I only write what I don’t care if the world reads. It’s sort of similar to a captain entering information in the captain’s log. Alas, I don’t have great sea battles and sunken treasure to write about, but an occasional anecdote does get entered if I’m feeling up to it. Check it out! Or don’t. I’m easy like that.

Latest Entry: Thursday, February 16, 2017

Never take anything personally.

I read that little proverb about a week ago. It was on some website about … actually, I’m not sure now, but it stuck with me. So simple, but such depth to it. Never. Take. Anything. Personally.

I think it’s a Buddhist proverb or such, though it could be from many origins. The concept isn’t relegated to any one group or place; however, the application and benefit may be universal.

Never take anything personally.

Like most sage bon mots of wisdom, it’s often easier said than done. Someone cuts you off at an intersection and you’re more likely to think of a few other choice phrases first. It helps to perhaps explore and understand why one’s negative actions are even enacted to begin with. A red light runner may in fact be someone trying to get home in a hurry to turn off the oven. Probably not. Yeah, most likely not. Moreover, it’s a selfish person choosing to put his own desires over the welfare of others. Understood. Yet, the offender probably didn’t know you personally. Why assume that it was a personal affront?

It can be closer to home. Say you invite someone to a party and that person does not show up. Well, isn’t that personal? It might not be. In “Atlas Shrugged,” Reardon misses a dinner party and his wife and mother are quite perturbed. The mother exclaims that either A) he didn’t value their time enough to warrant attending the event, or B) he didn’t believe his presence was worthy of attending. There’s a vast difference in both. We assume the former far too often, when it could easily be the latter. A person may simply be thinking, “Oh, you don’t really want me there,” and decide to flake, oblivious to the fact that he or she was desired at the event after all.

That being said, it could actually be that other way. A person may just say, “Sorry, June. Your event isn’t worthy of my time.” Ouch, but okay. And really, just how is that not personal?

Well, it is. But the proverb still works. Just because someone intends something to be personal does not mean we have to “take it personally.” Affront all you like. One can’t be forced to take it personally even if it’s intended as such. We have the final call there. If it’s not accepted that way, it’s effectively negated. And again, understanding is key.

Offensive actions come from those with their own shortcomings. Rudeness, meanness, spite..and the list goes on—those behaviors usually stem from personal issues or problems that need addressing—and quite frankly may just never be addressed and cured. This isn’t to say one’s bad actions or attitude should always be excused, but rather the root understanding of them may help one to know that if it comes from a stranger, it’s most certainly something other than personal. And if you didn’t raise the person, you certainly have nothing to do with his or her deficits. Heck, even if you did, you likely did your best. Hard to fault that.

At any rate, this maxim may be worth a try if others are trying your patience on a regular basis. Give it a shot. Or don’t. Either way…

I won’t take it personally.

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