loudly laughed at in public and asked a Chinese friend, who explained that my "two" was only used in counting, never in number a quantity. My instinct was to be so upset at my own humiliation that I didn't want to try my Mandarin in public ever again! (so petulant) But I lived there, so that wasn't an option. I had to NOT take the laughter personally. I amused them, so be it!

    Of course, I don't always think so clearly, but it's always a good reminder to me!

    ReplyDelete

I love it when you leave a comment and I reply to them all.
If you'd like to have a conversation, feel free to email me any time - leanne.lecras@gmail.com