Ellsworth Toohey: Mr Roark, we're alone here. Why don't you tell me what you think of me in any words you wish.
Howard Roark: But I don't think of you.
The first agreement was to be impeccable with your word. The second agreement is don't take anything personally. However others act around me, it is not my doing but theirs. They are acting according to their agreements made in their own minds.
Whatever others say about me, it does not matter. If people call me stupid, slow, selfish, ugly, weird, etc. and I take it personally, then they hook me into their problems. Their emotional garbage becomes mine and I eat it up.
The same holds for compliments. If someone tells me that I am smart or that they 'like' something that I write on a web page, then I should not take it personally. There are only two valid assessors of my performance: me and my Maker.
If I feel offended, shame, outrage, guilt, sorrowful, jealous, envy, resentful, etc. based on the actions of others, then I am choosing to let others influence my actions. They are not inflicting pain on me. I am inflicting pain on myself. In turn, I am likely to make agreements with myself that trap me in a hellish, negative state of mind.
The trapping mechanism is personal importance--the ultimate expression of selfishness that assumes everything is about me. Part of this is driven from past programming that taught me that we are responsible for the actions of others. Consequently, I assume that others know my world and I try to impose my world on others.
I am shaking my head in disbelief that I could ever enslave myself to such wasteful behavior. But I do.
By not taking things personally, I do not need to attend to what others say. I only need to trust myself to make responsible choices and to seek the truth to the best of my ability.
I find this agreement--not taking anything personally--to be the most challenging of the Four Agreements. I often waste energy reacting to what others think. I need to more effectively 'mind my own business' rather than someone else's.
Strengthening this agreement with myself--to not take anything personally--could be the most liberating thing that I could do. My initial plan is to read and reflect on this chapter daily, and make some obvious changes that will help me mind my own business.