Here’s a thought I’d like to share…
Don’t take anything personally.
~Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements)
My dog, Jack, is a Tibetan Terrier. Tibetan Terriers were originally bred and raised in monasteries by lamas and were kept as good luck charms, mascots, watchdogs, and companions. They are reserved by nature, and Jack is particularly so.
Jack goes to work with me every day. He sits by my chair and is quiet as a mouse. He looks a bit like a stuffed animal, so people often want to pet him. I’m cool with that, but Jack sometimes isn’t. He might back up or move away. People will sweetly call to him and expect him to behave like most dogs would and come. Jack doesn’t do that.
Some people take Jack’s reserved nature personally. They get their feelings hurt or perhaps get a little offended. Jack is just being Jack. His behavior is about him, not them. He’s taking care of himself in the only way he knows how. It’s his nature.
At first, I found myself wishing Jack would be friendlier and I felt impatient with him. But what I figured out was that I was impatient with Jack because I wanted people to like him and enjoy him like I do. My discomfort with Jack being reserved wasn’t Jack’s issue — it was mine. I was taking it personally.
“Don’t take anything personally” is advice that asks us to look at our reactions, be aware of our own stuff’, and then take full responsibility for that. As the old saying goes, “No one can make you feel a certain way without your permission.”
When people are reserved, we often get offended or impatient. We see their behavior as rude or impolite when, really, they are just being who it is that they are. The same is true when we as parents, partners, or friends, take the behavior of our children, partner or friend to be about who WE are rather than realizing it is about who that person is.
When we do the work of “not taking anything personally,” we cease to blame, play the victim, and give away our power. And that leads to kinder interactions, a stronger sense of personal empowerment, and more choices about what the next right step can be.
Wishing you a kinder, stronger, more choice-filled life,