“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.” - Don Miguel Ruiz
I was driving the other day, moving into the left hand turn lane when I started to hear a few honks. Making a left turn always makes my heart beat a little faster and my palms sweat. The only two accidents I have ever been in, involved being hit in the left turn lane. As soon as that light turns green, it becomes a crippling pressure whether or not to pull to the middle and the weight grows of the impatient drivers inching me forward. So, naturally, I am on edge when it comes to making left turns, especially at busy intersections.
Nevertheless, the honks continued as I succumbed to the pressure and inched forward. My eyes are glued to the road, searching for an opening and estimating safe and appropriate time to turn, all the while preparing my defense to justify my wait time. As the beeps increase and ping pong from each angle of the intersection, I find an opening, and finally make my turn. I am so relieved I can finally release my breath that I had been holding since I began this freaking turn, vowing to only make right turns from now on like my great aunts.
However, as I turn, the honks are continuing and I look to my side and low and behold, there is a Ghostbuster ghost standing on the corner holding a sign reading, “Honk if you like Halloween.”
It's Not About Me
This experience humbly reminded me what is so easy for me to forget; it’s not all about me. In fact, rarely is anything really about us. I often struggled with this concept over the years of hearing it. Yet, if we really think about it, it makes perfect sense.
We all come at life with a different lens, built, shaped and molded by our own experiences starting from day one. So, all we have to reference the events that come our way, is the perspective of this colored lens. When another acts or speaks, it is based on their experiences and expectations of what should and will happen; their rules from their experiences and beliefs as to what they have accepted as truth. When we take something personally, we are accepting their perspective as our own. We are accepting the words of another as truth for ourselves.
Give Up the Need to Defend
Without judging whether their rules are right or wrong, we can innately know that we have not had the same experiences, so we most likely will not see everything the exact same way, and that’s ok. We give up the need to defend, respectfully understanding the grand impossibility that somehow we have the super power to change or control their behavior or how they think by saying or doing something a certain way. Everyone’s experiences are different, so why do we think we can control the behavior or perspective of others? And why should we let their behavior or perspective control us?
If I am completely honest with myself, any time I am disturbed by something, reeling in anger, fear or sadness, it is because of me. I am hurt because I feel rejected or unaccepted. I am angry because I am fearful of losing something, someone or my reality as I see it. The challenge is, while we are all responsible for our own feelings, we exist together in this world. So, to understand we all come from a different perspective, it can help us to understand each other, removing the obstacles that bar us from truly being vulnerable, accepting others, and more importantly accepting ourselves.
While we can respect the experiences and rules of another, there is no need to accept them as our own. It really is not about us, and we need not take it, or anything else, personally.