Saturday, March 30, 2013

Don't Take Anything Personally

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 Fountainhead

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.


dgeorge12358 said...

I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
~John Galt's philosophy - Carved into the lintel of the Galt's Gulch power station, p 731 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, 1957

dgeorge12358 said...

Personhood is inconceivable without freedom. Person implies not simply the freedom to have different qualities but mainly the freedom simply to be yourself. This means that a person is not subject to norms and stereotypes and cannot be classified in any way; its uniqueness is absolute. This means that only a person is free in the true sense.
~John Zizioulas

dgeorge12358 said...

The Laws of Freedom
1. Internal freedom
2. External freedom

Internal freedom is when we abide in the present moment in a state of continual joy, peace of mind and gratitude that are not contingent upon the circumstances of life, and we have shed the chains of negative thoughts and emotions such as fear, worry, lust, anger, guilt, jealousy, envy, pride, greed, gluttony, etc. (Emotions are always a choice. Why not choose the emotion from your emotional toolbox that best serves others as well as yourself, win-win?) The pinnacle of internal freedom exists when it feels better to give, to help someone else, to bring joy to someone else, than it does to get, to receive. And throw in a good dose of compassion, forgiveness and mercy. External freedom is when we have the ability, resources, energy, time, health and money to do what we love, what we want, where we want, when we want, with whom we want, how we want, consistent with not violating any other person’s person or property, consistent with keeping our covenants and contracts. External freedom is evidenced by living among people who are self-governing with a balance between individuality and community, void of external coercion by civil government.
~compiled by R.E. McMaster