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Taking Things Personally

Updated: Jan 20

Is it just me, or does it feel like the whole world has become really easily offended?

Last week’s challenge was to focus on ways to reduce the number of decisions we make each day and thereby reduce unnecessary suffering. How did that go?

This week we are continuing our focus on reducing unnecessary suffering that can distract us from living in the moment, from doing that which is truly important to us with the people who are truly important to us.

In our life coaching methodology, we believe one of the most important personal development books perhaps ever written is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you don’t already own this book, hit pause on this video and order it right now. I’m serious! Hit pause and order it! If you already have it, this week is a great time to take it off your shelf and re-read it!

One of the four agreements is “Don’t take anything personally.” Ruiz explains that nothing other people do or say is because of us. It’s because of them. That all people live life through their own unique perspectives in their own minds. Be sure and read chapter three in The Four Agreements to get his whole explanation.

Unfortunately, taking things personally has become a national obsession. It keeps people with opposing views from even being able to have a civil conversation.

There are three primary ways people try to influence others:

  1. Coercion - the attempt to persuade someone to do something by using force or the threat of force. It can work sometimes, but usually not for long.

  2. Manipulation - the practice of persuading someone to do something by using emotions (usually guilt) and often out-and-out misinformation. Once again, it can work for a while until the person finds out the truth, and now there’s an even bigger problem.

  3. Agreement is by far the most powerful of the three, but this involves an actual conversation which is all but impossible when both sides are taking everything the other says or does personally. Even if we agree to disagree without taking it personally, we have an agreement, and life can move on drama-free.

This week’s challenge is to use The Lifeonomics’ 3 “R’s” of communication to help better manage our time and attention.

When someone attempts to capture your attention, ask yourself am I going to

  1. React: This usually doesn’t require much thought and is done very quickly.

  2. Respond: This means taking the time to consider our response as well as our motives.

  3. Refrain - Just because someone attempts to capture your attention doesn’t mean you have to let them. You can just grab your own ears and focus elsewhere. Remember… what we feed grows.

Take these three steps, and you’ll find it is easier to resist the habit of taking things personally.

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