Don’t take anything personally | Don’t make assumptions
Some may recognise this month’s topic from Don Miguel Ruiz’s book ‘The four agreements’, a New York Times bestseller for more than a decade.
The concepts and ideas from this book were inspired by ancient Toltec lore and aims to help us realise our full potential as well-balanced individuals, to remove the weight of other people’s expectations from our shoulders. The focus is to address self-limiting beliefs that would ultimately lead to a change in self-limiting behaviour. As identified by Ruiz, there are two fundamental sources of self-limitation: the tendency to take personal offense and the assumptions that we make. This month, Conrad, is sharing his take on the lessons that can be extracted from this ancient source of wisdom. According to Ruiz, these habits can be changed, if only we could recognise the conditioning and early domestication of our minds.
What lessons can be extracted from this ancient source of wisdom? According to Ruiz, these habits can be changed, if only we could recognise the conditioning and early domestication of our minds.
- Don’t take anything personally
Sit back and ask yourself, what significant proportion of personal suffering has been caused by our tendency to assume that someone else’s opinion is a factual interpretation of yourself or your course of action. Surely, we all have an inclination to take criticism personally and therefore to feel offended. As a result, your reflex is to defend your beliefs and to create conflict. You make something big out of a minor hiccup, because you have the need to be right.
When such thoughts occur, what do you do? Whether they are your own thoughts, or whether they are due to conditioning , they appear, seemingly out of nowhere, they visit, and then they leave. After all, the world’s best Neuroscientists have no idea where thoughts originate; they come and they go regardless of what you do. There may be times where you have ideas that don’t originate in your mind; however, you are always perceiving them with your mind. Even the opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true. Therefore, you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your mind personally.
According to Ruiz, we have a choice; whether or not to believe our thoughts. The truth of the matter is that you always have a choice of what to pay attention to, and this affects what you believe. Taking nothing personally can help to break many habits and routines that trap us in a dream of needless suffering. When you make a strong habit of avoiding personal offense, it puts you in a position to avoid many aspects of life that cause jealousy, envy, anger or even sadness. You only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices of what to pay attention to.
- Don’t make assumptions
Similar to our propensity to take things personally, we tend to make assumptions or to jump to conclusions. These assumptions are made so fast and unconsciously, we rarely recognise their presence in our day-to-day communications. The human mind seeks to justify, to explain and understand in order to feel safe. It is not important whether the answer is correct; just the answer makes us feel safe. The problem with assumptions, is that we instinctively believe they are the truth.
In our leap to conclusions, we misunderstand and we take it personally when we are wrong. Even if we hear something that we don’t understand, we tend to make assumptions about what it means and then proceed to believe these assumptions, because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.
How to change these habits?
Attention is the ability to discriminate and to focus on what we want to perceive. This is the way we have learned everything we know, and this is the tool that we have to our disposal in order to make new agreements with ourselves. Although we don’t have the power to control our thoughts, if we pay sufficient attention, we can notice how our thoughts arise in consciousness, stay a while and finally, leave. The ones that you choose to pay attention to are those that determine the quality of your subjective experience.
In order to recognise the conditioning and domestication of our minds, we need to investigate the way that we think by asking questions and clarifying what it is that we assume to be true.
Habits don’t just change by themselves. You need to make an agreement with yourself and commit in order to change your habits and free yourself from self-limiting beliefs and behaviour. An agreement that you will:
- Be brave enough to ask questions.
- Make wise choices regarding which thoughts to pay attention to.
live it. love it. do it.
Chrizelda & Team