There is a lovely and well known book on my shelf called The Four Agreements that states:
“Don’t take anything personally.”
It’s a powerful statement, and it’s also facile. By that I mean, it’s easy to say, but following it is nearly impossible, unless you happen to be a perfect master, God realized, or on mood altering drugs.
Say someone you care about says something unkind, doesn’t return your call, stands you up, or does anything disrespectful or dishonorable. You’re going to feel it, and it’s probably going to hurt.
You can tell yourself, oh, they’re just going through a rough patch, or they didn’t realize what they were saying, or it’s just a misunderstanding. And all that stuff you do in your head about it is fine. But what you tell yourself, and what you feel, are two different things. If you feel it, and it hurts, you’re taking it personally.
Why is it so hard not to take things personally?
We all carry around old wounds. And life is designed to keep pressing into those wounds until we’re able to clear them out. That’s actually the important part of the so-called “law of attraction.” Forget about “manifesting” a new car, this is the part we need to pay attention to.
Here’s how it works. Old wounds leave bad stuff inside of us. And any of the stuff we have inside that’s not love, that’s not truly US in the best sense; attracts people and situations that will trigger it. Ouch! But life does this to bring it to our attention. It brings it to our attention so we can resolve it, stop carrying it, and let it go. Life just does that.
Life has the annoying habit of pointing up our bad stuff, to remind us it’s there, so we can get rid of it. So how, exactly, do we heal those old wounds, and get rid of the bad stuff, so we can stop taking things personally? That is the big fat question. I shall tell you what works for me, my clients, and some of my good friends.
First, here’s what doesn’t work:
- Ignoring the pain
- Ignoring the problem
- Distracting yourself from the pain or problem
- Eating/drinking/taking drugs about the pain or problem
- Thinking about the pain or problem
- Thinking more about it
- Thinking a whole lot about it
- Meditating on it
- Astral projection
- Tarot cards
- Ski trips
- Another guitar
- A Porsche
I’ve tried most of these things, and while some of them may be enjoyable, they don’t solve the problem.
In my experience, the only things that help clear out old wounds and not take things personally are:
- Being present with the pain when I feel hurt/angry/sad
- Taking deep breaths
- Asking my Higher Support to help me let it go
- Remembering my connection to love
- Allowing love to come into my heart
- Being grateful for the process
If you read that short list above and thought, “yeah, well sure, bla, bla, bla,” you missed something really important, because that shit works. But you have to take it seriously. And doing it is work.
It’s work, but when I do that list, I’m able to let go of the hurt/angry/sad thoughts. I’m able to forgive whomever or whatever caused my pain. And I’m able to understand that it’s just something that happened, and it wasn’t about me. And about that time I realize that I don’t hurt anymore from that experience, and I’m not taking it personally.
It wasn’t easy for me to learn how to do this, and I wasn’t a quick study. In fact, I did decades of inner work, spiritual work, courses, degrees, programs, teachers, books, tapes, etc. before the real healing started. And I’ve had a ton of love and support from some wonderful people in my corner. So, in a way, making that short list is almost as “facile” as saying “don’t take anything personally.” Almost. It’s still not easy. But it’s possible, and definitely worth doing.
If you want to make some real progress with your personal growth and healing, instead of feeding your intellect more distractions, I suggest getting with the feelings, your Higher Support, and the love that’s everywhere. And make it a priority. Then things can really change in your life.