I recently decided to read The Four Agreements (by Don Miguel Ruiz) again. This is probably my 4th or 5th time reading the book. There was a specific message I needed to remind myself of and I felt almost compelled to read it and STAT!
This book changed my life when I first came across it (easily 10 years ago now). I know that term gets thrown around a lot “such and such changed my life”, however in this case I am dead serious.
I used to take everything personally, and I mean EVERYTHING. I am already a pretty sensitive person, yet that sensitivity had no boundaries or awareness. Any little thing someone would say I would make it about me somehow.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I was pretty miserable during that time.
Nothing I ever did felt good enough or right as I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I felt responsible for everything and everyone. There was barely any thought regarding my desires, opinions, beliefs. It was all focused out.
Forget it when it came to romantic relationships. In my world, the entire fate of the relationship landed on me. I was constantly on edge, whether I realized it or not, because I had to be so careful about what I said or did so as not to rock the boat. No wonder I was a stress case. I could never rest because of my hyper vigilance.
Given all that, when I finally read “The Four Agreements”, the one ‘agreement’ that profoundly transformed the way I saw the world and myself was “Don’t take anything personally.” And when he says anything, he means ANYTHING.
The premise is that nothing anyone says or does is ever about you.
It’s their stuff, based on their beliefs, seen through their filters, stemming from their previous experiences and spoken from their opinions.
Radical notion, I know, however there is merit to it. Think about it. You could say the exact same thing, in the exact same tone, to five different people and they will all react differently. Same goes for the way you act.
For example, I can be super lovey and affectionate (as I usually am) with everyone I come across (as I usually do), yet some folks will soak it up and others will reject it.
The kicker is, their reaction has NOTHING to do with me. Nothing! There is such freaking freedom in that knowledge, it’s unbelievable. The burden that is released when we really embrace that is palpable.
Even though I KNOW this from having read about it years ago, implemented it into my life in a powerful way and practice it consistently, I still slip up.
Sometimes those lapses in memory, that it’s not all about me, take me on a fast track to my own personal hell.
Case in point (and the reason I needed to run, not walk, to grab The Four Agreements again) was an interaction I was having with my current partner, lover and friend, Bob.
He had come to visit Southern California and we had a whole week to spend together. I couldn’t wait to see him since it had been 5 weeks from the last time we were in person. I was literally counting down the days until I would pick him up at the airport.
As if it isn’t obvious, I have been in that floating fully ‘in love’ place hard core since we started dating.
A few days in he admitted to me that he has been struggling as a result of being in relationship with me. He made it very clear that it was not about me and that it was his own old fears, patterns, insecurities coming up. He shared how it was impacting him and his concern for how it may be impacting me.
In that moment, and the rest of the time he was with me, I was able to take myself out of the equation and focus on him and inquire into how I could support him. I was worried, not about me, but him. I saw the anguish he was experiencing and it broke my heart.
Yet as soon as he left, it was a WHOLE other situation. The seeds that were planted from his fears began to grow roots within me and activate my fears. Where I felt removed (and free) when we were together, aka the soil was not fertile for those seeds, I began to take it all personally when we were apart.
I started to think he was feeling that way because of me, because of something I must have been doing or how I was being, that something had changed! Thoughts such as “Maybe us being together in person showed him that I wasn’t the woman for him.” or “Maybe he doesn’t love me or want me anymore and is just too afraid to tell me.”
The following four days literally felt like hell. Any little thing set me off. My sensitivity to his words and actions increased ten-fold and it fucked with my head big time.
Instead of standing firm in what I knew, that none of what he is going through is about me and that I am still amazing, loving, deserving, I allowed my own insecurities to feed off of his. My self-confidence wavered and what once felt solid, now felt shaky and untrustworthy.
The crazy part is … this happens ALL the time in relationships.
Regardless of how confident and self aware we are, there is something about an intimate connection that will test your resolve and self-love!
In fact relationships are designed to shake you up so that you can finally heal from all that old childhood bullshit you inherited from your parents, or parental figures around you!
Thankfully I was communicating all of this to him, about my own fears being triggered and the work I am doing to address or work through them. This wasn’t my first rodeo in that sense, I know when my stuff is coming up, yet I upheld my vow of doing things differently.
The antidote was an obvious one, and it was simply reminding myself that “This is HIS stuff and not MINE. None of this is about ME.”
I went back to going about my business and making sure I am well cared for and loved. That is all we can ever do anyway! We are the only ones we have control of, as it should be.
I even honestly asked myself how I would be if we did end up breaking up and although I got emotional and sad at the thought, the answer was “I know I will be more than okay”.
We get to have trust and faith in our partners to figure their own path out in life. It’s not our job to do that for them. Whatever is supposed to happen in the relationship will happen and in the end it really is for our greatest good.
The sooner we stop taking the words, behaviors, actions, beliefs, etc of our partners personally, the sooner we can have much more peace, freedom and joy in our relationships.
After I remembered the important things: I am amazing, Bob is doing his best, we have an amazing connection, I was able to chill the fuck out and enjoy him/us again.
I felt like we were back to normal because of my ability to care for myself and regain perspective. Last night we were watching comedy together (virtually as he is in Florida at the moment) and laughing our asses off!
I never said it would be easy, however it is well worth the intention and the work. Your heart and soul will thank you for it, and so will your partner!
Photo Credit: Flick/Leland Francisco
P.S. If you are wanting to do some work around the limiting beliefs and insecurities you have around love and raising the relationship bar for your expectations to Amazing … I have a retreat for you. It is a one day retreat, where myself and two powerful women will be working with you to release whatever has been blocking you from having the relationship of your dreams and then getting crystal clear on what it looks like so you can effortlessly manifest it. Major healing, major transformation and major manifestation in the love department. Won’t you join us?