Don’t overlook the second of Don Miguel Ruiz’s “Five Agreements;” it addresses one of the biggest obstacles to happiness.
“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.”
This is much easier said than done. I do not interpret “immune” as numb, indifferent, or hostile. I believe he means that you can entertain the opinions and observe the actions of others without adding emotional elements, and assessments. Everyone wants genuine “respect,” “approval,” and “love,” and no one wants “disrespect,” “rejection,” and “hate.”
How can you tell what people are actually “giving” you compared to what you feel you are “getting?” Are you as vulnerable to flattery and positive exaggerations, as you are to negative comments? How can you tell what is really going on?
Many people look for “signs” in what people say and do; then they look for “signs” in how people say or do things. Then they look for “signs” in what people do not say or do.
- The boss loved my proposal!
- Did Jerry just say I was stupid?
- Wow, look at these roses!
- Why did Jennifer stop calling me?
- The professor told me I have promise.
- Did you see how Deborah just ignored me?
- I saw that snide look on Richard’s face.
You get the picture. When the words and deeds of others become a big part of your feelings about yourself, life can seem like a carnival ride out of control. Some people try to be social chameleons that appease everyone, and offend no one. That does not leave room in your life for you and what you want, does it?
What if you could be happy living with the truth of respect, approval, love, disrespect, rejection, and hate?
Separating the facts from the story in your head is important for all parts of life. How to do that?
Byron Katie’s “The Work,” gives you a system for testing what you think is true. This is worthwhile information. She has incorporated extensive experience and wisdom in this method. Take a look at her website.
Her method has you ask 4 questions; then you get to play with your thoughts.
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
“Turn the thought around. Then find at least three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true for you in this situation.”
“Turn the thought around” means “put the shoe on the other foot” and check how the “turnaround” strikes you as true or not. Try rephrasing the same thought or complaint about another person another way; say it with the names reversed (Joe ignored me ~ I ignored Joe) or flip the meaning around, (Joe should pay more attention to me. ~ I don’t need more attention from Joe. ~ I need to pay more attention to what Joe says). Go to Byron Katie’s site for much clearer explanation and examples.
Implementing the “Second Agreement” with “The Work” lets you free yourself from emotional tyranny by looking for more truth in your opinions and interpretations of other people.