In Don Miguel Ruiz's book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, the second agreement is "don't take anything personally". He explains the idea in this 4 minute video, which I encourage you to watch. He implies, in the book and also in this video, that when we take things personally, our egos make things that are actually outside of us suddenly all about us.
I had an experience this week, a very negative one, with someone who seemed to go out of their way to make me feel uncomfortable and unappreciated professionally. To make matters stickier, this person did not even come to me themselves, but used an intermediary to convey messages.
And I did take it personally. I was in the situation not only out of habit, but also because I believed I was helping other people out. Someone had bailed on a commitment, so I stepped in.
I didn't want to, honestly. I had other plans. And to be honest, I did not really need the income this situation generated. While extra money is always nice, this certainly wasn't going to make or break my summer holiday. In addition, this represented an area of my life I'm in the process of reinventing and moving away from.
But I did it anyway, because years ago, I did need the extra income. I depended on it, actually. And I'm grateful it was there for me and helped me get through some lean times. However, I said yes when I should have, and could have, said no...and the result was a passel of drama that greatly affected my ability to enjoy myself and how I was spending much of my time for an entire week.
I don't know why some people behave in the manner that they do, and I don't need to know why. I'm not the 'Walking Wounded Whisperer," and it's not up to me to fix situations to please others if I don't need to be there in the first place. When I was confronted by the negativity, I immediately offered to step down from the position. Of course, this would have put others in an extreme bind. They didn't want that. An uneasy truce thus was formed.
In hindsight, however, stepping down IS what I should have done. And part of me regrets not doing it, but a lot of others would have been let down if I had. Because of this, I chose to see it through, but I did not feel good/happy/at peace about it at all...
...because I took it VERY PERSONALLY. Even though I've read Ruiz's writings and agree with his ideas, it was just so hard not to feel that the bitterness/hostility was directed towards me on a personal level. That I wasn't liked, valued, or appreciated professionally. By the end of the week, I was so eager to wrap things up and get out of the situation that I had bitten my nails to the quick, ugh, a nasty habit that I resort to when I feel stressed, tense, on edge from trying really, really, really hard to 'live my yoga' verses expressing myself verbally.
The lesson here? The amount of pay I will receive from my participation in this situation will not be worth the frustration and negativity I endured for it, and I could have avoided it all by honoring what I really wanted to do in the first place - say NO. Did I want to say no because I am rolling in money and don't need any more? Of course not. Life is fluid and we always need various amounts of income to get through the unexpected.
I've just learned a few things over the years:
I've learned to live simply while living as though money were no object. It sounds like a phrase in opposition to itself, but if you think about it, it makes sense!
I've learned to value experiences over possessions.
I can splurge and am known to do so from time to time, but I've learned to be frugal in many other ways (like making my own natural laundry detergent rather than buying expensive, chemical-laden commercial brands), which is a result of embracing a simple, minimalist lifestyle.
I've paid off debts and learned how to make saving money, or just not spending it, a priority.
And while in the past, I sought out certain situations because I needed additional income, I learned this week that there is often an expiration date on situations that worked for you in the past.
Just like relationships that simply grow tiresome because we grow and another person doesn't, other situations in life can 'expire' on us. When this happens, it's best to step aside and give an opportunity to someone else. This will in turn open new opportunities to us. Clinging to the old mindsets, such as "I need this extra income," stagnates us a little. I think it's hard to invite into life new experiences if I do the same old things the same old way.
Sometimes saying "No" is best.
Giving an opportunity you've been blessed to enjoy the benefits of for years to another is a way of moving forward.
Unless you are actually in poverty, shake the mindset that you have no or little money. Our mindsets create our realities.
That little feeling inside something isn't really right? That's intuition. Honor it, no matter what's at stake.
Don't take anything personally. It's usually about the other person and their need to lash out, not about you.
Accept when something's time has come, and move on from it.