Who doesn’t love you, baby? (And why that’s not important)

I haven’t written about Don Miguel Ruiz and The Four Agreements lately.  The reason, at least in part, is that I managed to misplace my cards.  While emptying the bookcase, I set them somewhere they’d be safe; of course, now they’re gone and I don’t remember where.

The Four Agreements
image courtesy of http://www.miguelruiz.com

So I write today about one of the Four Agreements themselves:  Don’t Take Anything Personally.

This Agreement bothered me for years — I have taken many different things personally, throughout my life.  I thought I might list them all as part of this post, but I would have to write till Saturday, and I still wouldn’t have them all.  My family operated by taking things personally.  I became a champion competitor in this event.

I took personally every judgmental word my father ever said to me, and I still do now, even when he doesn’t mean them critically.  I took personally the teasing and taunting by my siblings when we were very young — some of it I still remember.  Since then,I came to trust my sibs for who they are, but still, with some of them, I don’t sense that all is forgotten.

I took personally any scholastic or academic negative evaluation — I even gave up my French Horn major, when the teacher wanted me to learn over from scratch.  I was sure that he was just trying to slow me down, or hold me back, when all he wanted was to teach me a better way to play.  I have taken jobs personally, to the point where I would quit, rather than facing criticism of my work.

And others’ opinions weren’t all I took personally.  I lacked the confidence to resist my vilification of myself — by the time I was 30, I had such a web of disappointment and disgust built up, I listened quite willingly when I called myself stupid, or weak, or lazy, or so many other self-disparaging names.  I had no defense at all; over the years, I became more and more crushed under my own chastisement, and that of people whom I love the most.  I was beaten down by my physical circumstances, by failed relationships and jobs.  I took anything and everything personally, adding minute by minute to my own misery.

What changed?  Many things, but especially a couple of my root beliefs.  Most importantly, I have forgiven my own shortcomings, which manifested themselves over so many years.  I learned to love myself for who I am, without trying to avoid or ignore my own faults and challenges, but also recognizing my own potential and accomplishment.

I learned, as well, to understand that all people say disdainful and unkind words about each other; what other people say about me is only as personal as I allow it to become.  In most circumstances, (though not all, and not always,) I choose not to allow others’ judgments to influence my life choices.  Sometimes, I believe I should, but I am always careful to remember that my self-judgments are the ones that count, and when I listen to them, I must always remember to love myself.

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3 responses to “Who doesn’t love you, baby? (And why that’s not important)

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