In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to talk about the teaching “Don’t take anything personally’ and reveal why this is a dangerous extreme.
First a quick update:
“5 components to a healthy relationship”
I have written before about the triangle of love – passion, intimacy and commitment. Here are five other critical elements to a healthy relationship.
Follow me on Twitter– You can now choose to follow me and receive a few words of wisdom on Twitter: @Behavior_Expert
Now, let’s talk about the teaching “Don’t take anything personally’ and reveal why this is a dangerous extreme.
“You’re an idiot…you are fat…you made me angry…you made me cry…you are immature…”
How do you respond when someone verbally criticizes or attacks you?
Do you immediately internalize what he/she says?
Do you attack that person back?
Do you analyze what he/she said without reacting emotionally?
If you follow the teachings of Don Miguel Ruiz in his book, “The Four Agreements”, you would simply shrug it off and conclude ‘it’s not about me, it’s about them – it’s their stuff’:
“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.”
Don Miguel Ruiz claims to be a shaman and Nagual and states that the four agreements come from ancient Toltec wisdom. There is little evidence to support that any of these teachings originated with the Toltecs or that they even come from the Toltecs. Nonetheless, that does not impact the validity of the actual teachings which can be viewed individually to determine their merit and significance.
Is there value and benefits to adopting the ‘agreement’ “Don’t Take Anything Personally”?
First, this teaching has been in existence for a long time:
In western culture, we have the phrase – what other people think of you is none of your business;
in the East, it has been taught in Buddhism dating back to at least the 4th B.C. – “Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering” – beware of becoming attached to other people’s opinions.
Second, when we attach our self-worth to other people’s opinions of us, we are saying what you think of me is more important than what I think of myself; when we base our self-esteem and self-image on what other people think of us, then we will be constantly seeking their approval, and, when we don’t get it, we will suffer and become miserable, depressed, anxious, nervous, insecure, and so forth.
Further, how is it possible to please everyone in your life?
So it is beneficial to not become attached to the opinions and actions of others.
However, it is not healthy or beneficial to become “immune to the opinions and actions of others.”
Immune means we are exempt; immune is an extreme approach.
When you choose to become “immune” or exempt from the opinions and actions of others”, and when you decide to not take anything personally, then you are removing all personal responsibility from your life.
In effect, you are saying that ‘no matter what anyone says to me, positive or negative, I am not responsible; I play no part in anyone else’s reality, and I play no part in my own reality.’ Based on that extreme belief, we then should not receive or embrace compliments, praise or criticism of any kind, and we should simply brush off anything anyone says or does as ‘it’s their stuff, it’s their projection.’
When you decide to not take anything personally, you are isolating yourself form the world and from other people.
If we are completely immune to other people’s actions, beliefs and opinions then why do we need to be in any relationship with anyone?
We do seek and need love and connection, and we cannot do this without some connection to other people’s interactions with us.
One man, quoting the Four Agreements, said to me, “I know it is their issues, not mine. They have the problem, not me!” He was referring to his 3 ex-wives! He was refusing to accept responsibility for the ending of his 3 marriages, his pattern of the type of women he married, and the way he responded and treated them.
When someone reacts, criticizes, praises or simply gives you their opinion of you or your actions/behavior, you can respond by answering this question for yourself:
“Is there any truth in their statement?”
Recall, I asked at the beginning when someone verbally attacks you, “Do you analyze what he/she said without reacting emotionally?”
And there is the key: analyze what he/she said, without reacting emotionally. If there is truth to their statement, take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and behavior. Take the appropriate action to correct the situation.
Take responsibility for the way you feel; take responsibility for the things you say and do.
Until such time that we become single cell amoebas and no longer need other human beings, we will need to take into account how we influence, impact and affect each other; we will continue to need the love, connection, significance and security which only come through relationships with other humans!
And if you are religious you might say, ‘my relationship with God/Jesus gives me everything I need’; and yet the Biblical teachings are to love thy neighbor and God loves you – how much more personal can it get than that?
If you want further help and support, consider a private, one-on-one session with me. Click here to book your session.
You can post your comment on this newsletter below:
If this newsletter was forwarded to you and would like to receive all of my newsletters please enter your email address on the home page.
I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.