When I was a kid, I got teased. Mostly for how many freckles I had, how I wore zero name brand things, and my weight (I was chubby). At the time getting people to like me or to be happy was my full time job. You can likely understand how doing that job well was connected to my own happiness. By my freshman year in high-school, I was an accomplished people pleaser. The teasing had stopped. I didn’t relate to myself as a people pleaser though. It felt very normal that being a nice person was synonymous with being a good person.
My formidable skill as a people pleaser was mostly hidden from my view until I learned about the Four Agreements. If you haven’t read The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, I highly recommend it. Each agreement to me is a spiritual principle. The agreement that really baffled me was the second one. “Don’t take anything personally.” It made ZERO SENSE. What?!? It took a very patient person to explain it to me. If someone likes or hates me isn’t that entirely related to who I am. If someone is in a bad mood because I was nice to them, isn’t it my job to turn that shit around.
But the damage was done. I now couldn’t do what I had always done unconsciously anymore. Each time I was being nice aka being a people pleaser I couldn’t not see it. It wasn’t until reading the book that I realized how much time and energy I spent regularly figuring out how to be nice even when it made no sense. How often I took things personally. Like all the dayum time. Acknowledging how much it bothered me when I was disliked or if others were upset with me was not easy.
As you could imagine, it took some serious reprogramming of my thought process to change years and years and years of habits, beliefs, emotional reactions, triggers. However, it did change my fundamental view. I poked holes in that truth. I recognized all the times that I was being “nice” but letting myself be taken advantage of. I recognized all the times when others’ bad moods or anger at me had nothing to do with me at all. Sometimes they had had a bad day and other times they just didn’t like me no matter what I did. It also went the other way too. Some people liked me just because they did. It wasn’t anything I said or did.
When my heart, mind, and spirit recognized that how people felt about me had nothing to do with me, it created a sense of wonder. A feeling of peace. A feeling of freedom. Then someone would get angry with me about something. The pattern of apologizing or shifting myself would start again. The truth of the agreement from the book rang in my heart. So I would catch it sooner and stop the behavior faster.
Why am I sharing this right at this moment? Two reasons. First I hope that by sharing my experience that you might be curious about what you can unlearn. Second, applying spiritual principles to daily life takes support and practice. The insight you receive in a moment of awakening can take time to unpack in your daily life. It is possible and totally worth the work.
I know that recognizing that how people felt about me had nothing to do with me was an absolute game changer. It also helped me learn that people liking or disliking me had nothing to do with me. These spiritual truths are likely contrary to what you were taught or have repeated over and over again. However, It is never too late to release all that shit and free yourself up.
People will love you.
People will hate you.
And none of it will have anything to do with you.
The first step to practically applying spiritual principles is to Get curious about how you desire to grow. NOT about what is wrong with you or your life. Just what could be possible. From that inquiry, your inner wisdom can help you dig in. You will find your limiting beliefs and hopefully with support learn new tools from coaches, teachers, classes or books so you can unlearn the lies you were told or tell yourself. It is never too late to create a life you love.
I send you a big wave of love.