“Don’t take anything personally” (Ruiz 47).
This one’s a toughy. Ruiz claims that no matter what someone, or something, does, it is not about you, it is about them, or it.
Don’t take it personally.
My first response to this agreement was anger and disbelief. How can a person who’s been victimized by things such as war, rape, torture, corruption, greed and crime not take it personally? How can a person who’s been neglected and abused as a child not take what was done to them personally? I took what was done to me very personally. But this was why I was trapped in a “stupid and worthless” life. In fact, I took that personally, too. I took what my father did ( and said ) to me, personally.
This agreement was very hard to break. But I finally realized that it wasn’t what my father did ( or said) to me that was causing my life problems, it was my agreement with him that caused my problems. This agreement in no way condones someone’s bad or horrific acts. It simply frees one from the power the act has. It frees one from the need to be, and feel offended or victimized. Or to own and perpetuate the travesty within one’s soul.
This, for me, remains the hardest of all the agreements. I have to practice it everyday. For example, in the classroom students will either like or dislike me, and I need to constantly re-agree within myself that, either way, it has nothing to do with me. It has to do with them. If they think I am a total bitch or a complete angel, it’s about them, their perceptions of me, not me. Period.
On writing: Writer’s by nature are very sensitive people. We labor to create something and then out into the world it goes only to be smashed to pieces by people who are not impeccable with their word. The fear of being criticized shuts down many writers. It is a guarantee that someone somewhere will hate what you do.
My MFAW program did a number on me in this way. Writer’s are the worst when it comes to breaking the Four Agreements. I came to the realization that no matter what I wrote, someone hated and found massive fault with it. And I despaired. How can one possibly please every writer’s sensibilities?
For me, the urge and need to write are strong. So is the love. My job is to write what needs to be written, not to write to please other writers. I know and agree that some people are probably going to hate my writing. The cure for this is has been the understanding that many people will also love my writing.
Either way, it’s not personal. It is about them. Not me.
Ruiz, Don Miguel. The Four Agreements. California: Amber-Allan Publishing. 1997.