You may think it is personal – and it is probably not

Those darn feelings seem to get in the way at the worst times. I will bet you can think of several situations where you thought someone was neglecting or ignoring you. Perhaps they did something that upset you. The question to ask yourself, were they really doing it to hurt you or was it because they were dealing with their own issues?

The Four Agreements

We can be blindsided by making assumptions. Sometimes we takes things too personally. Both of these tenants are discussed in the book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book. This book was recommended to me several years ago and I have often suggested that people read it.

Here is a synopsis of the four agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with your word. If we are careful with what we say, we can improve our personal and work relationships. Our words can be very damaging to others and can leave an imprint for many years. When we become conduits to gossip and untruths, invariably we hurt other people. Bob Whipple recently wrote an article on how to reduce gossip.
  2. Don’t take anything personally. The premise is that people react to their own ‘stuff’ and not necessarily to something; you did or did not do. Their behavior is a direct reflection of their value system and beliefs and because guess what – they chose to do it. You did not force them to make their decision. If you tend to believe you are the cause or to blame in situations, this is an agreement worth understanding. If find yourself feeling unsure, consider asking the question, ‘Is this something you are going through or does it have to do with me?”
  3. Don’t make assumptions. We can cause a lot of stress by not asking people what they think or want to do about something that involves them personally. I can recall when I assumed that a friend was not available to go to an event. When I mentioned it to her afterward, she told me it was something she wanted to attend and in the future, “please do not make decisions for me”. This is a great lesson that I use frequently.
  4. Always do your best. This is the pep talk principle. This is not about being perfect. It recognizes that sometimes situations arise where we are able to follow the four agreements better than other times. In challenging situations, it is not the time to criticize ourselves. It is time to recognize that we are doing the best we can in the circumstances.

The next time you find yourself feeling like everything is your fault, consider if you are taking on more than you really need to with someone. It might even be time to evaluate if the relationship is beneficial.