Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Therapy Thursday: Don’t Take It Personally

pocket therapist front cover small.jpgI have decided to dedicate a post on Thursday to therapy, and offer you the many tips I have learned on the couch. They will be a good reminder for me, as well, of something small I can concentrate on. Many of them are published in my book, “The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit.

Just as crucial as don Miguel Ruiz’s third agreement (Don’t Make Assumptions) is his second: “Don’t take anything personally.”


The first time I read it, I laughed out loud.

“Dude,” I said to his mug shot in the back cover, “why don’t you just tell me to go on a vegetable diet for the rest of my life?”

But I do think if you can pull this one off, you spare yourself a lot of suffering, not to mention free up oodles of brain capacity.

I like to think of my emotions as the opposite of a tax return: the less I claim, the better off I am. So when I think that a friend of mine is upset with me by the way she is acting–not returning my phone calls, blowing me off at school pick up or soccer practice, giving me the bird–but she hasn’t said anything to me, I don’t need to worry about it.

Not until she spills her can of whoop ass all over me, do I have to worry my neurotic little head about what’s going in her limbic system.


And guess what? Even then, I still don’t have to claim it.

That’s entirely up to me!

Ruiz writes: “Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements in their own minds.”

So when I get a really harsh email or 50 that say something like, “Your blog is stupid. You’re annoying. Your videos suck,” I read Ruiz’s chapter on the second agreement, and say to myself “Your blog may be stupid, you may be annoying, and your videos may very well suck, but you got the final say on that. Not them.”

Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Pam

    Thanks for this reminder and the nudge to go re-read The Agreements…. Love the way you put this and will be buying your book as well.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nicole

    I needed to be reminded of this – thank you.

    In Al-Anon they have a great saying, “What you think of me is none of my business.”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kendra

    I just found your blog the other day (a link from the Huffington Post) and your writing captures my experience of depression and anxiety better than anything I have ever read. I passed the link on to my therapist and acupuncturist so that they could share it with other clients. I deeply appreciate your work.

    This post was a great reminder and very timely for me. Thank you!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment sheryl

    This post was perfect timing for me. I found out about you by accident the other day while I was waiting for my therapist.I was listeng to the catholic channel on xm radio and even got to talk to you for a minute about your book. I spent all night looking on your website and found much relief from listeng to your videos. Thank you for doing what you do for so many people and I thank God that he somehow helped me find you. Just as you said you recieved a sign(a medal of St.Therese)when you were in your darkest hour-I feel the same about finding your website!Thank you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Wildstar

    I took an overnight trip with my granddaughter to a higher elevation so I could get out of the blazing heat of Gilbert, AZ for 24 hours and go up to the mountains and pine forest to find tranquility. What I needed was some catch phrase I could tell myself when someone is about to dump their drama, their negativity or whatever on me. I could not find the phrase but on the way back home I found a picture. An old fashioned radio that they had in the 1940’s with knobs for dials. When confronted with the latest onslaught, all I have to do is turn the dial until I hear static or white noise so whatever they are saying is tuned out. And their words, their negative energy, rant or drama can just fade away. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. But I love your column and this recent one about the Four Agreements. Whatever they have to say does not define you. It’s just the racket in their head spewing out. Tune it out.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kevin

    Great post and reminder. Knowing you called him “Dude” is a great prognostic indicator. For real……and you are too funny. Thanks.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Marc

    Great post, Therese. When these kinds of challenges come up at work, they tend to be among the “usual suspects” and sometimes I borrow a line from someone I never voted for–Ronald Reagan: “There you go again,” (For the younger among us, he said this to Carter at a famous point in their 1980 debate). Of course, there are the times when I have actually been a jerk, but I am pretty good at recognizing those and apologizing. For some of us, rerecognizing when you don’t need to apologize is harder.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment mel

    I do not like Fathers Day I was Molested for 13 years by him and would like to sleep thru the entire day!!!! Thank’s for letting me vent!!!

  • Cindy Bailey

    In my humble opinion, if anyone says your blog is stupid, they need to shut up and stop reading it.
    The tools and laughter and insight your blog has given me are invaluable. I look forward to it every single day.
    They may not pertain to my life and situation each day, but at least I can acknowledge that just because it is not for me it is for someone, right?
    I will keep this second agreement close to my heart.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Bea

    I am intrigued by today’s post. What happens when the tables are turned? I approached an estranged relative a few years back and asked her why I am always as source of ridicule for her? (I come from a long line of ball busters.) Basically she blamed it all on me rather than being curious about why I might have felt this way. I am estranged from my side of the family because there are two bullies and the rest are bystanders. I get so physically ill around these people that I’ve cut myself loose. I would like to reconcile, but nothing changes. I am the villain for choosing not to put up with it anymore.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cheryl

    Your blogs and videos are far from stupid – they are a lifeline for those of us who desperately need a kindred spirit. I have bought your books, and spent one afternoon reading the pocket therapist while crying. I also really appreciate the books you recommend – I am now addicted to Richard Rohr and have been reading every book I can get my hands on.

    Thank you for doing what you do – I wish I would have thought of it first.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cheryl

    I love the way you put this. My tendency is to always take things personally, but who knows what is going on in another’s life and why they act the way they do. Now I will remember your “whoop ass” comment and just laugh. Keep up your good work!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Liti

    great article,it could not have come at a better time.This time I was the who should not be taken personally!I pray to God that I learn my lesson


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment spareparts

    Oh my God, Therese!

    The other day I was listening to 1/2 of a phone conversation, and ASSUMING they were talking about ME… Finally the lady on the other end says, “Tell her that the world does NOT revolve around her!”

    “But of COURSE it does!”, I reply…

    They were talking about somebody else, and she was totally right… (about the revolving thing…)

    Taking things personally is almost second nature for me… I need to work on this.

    Thanks for GREAT post!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment rituly

    We were so financially strapped when I found Dr.Zack balo I couldn’t even afford a money spell. You were my last hope to help us get out of debt and finally have the financial freedom we kept striving for. You sensed my desperation and allowed me to make payments on my money spells. I cannot say enough good things about you and your circle. did so much to help me and my family. We no longer wonder if we can make the mortgage this month and in fact recently purchased a larger house and no longer have to worry about answering the phone for fear of creditors.

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