My whole life I have taken EVERYTHING personally. A teacher yelled at me, my friends started a rumor about me, a stranger gave me a dirty look, a boy didn't text me back. And if you are someone who takes things personally you know it hurts, it really hurts. Because it makes you to think "what did I do?" or "what's wrong with me?" and so you spend your time trying to please people, but you're really just setting yourself up for failure. "What's wrong with me" was a song that played relentlessly in my mind through most of my teenage/young adult life. I let others rage, hatred, sadness and opinions directly impact me because I thought their reactions said something about me, but that's where I was incredibly wrong.
The words, actions, and reactions of others have absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Though we are all physically living in the same world, we all live vastly different lives and have different experiences. As Ruiz says, "When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world." It made me realize it's almost self centered to think that what other people say and do is about you, because in reality they are just living their own life, just as you are trying to live yours. It's impossible for someone to know your reality, and it is impossible for you to know theirs. If someone snaps at me, my instant reaction would be to internalize it, to get upset, but instead it's important to detach oneself from the situation and think about the big picture. I may think the person is being mean, or is a bitch, or intended to hurt me, but I have no clue what caused them to lash out. They could have been running late, maybe they just got into a heated argument, or maybe they're really struggling and don't know how to handle it. Does that excuse their actions? No, but it explains them. And I think if we all searched a little bit more for explanations we would understand each other and the world a little bit better. Now that I have stepped back from the situation I can think, "Okay, that may have seemed hurtful, but it has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with them." It's not easy by any means, but it makes for more pleasant life.
When you take things personally you are opening yourself up to so much unnecessary suffering. And let's be real, life is full of pain and suffering, so why add more? I was often been called a doormat because of my unfortunate habit of taking things personally, and I was a doormat, because I was letting people walk all over me, I was letting them dictate my happiness. I made it easy for people to hurt me because I let them. But the moment you stop taking things personally is the moment you set yourself free from the negativity of others. It's not easy, it requires constant work and taking steps back, but it is very worthwhile.
And lastly, be aware what you are saying, of how you are reacting, because chances are you have been the villain once or twice. We all do it, and all we can do is make the conscious effort to be better about it. So stop taking everything so damn personally, because as Ruiz says, "if you do no take it personally, you are immune in the middle of hell. Immunity in the middle of hell is the gift of this agreement." Suffering is hell, but by not taking things personally, we have the ability to end the suffering, a chance we do not get with other types of suffering. I highly recommend reading the whole book, it is truly life changing, but if not, then at least take away this crucial lesson, that nothing other people do is because of you. Don't take anything personally. And when you can ignore the words and actions of others, you will not be the victim of pointless suffering.