Sometimes I wish I had the power to travel back in time and shake myself for letting other people’s comments affect me! I’ve probably been held back in so many ways and without realising, gave up on so many of my life’s ambitions. I wish back then, I came across The Four Agreements and in particular, the second agreement. I can imagine a lot of people feel the same way. But it’s a sensitive thought that others don’t admit to, for fear of coming across as weak. I’ve written my interpretation of the 2nd Agreement and I hope it will help in the search for the thing some of us most crave…thick skin!
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my previous post on the first agreement –Be impeccable with your word.
Click the link here:
So as you’ve probably guessed, this agreement was and is the hardest one for me to master. Some people think that taking other people’s comments to heart, kind or unkind, demonstrates some sort of humility. They believe that it keeps you in touch with the real world because ignorance exists and we must accept this. I can accept this but I have no intention of letting it shape or define my destiny anymore. After reading the second agreement I felt like there is more of a compelling argument to not take things personally. I mean, who wants to put their self-esteem in the hands of other people’s opinions?
Opinions – What and how?
Our opinions are the result of our agreements (thoughts on life). We form our agreements from birth and they are normally a result of our surroundings. It is possible, to have positive every day agreements based on good life experiences. Alternatively, it’s possible to have the opposite. For example, a bad experience with a teacher could result in an agreement that you’re horrible at maths. This becomes your opinion of yourself and you carry it for the rest of your life. You could also be told that you’re ugly or incapable of achieving something. Before these comments resonate inside you, you must always question people’s motives.Once the motives are clear you will realise that there is no need to accept people’s negativity.
What are people’s motives?
When you receive criticism that’s not constructive in any way, ask yourself: what’s their motive? How or why might they want to inhibit you? And what negative agreements have they made with themselves? Remember that they are probably trying to create agreements inside you. Almost like passing poison onto you to corrupt your mind. If you take what they say personally, you accept their poison. It will live within you and you will be infected with a harmful agreement. The trick is to not give these comments or actions any personal importance.
What is personal importance
Personal importance is the assumption that everything is about you. It’s a form of selfishness. We may think that a person who has behaved in a disrespectful way is down to our personal flaws. It’s not. Nothing other people do is because of you. It’s because of them. It’s because they have agreements that you don’t comply with. But so what! You didn’t make those agreements so why bother feeling responsible for theirs? Like the agreement goes – don’t take it personally.
Ruiz also states that we have a need to be right and for others to be wrong. It’s the battle of the opinions. We concentrate on winning the argument but only for the sake of winning and at the cost of the truth or facts. We also want to defend the dream or nightmare we have created by arguing with others that our reality is in fact the only one. What’s sad is that sometimes we can give ourselves this personal importance at the cost of hurting others.
The market place – mitote
When you take things personally your mind creates a whole mixed bag of agreements. Your head starts to sound like a busy market place with voices crashing against each other. It creates disabling confusion. Remember these agreements have been accepted when you’ve previously taken things personally. Therefore you end up confused, lost and sometimes angry with life. What you need to do is to create an inventory of your agreements and try to get rid of noise. It sounds difficult and I find that it is impossible to get rid of all of them. But if we stick to the second agreement of not taking things personally, we can at least limit the amount of poison we accept.
Are we all liars?
How many people out there lie to themselves? Well, if they can do it to themselves they can do it to others. Therefore, it would be foolish to take a negative comment personally as it could be based on lies!
We’ve all lied to ourselves at some point. I can remember trying to convince myself that my life was filled with bad luck and failure. Based on this, I disagreed with other people’s positive agreements just to convince them to take on mine. I basically gave myself robust personal importance. A few years later, I realised that it all came from the poison I had created within. I had taken things personally, internalised it and became ignorant to the truth. The two phrases that helped me begin to overcome this were:
1. Don’t believe your own hype
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself
1. Don’t believe your own hype
Remember a positive comment can also be taken too personally. When things are going well for you, you could start thinking you can do no wrong and put yourself on a pedestal. Being surrounded by grounded people is a must. They can help you keep your feet on the ground and essentially achieve even more in life.
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Many of us can also be too hard on ourselves. If you have a small set back don’t attach it to every set back you’ve had in the past just so that you can produce a compelling argument for your bad luck. Setbacks occur for everyone but I find that there can be solutions. As with most things, time needs to be spent finding those solutions and not dwelling on the negative agreements you’ve formed or unwittingly taken from others. If someone makes a negative comment to you, don’t give it any importance. Remember it’s not personal it’s just ignorance on their part. Nothing you can do about that.
Finally I’d like to end with a quote that really sums up the second agreement.
“It’s none of my business what you think of me.”
Remember this the next time someone tries to poison you with a limiting comment.
I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of the second agreement. If you’re interested in the book I’ve attached the link for your convenience.
Be sure to check out my next blog post on the third agreement – Always question assumptions (it’s my favourite thing to do!).
As always thanks for reading,
The Young Philosopher BCN