Imagine that you are walking outside and you notice dark clouds forming above you. Unfortunately, you have no umbrella. This is a shame because you’re wearing a brand new outfit and you’d hate to get it wet.
You try to run for shelter but it’s too late—a downpour has made you soaking wet. Now you’ll be drenched all day until you can get home and change your clothes. How unlucky you are! You were just minding your own business and suddenly you got caught in the rain. If only you had the protection of your umbrella!
As we live our daily lives, it may seem like we have no control over how we feel. Indeed, we are just as vulnerable to the words and actions of others as we are to a rainstorm. Even if we are in a great mood, all it takes is one comment about our weight or a careless driver cutting us off and suddenly, we are soaking wet.
But what if we had our umbrella? What can protect us from the discourteous, thoughtless remarks and actions of others? According to bestselling author Don Miguel Ruiz, the answer is simple: don’t take anything personally.
In "The Four Agreements," Ruiz1 offers simple, yet profound words of wisdom. The actions of other people do not need to have any negative effect on you.
If you take things personally, you make yourself a victim of anything that others say or do. This is like riding bumper cars and feeling outraged that others are colliding into you! Some may hit you because they are being careless or they have no control over their car. Others may crash into you deliberately. It would be quite silly to feel upset about this because we know that when we ride bumper cars, we are going to get hit.
Likewise, in our lives, we will inevitably be struck by the criticisms and oversights of others. Will you be disturbed and flustered by what other people do? Realize that it makes no sense to give people such power over you.
1Ruiz, Don M. (1997). The Four Agreements. San Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen Publishing. 2 Gilovich, T., Medvec, V. H., & Savitsky, K. (2000). The spotlight effect in social judgment: An egocentric bias in estimates of the salience of one’s own actions and appearance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 211-222.
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