Do you let the words and actions of others get to you? Can others change the way that you think and feel? Perhaps, like me, you can benefit from the lessons of Don Miguel Ruiz on how to not take things personally.
The Story Continues
In our last article, “Impeccable – How your words cast spells on your relationships”, we discussed the first of Don Miguel Ruiz’s agreements from his book, The Four Agreements. I began the story of how gossip recently affected me and my business. Alas, the story did not end there.
I was very hurt by the gossip and betrayal of trust of these two close friends and colleagues. While the first had the best intentions at heart, those intentions did not change the fact that trust was being violated. The second simply couldn’t keep the juicy news to herself, and had to pass it to the one person that would delight most in seeing me hurt.
Hurt it did, and that is normal. Perhaps it would not have hurt as much if I had not taken it personally. The stone of negativity was thrown, and I chose to catch it.
The Second Agreement
We have seen how important it is to be impeccable with our word. What happens when others aren’t impeccable with theirs? While being impeccable can give us immunity from the need to pass along the virus of gossip, it does not fully protect us from being the target of these spells.
That is where the second agreement comes in:
Don’t Take Anything Personally
While the actions of my friends impacted me and had consequences, they would have had a lot less impact if I had more practice in not taking things so personally. I know on a logical level that their actions are not really about me. They were both acting from their own fears and inadequacies. Perhaps the first created a story in her mind of how our conversation could hurt me. Perhaps the second felt a need to cut me down and build herself up in the eyes of a third party. It doesn’t matter in the end. Their intentions and emotions are their own.
The Choice of Turmoil
All of this happened the day before I left for a trip to the east coast. We were going on tour to raise awareness for the Kickstarter on the Ask A Bookkeeper show. Concerns over this situation with these two friends plagued me. We were close colleagues, with several aspects of our businesses intertwined. I was already stressed and my time was filled with the Kickstarter project. Now my mind was also preoccupied with thoughts of betrayal and worries of what would happen next.
I spun out. They may have tossed a stone, but I was the one choosing to carry it around.
My time on the east coast was not nearly as effective as it could have been. I simply did not have the joy and sparkle I needed to pull off the intention we had set for the trip. All of it felt stressful and overwhelming, instead of being the fun adventure we had planned. I allowed the actions of others to affect the way I saw myself, and by doing so I threw my power away.
My feelings of dis-empowerment continued after my return home. In an effort to find connection, support, and also daring greatly, I brought the issue to a new mastermind group that I recently become part of. I thought that sharing my fears and doubts with this group would bring us closer together in our mutual humanity and imperfection.
I was wrong. Once again, I had set myself up to have a stone cast my way.
One member of the group told me that I was being oversensitive, to put on my “big girl panties,” and to get over it. There went my hopes for connection. These cruel words cut deeply in my already vulnerable state, and my fears and doubts flourished. After that, the group was quiet. I think that no one knew quite how to salvage what had just become a very unsafe emotional environment, totally defeating the purpose of a mastermind group.
Getting Off the Carousel
I knew in my heart that the words of my mastermind colleague were not for me. I could feel that they were an expression of her own doubts and fears, as something in my situation probably triggered her to defensiveness. Nonetheless, I needed a bit of help in the form of compassion, connection, and validation from someone who cares.
That came in the form of some book recommendations, and one book kept coming up again and again: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. My husband and I have owned the book for years, and he has read it a couple of times. I was familiar with the concepts, but it never managed to float to the top of my reading list. Until now.
Not Taking It Personally
Ruiz says, “When you take things personally, you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts.” Whether the words or thoughts of another are positive or negative, it does us no good whatsoever to allow those spells to alter our view of ourselves. We each see the world from our own perspective, and looking at ourselves through someone else’s lens will only distort and cloud our vision. Catching the stones that others throw will only weigh us down, regardless of what is written on them.
When I step back and choose not to take the words and actions of others personally, I feel compassion for them. I more clearly understand their perspective, and I know that this situation is not about someone being right and someone else being wrong. It is about perspectives that are not in alignment and how people choose to deal with them. It is our words and choices that create our reality: the spells we cast. I also know that moving forward I will not welcome certain spells to come my way from those people again.
Taking Business Personally
I don’t believe that business is “just business.” Our businesses are our lives and our livelihood. They are a manifestation of our deepest passions and the work that we are here to do in this life. If there is something that we would not consider right or ethical in our personal lives, than it also has no place in business, and vice versa.
I’m not interested in having relationships with people who find excuses to do things they know are wrong because it’s “just business.” I am also not interested in relationships that are cold and emotionless, treating humans like autonomous robots instead of thinking, feeling people. I enjoy connection with other humans, in both my personal and professional life. After all, it is really just one life. My life.
Jim Rohn says, “You are an average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with.” With that in mind I need to choose my company with care.
Stephen Fogelman says, “We can measure our growth by the people we say goodbye to.”
Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.”
I made the choice to walk away. This experience has taught me, once again, that I need to slow down and let people earn my trust through their actions. I have now severed my personal and professional relationships with my gossiping friends, and I have left the mastermind group where I wasn’t feeling a connection. I do not wish to remain in the crossfire of negative spells or people throwing stones. It is time to go my own way to cast my own spells with clear positive intention and a focus on being impeccable with my word.
I set an intention last week to “shed my skin.” To me this meant releasing the negative things that were clinging to me, emerging clean, fresh, and unencumbered. Just like the snake, shedding our skin can leave us feeling raw and sensitive for a time. Nonetheless, it is necessary for health and healing.
Now that I have emerged and my new skin has had some days to set, I feel like a beautiful, shiny new set of scales has grown stronger than the last. In time I will be ready to shed again, releasing more limiting beliefs and old agreements that no longer serve me. I delight in the wonder of the new lessons always to come. I wish the best to you on your journey, and I encourage you not to take these words I have written personally. You get to choose your own stones, and I hope you find the gems.