Four Agreements - 2. Don't Take Anything Personally
2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dreams. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others; you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
People are mirrors. Relationships are mirrors. Friendships are mirrors. Family are mirrors. Their main mechanism is to hold the mirror up to us, to let us know where we still aren’t free, where there is still work to do in our personal evolution. To quote the insatiable Ram Dass, “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”
What I take this to mean is that your thoughts, behaviours and actions are yours alone. The baggage you bring into a relationship is yours alone. For others, it’s theirs. If someone is making me feel upset, or sad or hurt & insecure, it's not actually them that's making me feel anything. It's all on me - I have been triggered by something in my past. Too painful for me to even see or realize, buried deep down in the shadows. If someone is holding up the mirror to me and I don't like what I see, historically I would play victim, blame, freeze, run. It was just all too much for me to deal with and I didn't have the capacity or proper communication tools to even give it a shot. Whatever I am experiencing in that moment (hurt, betrayal, sadness, jealousy, anger, etc), it's my shit, and those feelings will keep bubbling up to the surface until I am able to acknowledge, stop resisting, and begin to heal that part of me. And I will continue to be triggered or hurt until that happens. Now, this doesn’t give people free reign to go around hurting others purposefully, that’s not what this is about. Much of the time, I believe people really aren’t out to hurt each other. And if they are, that’s an obvious sign of the hurt they are going through themselves, most likely unconsciously. In my experience, many people are willing to stay hurt if it means they don't have to change, they don't have to acknowledge and work through that hurt. I used to be one of those people. Resistant to the change. Sadness, depression, alcohol dependency all kept me down, and I allowed it too because it was 'safe' & 'familiar'. Even though it was the fucking worst, I stayed in that bubble for so long because to not would be to change, and that was terrifying to me. The unknown. Later on in life, alcohol actually allowed for me to build a whole new persona of ‘good time’ Kat. So long as I was hiding behind that mask, I didn’t have to let anyone know the real me, and I could play victim all day long.
In my First Agreement blog post, I talked about my issues with female friendships. Having been hurt as a child within the context of my most early female friendships, I have carried that into other friendships with women unconsciously for decades. Hurting from not being chosen, or 'good enough' to all be friends. Did we mean to hurt each other when we were little? No, I don’t believe so. We were kids just trying to figure it all out, trying desperately to be loved, to belong. Never ever did I come to realize that this gossiping and backstabbing behind each other’s back shook me as much as it did, we were just kids. But it did, and to protect myself, I built up a pretty impressive wall, not really allowing women to get close enough to get to know me at all. Nothing that they could say or do would help heal that part of me, it was my shit and only I could be the one to take action.
FFW to just a few months ago. All of the above insecurities I had never understood or dealt with came flooding back in. I had two girl friends (one with whom I am very close), who recently became acquainted through me. They ended up meeting for a walk. Without me. I saw a picture they posted on instagram and my first instinct was to completely overreact, get upset & play victim. I saw red. I was triggered - “I can’t believe they went behind my back to meet up!” Alarm bells were going off - My inner child was hurting so badly from being excluded - "It's happening again." But you see, the events that happened decades ago had nothing to do with these women. Did they set out to hurt me? Nope. Is the two of them meeting without me a personal dig? Nope. Is my reaction to get upset and call them out personal to them? It would seem that way, but nope. This insecurity is something I’ve carried around with me for decades, only to be triggered by their meeting. I had to get really honest with myself about where this reaction and insecurity was coming from. Once I figured that out, I communicated this with my close friend and told her my truth. She, being who she is and able to hear & see me after all the growth she is doing, was able to stay in and talk through what historically would be for me, abandonment of a friendship for my feelings being hurt through nothing personal at all. She understood that too - other level shit. It’s not your job to make others see this. They have to see it for themselves. I am quite fortunate in that many people I am now letting into my life are those who are doing immense personal work themselves, and can hold space for me when I get triggered, and be there as I work through it. And I can be there & respectfully do the same for them. It has taken me a long while to get to this place, and the work continues everyday.
I can get pissed off. I can end a relationship, walk away from a friendship, cut off ties from a family member, cause so much drama, but at the end of the day, people come into each others lives with excess baggage we know nothing about. If I take every little thing personally, I'm a) Incredibly narcissistic. b) In for a world of suffering & hurt. The best option is, once triggered, feeling hurt, insecure, whatever, by actions or words of others, to communicate how I'm feeling with them and see how the situation can most likely be resolved without drastic measures and more suffering. If not, perhaps that’s not a relationship worth continuing to place my time & energy into.
This ties into the Third Agreement about making up assumptions when we aren’t sure of the truth. Much time and precious energy has been left at the doorstep of stories I make up in my mind. Stay tuned for the next Agreement and Blog Post.