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It’s Not About YOU!

July 5, 2013

Kitten Reads a Book: Part 3

The next agreement is the one that really changed how I see everything.

It’s such a simple idea that took me such a long time to accept. That was because no one ever phrased it quite the way this author does.

The basic idea is this: everything everyone does or says, even when it seems to be personal, when it seems to be directed at you….even when you think you deserve their words or actions….both good and bad……everything everyone does or says……is not about you…’s about that person. It has nothing to do with you.

When you allow someone to make you feel a certain way, you’re agreeing with what they are saying. You don’t have to. You don’t have to take it personally. Because it’s not about you. It’s about them.

We all know that everyone is carrying around with them their own set of baggage. Their own experiences, their own belief systems, the agreements they have with others and themselves. Their past, their anger, their unresolved issues. People have egos and opinions. But it’s all based on their own view of the world, of life. Even your parents, your siblings, your children, the person you love the most in the world, even your friends that know you better than anyone else……they are all walking around looking through a different prism than you are. And they’re not always being impeccable with their word. So everything anyone says or does has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

For me, this idea changed how I perceive all of my interactions with people. And it changed how I view my past.

I’ve written a lot about the environment of blame and criticism I lived with in my marriage. My writing is evidence that the wounds are still healing. Now, I see that environment differently and I see what was missing from the ideas the marriage therapists tried to explain to me. When my husband said things that left me feeling belittled, unworthy and a failure……it wasn’t about me……it was about him. He was acting from his own skewed world view, his own insecurities, fears, pain and delusions. I didn’t have to accept his emotional poison. But I did. And that’s my responsibility. I accepted it because I believed it. That’s on me. I can see now that I was responsible for my own happiness, not him. I don’t blame him anymore. (At least, I’m trying not to.)

My unhappiness wasn’t his fault. He really didn’t cause me to feel that way. I allowed myself to feel that way. I took everything he said very personally! I believed it and accepted it. What I understand now is, that was my problem. Not his. And his angry words, his unhappiness were his problem, not mine. It’s much easier to accept this now that I’m no longer under his influence. I’m not sure I could have

After I read and accepted this concept, everything changed. I talked to my boss. I heard what he said and I knew what he was telling me wasn’t about me. He was operating from his world view, with his needs and agenda first. His ideas about my job aren’t about me. They’re about him.

When my co-worker snapped at me when I wanted to go over some text for a brochure, my instinct was to feel rejected and angry. “She’s not taking me seriously. She doesn’t value my opinion. This isn’t going the way I wanted it to.” Those were my initial thoughts. Then I stopped and thought, “No, this isn’t about me. She’s feeling confused and she told me exactly what she needs. Her words are based on her view, not about me.” So I did what she asked me to do and then we had a productive and collaborative meeting because I didn’t take it personally.

When my son got upset with me on the phone because I made a joke and he was stressed out and not in the mood for our usual comedy routine, I could have gotten angry with him. I could’ve chastised him. But I knew it wasn’t about me. It was just evidence of what he was going through. So, I didn’t take it personally. I didn’t feel hurt. And we talked later about what was going on his life and I tried to help him.

When I think back now to that awful phrase my husband had said to me, “You’re nothing but a burden to me.” That wasn’t true. I knew it wasn’t true. That was about him. That had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with what he was going through. But that doesn’t mean I should have just taken it. It just means I didn’t have to believe it. And I was right to leave a person who was abusing me with poisonous words.

That’s also the part the therapists left out. The other side of “no one is responsible for how you feel” is….because it’s their own bullshit they’re dealing with. It’s not about you. But it is about them. Not taking things personally doesn’t stop someone from trying to abuse you. It just gives you the tool to know that you don’t need to accept their poison. And if their abuse continues….you walk away! The therapists didn’t say that either.

The author writes:

Tell yourself the truth. It hurts but it’s ok because healing is on the way. Walking away from people who hurt you may hurt…but your heart will heal. Then you can choose what you really want.

Your heart will heal and then you can choose what you really want. That sentence really got to me. I’m not sure I would have been able to believe it if I had not been through things that showed me that my heart can heal from tremendous pain. I watched my mother die. I divorced the love of my life and survived it. I’m still alive. I’m ok. I’m happy. So, now when I want to take a risk, like telling a man I love him and I want to be with him or change jobs or try to learn something new…..there’s no reason not to do those things. The risk is that I might fail or feel pain later. But it’s ok. Because my heart will heal. And then I’ll still be alive and can choose what I want.

I know it sounds crazy but I smile just reading that sentence. There were days when I woke up having panic attacks because I didn’t know how to live anymore. I didn’t know if I was going to survive the loss of everything I knew to be my life. So much change and loss and I was in so much pain. But my heart did heal. That taught me what is possible.

So, not taking things personally allows me to walk out in the world immune. Because I know who I am and I know my own worth. My boss just walked into my office and told me he really liked the graphic I created. I said “thank you,” and I appreciate that he gave me that compliment. But this agreement teaches me that I don’t need him to say that. I knew that graphic was awesome! This isn’t arrogance. When I created it, I was being my best authentic self. So, of course it was good. It’s good no matter what anyone thinks of it, good or bad. That’s not taking things personally.

Now, I walk into the world armed with this tool. Anyone can say anything they want to me. I can be subjected to compliments, insults, sarcasm, arrogance, lashing out, rudeness, humor, love….it doesn’t matter……and I can maintain my worth and sense of self……I can keep my peace of mind because I know none of it is about me. I can feel loved and accepted or I can feel hurt and rejected. It’s all ok because I control what happens next. I can enjoy the happiness and wait for my heart to heal.

And then I can do what I want.

If you keep this agreement you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say I love you without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes or no without guilt or judgment. You can choose to follow your heart. You can stay in a state of bliss.


From → Rantings

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