It’s Not Personal

      When we go within for messages instead of outward, we are serving ourselves the best emotional nutrition.

Years ago, a friend introduced me to a jewel of a book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. According to Toltec wisdom, there are literally four keys or agreements that, once practiced, offer us a world of inner peace and freedom:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best

Ruiz writes that the cause of most human suffering comes from not following the above four agreements. And boy, is Ruiz right! This simple yet deeply insightful book has been my go-to for years. All four agreements work together and affect each other. 

As our world continues to grow more virtual each day, it’s become clear to me that we need a reminder in not taking anything personally. While we are each the center of our individual worlds, we are not the center to others. As Ruiz states so eloquently:

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.”

Words are a food for the soul. They possess the power to fuel or render us famished. But if we aren’t mindful, the words others serve us can make us sick. When we don’t take their words personally, we can continue to feed ourselves a diet that nourishes.

You can’t go onto social media now without reading someone’s vitriol regarding everything from a person’s weight to their political stance. If heeded, insulting words carry nutritional poison. But if you grow still, you will soon become aware that someone who is not happy with himself/herself serves those negative words. The poison they dish out is coming from within. You have the choice, the free will to not accept their toxic serving. Happy people don’t serve unhappiness—they literally don’t have it in them.

Actions that are cruel or toxic aren’t personal either. Ruiz notes this even in the extreme: “Even if someone got a gun and shot you in the head, it was nothing personal.” Again, negative behavior of any kind is a reflection of whatever is going on in another’s world and not about you.

This week alone, I have found myself grateful for Ruiz’s reminder that nothing is personal:

  • My friend calling me sleep-deprived after a 12-hour shift, articulating that I just don’t understand what she is going through.
  • My parents not calling on my son’s birthday, only to find out that they got the date mixed up.
  • Five people showing up to a virtual pre-launch book event of The Friendship Diet (after inviting over 100 folks) 

           Not taking anything personally also applies to compliments. While it feels good, we need to remember that, “If they tell you how wonderful you are, they are not saying that because of you. You know you are wonderful. It is not necessary to believe other people who tell you that you are wonderful.”

           When we go within for messages instead of outward, we are serving ourselves the best emotional nutrition. Looking outward for praise is a dish that will always leave one hungry for more; looking outward for guidance on who you are is the culinary equivalent of “too many cooks in the kitchen”: at best you end up with a hodge-podge of inedible messages and at worst, you experience emotionally painful heartburn.

            Nothing is personal. As Ruiz reminds us, when we know that nothing is personal “You can choose to follow your heart always. Then you can be in the middle of hell and still experience inner peace and happiness.”

“Serving Yourself a Pause”

What is Your Hunger Telling You?

School starts this week—for me, a middle school English teacher. The kids arrive virtually next month, so this is the time we educators start to ensure all of our academic ducks are in a row.

There is an uneasiness that often comes with the unknown, and virtual teaching in the midst of our pandemic is no exception. How will I effectively reach my new students? How will I effectively engage and connect with these young minds I have the gift and responsibility of educating?

Last week’s post focused on the magic-like pleasure experienced when embracing your passion. The example I shared was my love of writing and acting—a venture I reveled in manifesting and sharing with you on my YouTube channel.

Sometimes, we can get so caught up in a creative endeavor, we lose sight of the bigger picture. Last week, I was so hungry to combine my passion for writing and acting that I lost sight of the bigger picture: the optic and auditory effects of my comedic characters on the audience. 

My characters were meant to connect us, to create belly laughs and to promote my book. In my hunger to tickle your funny bone, I inadvertently eclipsed the gravitas of my book. So, I’ve taken the comedic characters down from my YouTube channel (I did keep my dear Sylvia Richmond. They may resurface as they were or in future comedic bits on a separate channel—apart from my book. I’m not sure where I want to go with them—and that’s okay. Like all of us, I’m learning as I go in this surreal experience called life.

The Friendship Diet is a book that focuses on the deep connection between our edible and emotional nutrition regarding our personal relationships. This includes our relationship—first and foremost—with ourselves. Today I write to you, aware that my emotional hunger is telling me to serve myself a heaping plate of pause, of rest, of time. My students deserve a teacher who is focused and hungry to educate and inspire her students. 

Whatever is happening in your life right now, if you are feeling overwhelmed and like the figurative walls are closing in on you, it’s more than okay—no, it’s vital that you serve yourself a pause dish. When we serve ourselves a pause dish, we are better serving others.