In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to follow up on last week’s letter by exploring a key principle to success and happiness –it’s not about you.
First a quick update:
“Body Language Analysis of Celebrities”
I recently taped a TV show for E! TV analyzing what the body language reveals about certain celebrity couples. Watch the E! TV “10 Most Inappropriate Makeout Moments of Celebrities” where I reveal the hidden subconscious message and communication of what is really going on in celeb relationships via photos of the celebrity couples. E! TV
Who are You – Talker, Doer, Thinker, Watcher? Are you an introvert or extrovert, optimistic or pessimistic? Are you born to be a leader or do you naturally follow and submit? Do you primarily seek praise, power, perfection or peace? Are you talkative, analytical, active or easy-going? Which personality type is your perfect match in a relationship? Do you clash with other people at work or home and wish you could understand how to motivate them, get along or handle them better than before? My detailed and comprehensive personality profile based on the Four Temperaments is now available here.
Now, let’s talk about a challenge that faces most of us: taking things personally.
In the 1999 movie, “Analyze This” Robert De Niro plays Paul Vitti, an insecure mob boss who seeks out help from Psychiatrist Dr. Ben Sobel played by Billy Crystal. In one scene, Vitti believes that Ben has ratted him out to the FBI and so he and his goons take Ben to a junkyard where they are about to kill him. One of Vitti’s goons, the affable “Jelly”, looks at Ben whom he actually likes, and as he prepares to knock him off, he says “Sorry, Doc. It’s not personal, you know.” Ben replies with “Don’t kid yourself, Jelly. It doesn’t get more personal than this.”
When someone is about to knock you off, it surely is personal. The problem that we face is that we believe that in almost every situation, every response by everyone to us is purely personal. In other words, we believe that we are responsible for the way that they are reacting to us or to what has happened. Very rarely do we stop to ask, “Why is this person responding this way, in this moment?”
Almost always, we feel that the other person’s response (verbal, physical, mental or emotional) is our fault and we take it personally – we begin to blame, judge, condemn, berate or beat up ourselves. Sometimes, we become defensive and sometimes our self-doubt turns into offensiveness as this person proceeds to push our buttons (our insecurities and unresolved issues.)
In the book, “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)” author Don Miguel Ruiz, outlines four powerful strategies to live-by that can lead to happiness and inner peace- one of which is not taking things personally.
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. 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.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.
4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
Although, I personally feel that at times the book takes some of these teachings to an extreme, overall the teachings and principles are truly powerful and potentially transformational. I always propose and encourage balance. So, for example, one of the teachings promotes not to even take compliments personally. However, as a Human Behavior & Relationship Expert and Clinical Hypnotherapist, I recognize that as humans we have basic needs – love, attention, approval, acceptance, recognition, support, encouragement, praise, security, emotional connection, friendship, fun, intimacy, meaning, significance, etc. It is not truly possible to become a rock, void of emotions and thus never take anything personally. We do want our partner to find us attractive, we do want and need, at times of self-doubt, someone to help prop us up, support or express belief in us, as a way to regain our power and strength. Again, the key here is balance. If we become attached to everything that people say about us – good or bad, then we lose our power because we become their puppet and they determine how we will act, behave and feel each day and possibly, each moment.
Our strength lies in the ability to be able to discern when people are acting out of their own stuff (issues, insecurities, pain, hurt, past experiences, etc) and when yes, we acted out of our own stuff and thus, maybe we did do something that may have offended or hurt someone. Most times, you will realize that it’s not about you.
I know that I, someone who is often on TV, radio, stage and print, will easily say things that are controversial and that sometimes offend certain people’s beliefs. Accordingly, I do my best to stand back and ask myself, “was it about me or was it about them?” Often the answer is a combination of both. The delicate balance is being true to yourself while still being aware of how you or your style may impact others and keeping in mind that we can never please everyone because there are about 6 billion different opinions on this planet.
Finally, the Dalai Lama throws this subject into new light when he recommends that when you see someone acting with a negative emotion, (shouting, screaming, criticizing, etc,) then remind yourself that this person is simply demonstrating unskilled behavior. With that approach, we are less likely to make it about us.
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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 & Clinical Hypnotherapist
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.