Everything is Personal

There’s a lot of talk out there about how taking the things of life personally is a bad idea.

And it is.

But we do take things personally, because we are people… and simply deciding to stop taking things personally isn’t going to work.

Let me explain…

You’re a person. I’m a person. Anyone who’s reading this is a person (or perhaps an exceptionally smart dog). 😉

We’re persons, so we have personal relationships. That’s the kind of relationship persons have.

We’re not robots, having robotic relationships. If we were, perhaps we’d be able to just flip a switch and not take things personally any more.

But, like I said, we are persons.

And as a person, not only do you make it personal when things happen to you — you do it in an instant, far too quickly to stop before it happens.

So the question is NOT “how do I stop taking things personally?”

The question is, “How do I handle it when taking things personally is messing up my life?”

This is important, and goes a lot deeper than it looks on the surface. In fact, I’d say that this propensity to take things personally, and not knowing you are doing it, touches every area of your life.

In this post I’m going to share with you what you can do about taking things personally in your life. Plus — as Morpheus said to Neo in “The Matrix” — we’ll see how deep this rabbit hole really goes.

Why did that driver cut you off?

We’ve all had it happen. You’re in traffic, driving along, minding your own business, and somebody comes screaming down the road and cuts you off.

That’s a perfect example of something that would be great to not take personally. But sometimes you do. And when you do take it personally, it’s too late to stop it from happening — you have to deal with the personal relationship that you created.

That’s right… When you took it personally, you created a personal relationship with that driver.

How do I know? Well, if I were to ask you about that person who cut you off — and if you were to answer me without editing yourself — you would know all about him. You might say “That dude is a jerk! He thinks he owns the road! And he thinks it’s okay to just cut me off in traffic! And did you see how he was tailgating me earlier? That guy is out to get me!

Our knee-jerk life-response is to create a personal relationship — with someone we’ve never seen, and don’t know — and to believe we already know everything about him.

And yeah, we generally don’t say, “Wow, that guy must be having a bad day!” We make a story that they are a bad person, and develop a relationship with the “bad person” in that story.

You won’t be surprised to hear me say that taking things personally like that is not a great way to live. It makes you tense and jumpy. It builds a backlog of anger inside of you that you end up dumping on some other innocent person. It makes you feel like you are the victim of life. It sucks.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to end there.

The heart knows truth from falsehood

It is said that “the heart knows truth from falsehood.” That means that the human heart responds well to things that true, authentic, and wholesome, and responds poorly to things that are false, incongruent, and unwholesome.

We see this in healing work all the time: When a person has an authentic emotional transformation, everyone present feels it in their hearts. When that person speaks, people feel their hearts touched by the truth of their words. It feels good to be around.

By the same token, if a person says they’ve had an emotional transformation, but haven’t, people there feel that in their hearts, too. Something doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel complete. The falsehood is apparent to the human heart, and we feel it.

And the heart is like a mirror

Of course, the truth of the heart is not always easy to read. The poet Rumi talks about how the heart is like a mirror for the truth, but the mess of our lives gets all over it, and can make that truth-light hard to see. He says, “Set about polishing your mirror!,” and I think that’s good advice.

One way to polish the mirror of your heart is to start feeling into your heart to perceive the truth in it. To turn to your heart in open questioning, in the expectation of being shown something beautiful.

In the situation with the driver who cut you off, you can ask yourself, “When I feel into my heart, is it really true that that driver is just a bad person who is out to get me?”

When you ask your heart the truth about that other driver, and really listen for the answer, it changes the personal relationship you are having with that driver.

  • You start to open to a flow of something new, generally love and compassion.
  • Instead of having all the answers, you start sincerely questioning.
  • You start to listen inside for something good, where before you mostly had a lot to say about something bad.
  • Your heart starts to feel the goodness that you weren’t feeling before.

By simply asking your heart, “is it really true that driver is a bad person who is out to get me?,” that relationship starts to change — and you start to change with it.

So let’s look deeper down this “rabbit hole.”

These automatic “taking-it-personally” relationships don’t only happen with other people.

They also happen with life itself.

And when that happens, it doesn’t just impact your morning commute, or what it’s like to be in traffic.

Your “automatically personal” relationship with life controls everything.

Why didn’t life give you what you want, when you wanted it?

So here’s the question:

When it feels like life is “cutting you off in traffic,” what personal relationship do you form with it?

You can answer this by asking yourself, “What types of things do I say when life doesn’t go my way?”

For instance, a lot of people say things like this:

  • “It’s just my luck.”
  • “Of COURE that happened to me.”
  • “This ALWAYS happens to me.”
  • “It’s Murphy’s Law!”
  • “Life isn’t fair.”
  • “I might have known.”

Many people develop an attitude of “it’s just my luck” or “of course that would happen to me.” It’s important to look at that. It’s not just a cute pessimism or an ironic world-weary attitude.

When you take life personally — which we all do, because we are people — you make the force behind your life into a “person” that you have a relationship with… just like you had a relationship with the guy who cut you off in traffic.

So…

Just as the way you take the guy cutting you off in traffic defines your relationship with him…

The way you take life personally defines your relationship with the force behind your life… That is, it defines your relationship with your Divine.

It defines the Divine

When you’ve made it personal that life doesn’t give you what you want, it defines your Divine as one that holds back on you, trips you up, and is out to get you.

In short, you are believing in a certain kind of a higher power that made you to experience that bad luck. You’ve defined a Divine who is against you in some way.

It’s worth taking a moment to really look at the results of doing that.

How good are you at really bringing your best self to your life when you are believing in a Divinity that has set up the world to work against you, for you to have bad luck, and to naturally be on the losing end of “life isn’t fair”?

You’ll probably agree that, when you are feeling like that, you are not going to bring your best self to your life. In fact, you’re probably going to bring your resigned, dejected, unenthusiastic, cynical, resentful, already-defeated self to life. And that’s not good.

Feeling the truth in your heart

Fortunately, the heart knows truth from falsehood.

Just like you asked your heart “Is it true that the guy who cut me off in traffic is just a jerk who’s out to get me?,” you can ask your heart if the Divine is personally out to get you, too.

You can ask, “When I feel into this in my heart, is that really the way the Divine — the Highest, most Merciful reality — is?”

When you ask your heart the truth about the Divine, and really listen for the answer, it changes the personal relationship you are having with the Divine.

  • You start to open to a flow of something new, generally love and compassion.
  • Instead of having all the answers, you start sincerely questioning.
  • You start to listen inside for something good, where before you mostly had a lot to say about something bad.
  • Your heart starts to feel the goodness that you weren’t feeling before.

By simply asking your heart, “is it really true that the Divine is cursing me and out to get me?,” that relationship starts to change.

How have you taken life personally?

It’s worth asking yourself these questions:

  • How have I taken life personally?
  • Do I hear myself saying things like “it’s just my luck”?
  • If so, what kind of a “person” am I relating to as the architect of that bad luck?
  • How has my taking it personally defined my Divine?”

Then you can remember that the heart knows truth from falsehood, and ask your heart,

  • Is it true that the Divine is really out to get me, or trip me up?

When you let yourself feel into the answer to that, your relationship with your Divine will change, open and grow… and your entire life can change with it.

About Dmitri

Comments

  1. Dmitri, what a great combination of words and images. Quite, quite wonderful!
    Peace
    Judy

  2. Ok, I took this one very personally! In a good way, I mean. I read your posts time to time, but this one really hit home on a multitude of levels. In fact, I found it inspiring, gifted, and expressed in an artful manner. I counsel men who have anger issues. I have approached this from a variety of perspectives, even using the MKP Data, Judgment, Feeling approach with some success. But the concept of relationships formed with others, ourselves, and life as a fractal of our relationship with the devine turns a cosmic light on the idea of living a more conscious life. Great work!

  3. Jessie Rodriguez says:

    Thank you so much for the everythings personal work piece!
    I found this sort of work so rewarding and very, very real to me.
    There are alot of truths so long as Iam open to feel them. The Bible says “the heart is treacherous, who can know it…it also states “God is examining the hearts of men”…
    I am only quoting what I read, so I am not accused of posting religious content here.
    Thank You agian, Many Blessings
    Jessie

  4. I have read several of your pieces and was about to round file this one and get to some work this evening. But you swerved in front of my mouse with your car. I discovered that the way the world and the Divine show up for me is as powerful and not to be trusted, so I must constantly fight my way through. When I can’t find some person or organization to fight I create one. Today your piece helped my see that the struggle is what I have used to define myself forever. I didn’t know until now why I was so shaken by the movies “The Fighter” and “Facing Ali”. Like so many professional fighters, I haven’t known what to do when there is no fight. Thank-you. Now I can call my attorney about the current “fight” with the big mean Corporation who stands over my and I can bring a new spiritual understanding to the solution.

  5. I was am sitting at the office, still with some feeling of anger but a smile accross my face. This piece spoke to me in a wonderfull way. Thank you.

  6. Dmitri, thank you for cutting in front of me this morning by sharing this insight. It usually takes only a very slight shift in an angle on taking an approach to something that changes my entire perspective. Your suggestion to make a shift in the question from ‘how do I stop taking things personally’ to ‘how do I handle it when taking things personally is messing up my life?’ is so appropriate to what I am experiencing daily, not only in traffic but in life in general. Today, several people cut me off on the highway and I reacted with my heart racing and cusses flying. This piece made me take a closer look at how I react in traffic, lately angrily, at what I perceive as a idiotic or unconscious move, and forces on me the question, “how is my reaction like my life?” I am feeling a sense of peace from a new awareness that you have helped bring into my life, to the extent that I look forward to the next person who jolts in front of me! And more importantly what insight I can take away from my reaction. Thanks for that!

  7. Thanks for all the great comments everybody!

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