I ran into someone the other day in the East Village and this person was not super cheery (like he usually is) and kind of just whatever-ed me by only paying attention to his phone.
Cycle of thoughts:
- OMG, what did I do?
- Did I post something on social media that weirded him out?
- Did I forget to get back to him about something?
- Is he OK? Is he having a bad day?
Those were the first four; I’m sure I also had other bizarre assumptions, but here’s what I ultimately decided about the situation: it’s not personal.
Because really, how often are people’s responses, comments, opinions, and actions actually personal?
“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” – Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
I also have a friend who assumes that anytime she doesn’t get a text back from someone, they are MAD at her, so she texts and calls even more.
Why do we torture ourselves so much?
I feel like we are hardwired to just finish the story.
One thing does or doesn’t happen and we need the why, the answer, the story.
My friend didn’t write me a thank you note, so she must not care very much about me.
Someone says I am not successful because I am shy. I choose to believe it.
He never texted me back, so he must think I’m ugly.
My parents bought my brother a more expensive gift, so they must like him more than me.
We make it personal when it’s really not at all. And if you thought it was, why don’t you just ask some questions and be vulnerable?
Sometimes the truth from those very conversations will set you free and you can move on from friendships, false ideas, and inaccurate assumptions.
People certainly aren’t always honest, but we can be so much better at not assuming or taking things personally.
“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 to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others.” – Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
So when someone doesn’t say “I love you” back or you’re being ignored or your friend didn’t show up for you, don’t take it personally and don’t assume the worst.
One thing I reiterate over and over again to myself and friends is that we don’t know someone’s story. What if the guy who was ignoring me in the East Village was dealing with a crisis or having a difficult conversation. We just don’t know and if we don’t ask, the stories we make up are likely inaccurate.
I’ll leave you with one more quote from this amazing book that I haven’t even read yet, however I basically have considering I’ve read pages of quotes from it.
“Just do your best — in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment. By always doing your best, you will break a big spell that you have been under.”
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