Practical spiritualityBottom Highlights, Online Only, Where's the Faith? Thursday, January 19th, 2017
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
Based on the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, there is power in this second agreement:
Don’t take anything personally.
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
I like that line: “When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering!” Wow! Sign me up!
This is easier said than done; especially to those of us who grew up wanting/needing the approval of others. I used to joke with my friend Jim that we were “approval addicts”. Can you relate?
It’s not so easy when we hear someone criticizing us or judging us to not take it personally for us approval addicts. When we take it personally, it hurts and it will continue to hurt for as long as we hold on to it.
Here’s the good news! When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you are free!
Sometimes I’ll say to someone, “Be a duck!” They look at me, “Like what?!” Then I explain, as water beads up and rolls off a duck’s back, so let whatever it is that you’ve let attach to you, negative words, comments, actions, or even a look, let it go if it doesn’t serve you well. Be a duck!
Proverbs 12:6 says, “The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush, but the speech of the upright delivers them.” Words have power!
Let’s say you’re hanging out with friends, everything is going nicely, and someone says to you, “Gee, you don’t look very well today. Are you feeling OK?”
That gets your mind going, the seed is planted, “Is something wrong with me? Hmm, what’s wrong with me? Do I look sick? Maybe I don’t feel well. Come to think of it, I think I feel a headache coming on!” See what just happened? You know what I call that? Stinkin’ thinkin’!
It’s stinkin’ thinkin’ when you take what someone else has said (or you thought they said) personally. By doing that, you know what you’ve just done? You’ve given them power. Lots of power!
You give the power of their negative word power over you. Don Miguel Ruiz says the reason you take it personally is because you’ve made an agreement with whatever was said. As soon as you agree to whatever they’ve said, the poison power of their negative word goes through you, like an arrow and you’re wounded.
What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. We never know what someone is going through. We never know the pain they are in – what they are silently suffering inside – what they’re internalized and just kept on stuffing down. And what’s inside, especially if it’s bottled up will eventually come out, one way or another.
Many times hurt and pain come out in biting words, in sarcasm, in belittling someone else in order to build themselves up or gossiping about someone in order to “stir the pot” often at someone else’s expense.
Sometimes, we take on the responsibility of trying to fix someone else. Ever do that? The truth is, we are responsible for some things. We are responsible for our actions and our reactions. However, we are not responsible for fixing others, that’s their job, with God’s help, and our support and encouragement.
I had a therapist tell me, “Repeat after me, ‘What others think of me is none of my business.’”
Toltec wisdom says that nothing others do is because of you rather, it’s because of themselves. What others say, what others do, and the opinions they give are their business, not yours.
Rev. Tony Freeman once said in a sermon, “If God had a wallet; your picture would be in it!” And in this day of smartphones, you’d definitely be in the photo album too. God loves you so much!
Oh, there’s such power and freedom when we can live into this agreement of not taking everything so personally. The whole world can talk behind your back and if you don’t take it personally, you are immune to that suffering. Someone can say hurtful words and if you’re free from taking it so personally, you’re immune to the pain. This is a hard one to do, so be gentle on yourself and take baby steps. It’ll get easier with time and intentionality.
What does the second agreement say? Don’t take anything personally. So, turn the negative around, like our Scripture goes on to say; “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
What a powerful admonition! Can you imagine what this country would be like if we even tried to live like this?
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