Monday, December 14, 2015

It's Not Personal

"Don't Take Anything Personally" is Don Miquel Ruiz's second suggestion in his book The Four Agreements. I initially assumed he was talking about choosing to overlook negative feedback, as harsh criticism can be damaging to our self-esteem. But further reading highlights this agreement's connection to the practice of humility.

...And It's Not About Me
Not only does Ruiz believe that others' words and actions are about themselves and not about ME, he is adamant that taking other's truth as our truth is an example of practicing our "personal importance"--- a form of selfishness that assumes everything is about ME. He promises that a sense of freedom and autonomy will come from not accepting others' beliefs about us -- good or bad. When we know that what others say is simply a reflection of their own inner world, the lens they are looking through, the ever-running script in their heads, we can become immune to the poison that may be the toxic agreements they have made with Life. We have the responsibility, and the choice, to avoid the suffering that accompanies accepting others' beliefs as our own. I'm NOT the center of the universe, but I can achieve more centeredness by leaving others' words and actions to them. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Truth to Tell

In Don Miguel Ruiz's classic self-help book, The Four Agreements, he offers four rules for living that he suggests will allow us to "escape hell" and live in a "heaven on earth" of our own making. The first agreement is more than a challenge to speak only the truth.

Be Impeccable with Your Word

On first reading, this agreement seems to echo a common value: "Tell the truth." But Ruiz expands the concept to include what we tell ourselves. We can understand the social niceties that encourage us to speak kindly to others, to soften criticism with helpful suggestions, and to avoid sharing information that will only hurt, and not help. When it comes to our own self-talk, we are much less likely to be as selective. We may berate, shame, guilt and demean ourselves with an almost automatic frequency when we falter or misstep in our lives. And we can be just as quick to believe these false scripts. Ruiz maintains that telling the truth to ourselves requires that we acknowledge what is real: our goodness, the softness of our hearts, our boundless ability to love. Only in recalling our own beginnings from the stuff of stardust and unending energy can we live, and speak, our truth.