Don't Take Anything Personally

My oldest just finished fifth grade--a fact that sort of breaks this mama's heart.

Photo credit: catcherintheryephotography
I ask, "Where did the time go?," and, "How did we get here so quickly?," fairly often. It's amazing to me that she'll be twelve soon, considering she was only three when I started writing this blog. It was an exercise in creativity inspired by her; my little girl who liked to yell, "Mama Leisha!," from her shopping cart perch.

Fifth grade was an exciting journey down an unfamiliar road, with stops along the way at places like "Multiplying Fractions" and "Understanding the Magnitude of the Revolutionary War." As to be expected, there were a few bumps along the way.

Sadly, one of the hardest bumps to cruise through was the "I-don't-understand-why-she's-being-mean-to-me/She-hurt-my-feelings" bump. OYE!

Raising girls is hard, being a girl is hard, facing a mean girl with bravery on your shoulders and goodness in your heart is hard. And no matter how many conversations I have had with Lilly, reassuring her that things get better and girls get nicer as they get older, I knew I was only telling her a half truth.

I have been on the receiving end of some pretty hurtful stuff recently; catty comments and blatant snubbing from women I respected as my peers. It's been a little disconcerting and a lot sad.

And as I have waded through the emotional torrents of it all--seeking a way to forgive and learning to let things go--I have thought often of Don Miguel Ruiz and his book, "The Four Agreements."

When I was in college I went through a "hippie phase." It involved lots of incense burning and hemp wearing and poetry writing. I dove head first into reading and studying Eastern philosophy as well as lots of other “self improvement" books. One that was gaining in popularity while I was in college was the book, "The Four Agreements.”

The author, Don Miguel, was born into a family of healers and raised in rural Mexico by a healer mother and a shaman grandfather. (Shaman = medicine man.) The family had high expectations for Don Miguel and carried a deep hope that he would carry on their family's legacy of healing, teaching, and spiritualism. He chose, rather, to study western medicine and become a surgeon.

A near death experience following a horrific car accident changed Don Miguel’s life and path. Once recovered, he devoted himself to the mastery of the ancient, ancestral, Toltec wisdom; studying with his wise mother and completing an apprenticeship with a powerful shaman in the Mexican desert. He eventually became a shaman himself.

In 1997, he published his book about the four agreements (or four principles) to practice in order to create love and happiness in your life. The second agreement is my favorite, and is one I'm working to understand and accept everyday: 

“Don’t take anything personally.”

Don Miguel writes, "Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality...When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering."

Nothing others do is because of you. That is powerful stuff. It’s not really about you--the hurtful words and actions, the anger, the insensitivity, the judgement. Once we recognize that and then come to embrace that fact, we experience more peace and freedom in our lives. Freedom from worry, freedom from doubt. Freedom from insecurities. Freedom from hurt feelings and pain.

And with freedom comes joy.

Photo credit: catcherintheryephotography
So I'll tell Lilly to hold her head up high and remember to move forward with faith in her innate power and light.

I'll remember to tell myself the same thing.


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