Sitting Quietly in “What Is”
This week, I spent considerable time reading, preparing class handouts for, and practicing the second of the Four Agreements.
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 dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
As usual, the practicing left the biggest impact. While I learn a great deal by reading and sharing what I’ve learned from that, I find that I learn best by doing. I think most of us do.
What I’ve learned throughout the last five to ten days is that it is extremely difficult to not take things personally, especially when the people you are talking to, or are with, make an effort to make them personal. It is less difficult when those people are acquaintances, and very difficult when they are dear friends and family.
Each day I ended my day by reviewing when I had lived in to the first and second agreements, and when I had tripped. I chose to honor the first agreement by sitting quietly in the “what is” and not pass judgment on myself for any perceived failures, but to acknowledge when I was not impeccable with my word and when I was, when I took things personally, and why. This, then, allowed me to smile at my ability to be successful in my goal for the day – to do my best.
What did I learn?
I learned what I am, and that it is okay to sit with the strength of my convictions. I feel strongly in the need for operating from truth and to expand my viewpoint from that perspective. I learned that I can trust myself – my values and my principles, and I can choose whether to change them based on new information or not.
I learned that I don’t feel the need to be accepted as much as I thought I did, especially when I choose to not take things personally. When someone calls me names, and suggest things about me that are hurtful, I can take a step back so that I might look at it carefully before I agree with what is being said, or the actions that are being taken. It is easier to discern when I am being lied to.
I more easily recognize that what they are saying and doing comes from what they believe about themselves – not me. It is born out of their own process of “domestication”.
As hard as it was on occasion, making the choice to not take things personally was an absolute gift. It allowed me to go on with my day, and to sit quietly with “what is”. It took away the worry and the suffering I used to batter myself with for days.
What do I still need to work on?
The interesting part of this practice is to not take positive comments personally. “What?”, you say! Have you noticed that our egos are desperate for positive feedback from others? It’s important for me to remember that the positive feedback can quickly turn negative, and is ONLY positive because it is something I feel needs to be affirmed externally and I’m rejoicing in the fact that someone thinks the same way I do. It means I am not relying on and trusting what I know I am – I am still looking for others to affirm me.
This will take much longer for me to work through.
“Even the opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true, therefore you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.” – don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
The second aspect of taking nothing personally is in making decisions – knowing what it is I really want. Monkey mind , born from ego, or the mitote described by Miguel Ruiz is like an open market filled with a thousand voices, haggling over all the opportunities I have in front of me. I think we can assign one agreement from our Book of Laws to each voice, and when we take time to really pay attention to each voice, we recognize that quite often they are unable to coexist without conflict.
What benefits do I see coming from practice of the second agreement?
Amazingly, I feel freer than I have felt in a long time. I’m not feeling guilty about choices I’ve made, nor am I holding myself hostage to self-judgment for any extended length of time.
I feel more loving toward the people around me, and I am making choices from my heart more than my head, and finding that I am not vacillating back and forth on them as much as I have in the past.
More importantly, I am more able to ask for what I need, rather than get upset because I was judging myself to be weak because I needed something. This is huge for me – ask anyone who knows me. I think my favorite saying since I was two has been “Me do!”
If you have been following along with these blogs on the Four Agreements, I would love to hear about your experiences while practicing “Don’t Take Anything Personally”.
What are you taking personally that you would most like to stop paying attention to? What new agreement would you like to make?