Don't Take Anything Personally

Our Four Agreements book club continues with the second agreement: Don't Take Anything Personally.

As you will see in this week's video, the aha! moment for me is to not take anything personally: not the good stuff and not the bad stuff. This week's video is full of personal anecdotes about (what I find is) the hardest of all of the agreements. What do you do when someone calls you a terrible name? Or when a colleague deals you a low blow? How can we shield ourselves from the negativity of others? If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the chapter:

"Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves." p. 48

This realization is HUGE. We internalize everything and make it about us, but it is always about them. Always. This reminder really helps us to not take anything personally.

"That person tried to send you poison and if you take it personally, then you take that poison and it becomes yours." p.49

A wonderful visual for the negative encounters we might have with people. If someone says something mean-spirited to you, you can choose to take that poison by internalizing it, or you can choose to not take it and leave the poison with the person who misspoke.

"When you take things personally, then you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts." p. 50

Think about all of the conflicts in your life. Most of them probably have begun because you took something personally. When we practice this second agreement, the conflicts we are so used to will dissolve.

"When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others." p. 60

Freedom! :)

For much more please watch this week's video. As always, I would love to hear from you. What is your experience with taking things personally?

See you next week when we discuss the second agreement: Don't Make Assumptions.

Visit my Author Website

Like my Facebook Page

Follow me on Twitter

Sign up for my Seasonal Author Newsletter


Daniella C said...

I watched your video earlier this weekend, and love the idea of not taking anything personally so as not to upset yourself or let other people upset you... the thing is, how do you feel about repeat offenders? I mean people who are continually rude to those around them, but no one ever says anything to them? You could just not take it personally, but is it fair to let someone "get away" with such rude behaviour all the time? I'd love to know your thoughts!

P.S. Those internet trolls are DEFINITELY worth ignoring! I actually picked up your book after seeing it on GoodReads! I ignored everyone else's comments, lol.

juliagray19 said...

Boy, do I have a couple of anecdotes to share! In my last year of graduate school, I was taking the dissertation course. It was commonplace for the professor to go around the room and, as students reported on their progress, he destroyed any opportunity for original thought until students ultimately wrote the kind of paper (ideas, conclusions, data) he would have written himself. Three days before the defense, he and another professor told me I would not graduate on time and would have to wait until the next semester. They did not give me a choice. Then, the other professor asked me a question that was the most rude, wildly inappropriate thing I have ever heard anyone say to anyone before or since. He asked me, "Do you feel like a failure?" I did not take the bait and said, "No!" This man was the Department Chair and should have known better!! It was completely to do with him! When I repeated this conversation to a staff member, she said to me, "In three years, you will not know these people." She was right. It's been 2 years since I graduated. I am a teacher now, and when I am in doubt about how to address a situation, I think of what my grad school professors would do and then do the opposite! Yet, he was not the worst professor of all. I had several choir members in a history class, one of whom performed the song "Nothing," from A Chorus Line. I told her that I had had a professor like the character Mr. Carp in that song, who singles a student out for ridicule until she finally realizes she can meet her career goals by finding a better class and ultimately succeeds. Hearing my own student sing that song was so powerful that it was a cathartic experience. That professor ultimately left the university and became a THERAPIST! Upon learning this, I laughed at the irony and also pitied her clients. She can do some real damage.

Pug1 said...

Jennifer, you're such a tender-heart....but please don't take this personally. Luv ya! Michele xx

Ivannia G said...

Not taking things personally, I can see, is also a great way to manage stress. It's so much easier going through life being confident in oneself, rather than depending on anothers opinion. I say current because people say what they say according to what they're feeling. We watched a video in my college health class that may make your day. It was a recording of a speaker; her name is Sandy Queen. The greatest thing she said, words I still try to bear in mind: 1) don’t stress over the little things. 2) If it's not life or death, everything is a little thing. 3) If you can't flee, flow.

I greatly enjoy your blog and absolutely fell in love with your book. Thank you for all your hard work.


I'm not sure if she mentions the exact stories she said when we watched it in class, but I'm sure she'll still be enjoyable.

missdevine said...

I think the most significant thing about not taking things personally - criticism or praise - is that you effectively become self motivating and confident. You are doing things for yourself, not for someone else, not for someone's approval. That doesn't mean you're self centered, but it does mean that you are setting your own standards for yourself. It's a position of confidence in life, which is not arrogance.

Polly said...

This is such good advice! I struggled for years as a chronic people-pleaser, too reliant on others' opinions of me. Fortunately I've evolved out of that! As a Christian what I have evolved into is the knowledge that I aim only to please God (who loves me unconditionally, and is not a harsh figure). This is quite similar to the idea that you only answer to yourself--the idea of the 'audience of one'. It is so liberating and refreshing, and has made me a freer and more daring person!

I also totally agree with the concept that we should be impeccable with our word. That is so beautifully-put and so worth remembering *at all times*--whether we are communicating with friends, colleagues or even our children!

Maria (viola33) said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I've been working on not taking things personally for a while already and I feel more confident now but there is one thing that bothers me, and I haven't found the answer yet. Is it possible that not taking things personally prevent us from receiving feedback from others and this way prevents our development. What are your thoughts on this topic?



Jomara Carvalho Ribeiro said...

I think this commitment is a true key to happiness. Oh God why is so hard to follow it? I’ve trying it hard but my self-criticism seems to challenge me all the time! Thank you for your comments!

novelist said...

This is a Big one for me. I can see how revolutionary it will be if I can only apply this principal more consistently. It will take care of a lot of drama; especially when combined with the first principal.

Sue obryan said...

This is without a doubt one of my biggest challenges in life, especially in the context of my family relationships -- especially with my husband, but parents and teenage son are a close second! I imagine that to "shield" yourself from the poison takes much practice and the practice must take place when one's heart is soft, open and sincere. In my experience, if I am trying to detach, but from a place of rigid effort, rather than calm, what eventually comes about is a resentment . . . . that I'm not even aware of!!! I am curious about what practical ideas we can use to apply these lessons.

Darlene Dotson said...

I try to remember two phrases to help me not take things personally. The first is by Mother Theresa in her piece some call Anyway: "You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway".
And the second uses humor since my family has always used humor for everything. It is an old Polish saying "Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys".
As for the poison...well I have always been empathetic even as a little girl. So I had to learn to take a mental step back and check in with myself to see if I am actually feeling something or picking it up from those around me. I picture a loving light surrounding me like a force field blocking feelings that are not my own.

Susan M. said...

Some of this advice is valid; it should be obvious not to take certain comments personally. The internet trolls, toxic people at work or in the family. But the sweeping "anything" leaves out a lot. It doesn't allow for us to grow. We learn by interacting with others; we learn language through copying, and good manners etc from our parents and care givers. Yes, what they teach us comes from them and reflects their values and what they want for us, but those first encounters and later ones we have as adults should be formative. How can we improve things we make if we don't get constructive feedback? If we only live in our own bubble, we become solipsistic and ignore others and our place in the world, which bears some responsibility. And what about people who need some kind of corrective criticism, whether as banal as telling them they have something on their face or in their teeth or something deeper, such as their comments are hurtful or incorrect or actions violent, etc? Maria raises the point about criticism, too. I feel for juliagray19 who complains of her grad school experience; it's not always like that! I'm a professor, and it's true that there are some bruising academics. But there are many constructive people, too. I wouldn't be able to write my research for scholarly articles, books, if I didn't depend on the critical feedback of peer reviewers and others. And some of these people make negative comments. Sometimes they're right and I need to change something! I need to sift through the feedback, as painful as it might initially be. It has also helped me be a better self-critic, able to improve aspects of my writing even before it gets to peer review.

ashleyanna22 said...

Please don't take it personally, but I absolutely adore your blog (and of course Lessons From Madame Chic). I traveled to Paris for the first (and hopefully not last!) time a few months ago and fell in love with everything about the ancient city. One of my traveling companions gave me your book after we returned, and I devoured it in two short settings. I have been following your blog since late March (even digging through older posts when you were on holiday). Thanks for all the fun advice!

Gam said...

Jennifer, this is a great post. I was nodding in agreement until you got to the part about even the " Good stuff"! I said out loud, oh wow that is the stuff I want to believe, lol! You have certainly, made me rethink my belief system and that is a good thing. As always, you are making me contemplate. Thank you thank you!

Amy said...

Darlene, I LOVE that expression!

Amy said...

I'm trying desperately hard to work this Agreement today - I'm part of the government shutdown (I'm a federal librarian) and reading the hateful comments online is disheartening to say the least. I keep telling myself: it's them, not me.