It happens this way …
But I’m a person, I want to scream! How else can I take what others throw at me with their words, actions, or energy but personally?
Ruiz explains that once we realize that people do what people do, it’s not too difficult. He writes:
All people live in their own dreams, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world. Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you.
Years ago I was entangled in a series of misunderstandings with some colleagues that led to a lot of hurt. I was so confused about what they were accusing me of that I couldn’t see they had their own pain and confusion. It’s taken years to understand that and let go of resentments. My focus had been on me, me, me and not them. Ruiz calls this me-focus “personal importance” and emphasizes again, “Nothing people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” Phew! Let’s chew on that for a while!
There’s another stunning insight in this second agreement. Ruiz says:
… by taking things personally you set yourself up to suffer for nothing. Humans are addicted to suffering at different levels and to different degrees, and we support each other in maintaining these addictions. Humans agree to help each other suffer.
We are addicted to suffering and support each other’s addiction? How can that be?
Have you ever met someone who seems almost relieved when they have another illness to deal with, another personal set-back, another seemingly insurmountable challenge? They are so wrapped up in their suffering that they can’t seem to live without it. That’s what addiction is. Nothing we do can free them from their suffering unless they are willing to take responsibility for it. And our job is to take responsibility for our own. However, if we are people-pleasers who have a misplaced notion of caring, we may participate in their addiction as a way to support our own. What a crazy suffering cycle this is!
Ruiz suggests we write “Don’t take anything personally” on paper and put it on our refrigerators. I’m off to do that right now. Enough of personal importance and needless suffering!