Coming to the place of knowing it is not about me has been a journey. I have had to work at knowing how to not take things personally. I can remember a time when I took everything personally, and that was definitely about me. Whether someone said something positive or negative would have an impact on how I saw myself or how I felt. I was allowing others to control my sense of self, rather then owning my own life and the direction and experience of it myself.
One of the hardest lessons I had to learn is that other people’s thoughts, words and behaviors are about them. They have nothing to do with me. Whatever people say about me is about them, not me. I think it was teaching which helped me to really learn this lesson. I noticed that student’s comments about me on this one website fell into one of two arenas. Some thought I was the most amazing professor in the world and others thought I was the worst professor in the world and should be fired immediately. These were students who had taken the same courses at the same time and been in the same room with me but walked away with completely divergent perspectives. What they wrote about me was simply a projection of their image of me. It had nothing to do with me. Whatever shaped their projection of me was also about them and had nothing to do with me.
When I learned to not take students comments personally, I was then able to apply it to other areas of my life. Getting to that space, however, was a journey and one that has taken me more then a few years to master. Sometimes I have to catch myself and say why are you taking this personally. Why are you making this about you? Usually it is because at some level I agree with what they are saying. I have had to learn to not take anything personally, whether it is positive or negative. I cannot choose when I take things personally and when I do not. So I have had to learn how to change a lot of the agreements I had unconsciously made. How did I learn how to do this? Practice. Practice. Practice.
Sometimes I have been my own worst enemy and am the one who says things negative, or at least has thought them about myself. It is then, especially then, that I also be the one who loves me enough to stop the self-negating thoughts and feelings. Every time I am mindful of saying something non-loving of myself. I have to replace it with something positive, usually by reversing the message and reminding myself that I have everything I need to accomplish what I was created to do and be in this world, which is to be love, share love, and live love.
What I have come to realize is that the more I empty myself of my attachments to other people’s perceptions, images, and expectations and of my own, the more space there is in my life for light, happiness, goodness, joy, peace, and love. As a Buddhist monk once said “empty empty, happy happy.” I have come to experience a light and peace as I have learned how to not take things personally. But that is about me, it is only about you if you make this about you.