A "less personal" life...
It took me a while to understand the true scope of the philosophical suggestion "do not take everything personally", but the fruitful readings of this past summer have really helped me to put things into a perspective where I understand and I feel able to begin to practice this with discipline.
It seems a contradiction, even incongruous: "how can I not take things personally if certain judgments or attitudes are addressed to me? How can I not get angry, not react if people attack me?” But you can’t understand this until you grasp a profound truth. What others see in you is not you; it is a projection of what their mental filters produce in them in relation to the “you" topic. Everyone has a picture of you in their mind that is completely influenced by their perception of you. And their perception of you is influenced by their personal history. Each person projects a piece of him or herself onto others. What each of us expresses are just ideas, opinions that you can buy into or not. And with respect to these, you are absolutely free to not react.
In our daily lives we spend a lot of precious resources retaliating, getting involved, getting sucked into the opinions and judgments of others, giving them a value they do not possess. There is no truth in celebrating or crucifying you, just as there is no truth in your judgment of others. This is a lot of noise for nothing. A lot of noise that distracts you, tires you and takes away the wonderful things that, instead, you could do for yourself.
Please try the following experiment. Stop getting involved in everything and see how much time you can save in your day. No more opinions on everything, no more gossip or acid comments that trigger retaliation... No more need to have the last word in discussions that last hours... No more resentment about something that you have heard or that has been reported to you... Not because you have become a zen master or because you feel superior, but simply because you have understood the profound uselessness of this. You have better things to do.
You have a life to live, remember? And isn’t it true that time is the thing you miss the most? If you become "less personal" in your daily interactions, I guarantee you that it will be like adding precious life hours to your day to engage yourself in what makes you feel great. Side effect: you will be much more at peace and satisfied.
And this is just the beginning. When you start to explore this concept you fall through Alice’s looking glass and the next step is "becoming impersonal”. This is an incredible evolutionary key. It's a crazy passage that makes you climb to the top of the skyscraper and when you look down, nothing looks the way you saw it before. But this is another story.
(photo by Lo Ken for Unsplash)