The second agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz' book, The Four Agreements, which I introduced in a post a few weeks ago, is to never take things personally. I found the ideas in this book to be simple, and I can very much see the value in them. None of them are easy to maintain, though.
It is important to remember that what people do really has nothing to do with us. People come in to their encounters with others with a combination of assumptions, expectations and beliefs about the world that are theirs alone. Each of us interacts with the world and with each other based on the reality that we see, and for each of us it is different. That each of us holds a unique perspective is obvious, but I think it is sometimes easy to forget when we don't understand another's motivations. It's pretty natural to make assumptions based on what we hold true, but that may not be true for the other person at all.
In his book, Ruiz says that, "Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind. . . Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds. Their point of view comes from all the programming they received during (their life)." I can imagine how much misunderstanding could be avoided if people could make this simple, but challenging, agreement with themselves.
He goes on to explain that it is best to not take personally even positive things that people say or do, because those are really not about us, either. "Whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don't take it personally. If they tell you how wonderful you are, they are not saying that because of you. You know you are wonderful."
This really is powerful stuff, couched in simple language. For me, it is another way to hear my own truth, and create my own outcome as I allow others to create theirs.
Finally, Ruiz says that, "As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won't need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself and make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you."
For me, this is one of the most important truths. As unique expressions of God, each of us lives and breathes intelligence beyond measure. Each of us is choosing our steps along our own perfect path to remembering fully who we are. They are our steps. People won't always agree or understand, just as we won't always understand others. But there is a sacred place for all of life, in its infinitely varied expression, and for its own sake alone.
May this tool be a blessing. . .