Thursday, May 09, 2013

Don't Take Anything Personally

I know, you have heard that so many times. And worse, we have probably all said it to someone else. It’s too easy to offer that advice to another woman when it’s her “personal” and not ours.

But there is something to this. And I’m feeling inspired to give it another try.

A few weeks ago I met with a woman and we were talking about The Course in Miracles—which was my entry point into recovery and changing my life. The woman reached into her bag and held up a book and said, “I’m re-reading this old book too.” And it was a copy of “The Four Agreements” by Toltec healer and physician, Don Miguel Ruiz.

You have seen this book. Maybe you read it when it came out in 1997. It was passed around recovery rooms then. It is wisdom. The fur agreements are:

Be Impeccable with Your Word.

Don’t Take Anything Personally.

Don’t Make Assumptions.

Always Do Your Best.

Great advice right? But what I have come to see is that I even took that great advice and used it against myself. Be impeccable with your word because an internal message of, “Oh, you liar, you can’t do this, why did you say that…” and on and on. And “Always do your best” became, in my head, “Do more, do better, an impossible rant of perfectionism.

Are you surprised to hear that’s not what Ruiz was talking about?

I was making even those good ideas into personal failings. Old habit.

What has really synched this for me—today—is simultaneously reading a newer book called, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”.  by Bronnie Ware. Death is a great wisdom teacher too. I date myself, but Carlos Castaneda tried to teach us that ages ago. He said, “Keep Death on your left shoulder all day.” If you do that you pretty much fall into the four agreements that Ruiz talks about.

Here are the top five regrets:

One: I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself.
Two: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
Three: I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
Four: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Five: I wish I had let myself be happier.

All of those regrets are about courage and self-agency. Note: it doesn’t say, “I wish I was happier” rather, “I wish I had let myself…”

So I’m going to try something. Want to join me? I’m putting a note in my planner and one on my mirror:    Don’t Take Anything Personally.

I’ll keep you posted on what comes (up) next.

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