Guest Post by Natalie Vartanian: Do you want to know the quickest way to have a more loving, healthy, mature, respectful relationship? Remember (and repeat) the following statement: “It is not about me!” In other words don’t take things personally.
Once you get this one small but powerful realization you can apply it to any challenging or stressful situation and you will be a much calmer, happier individual in general.
The first time I ever really grasped this concept fully was when I read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book called ‘The Four Agreements.’ This was in my early twenties. Before that I was super sensitive and would easily get triggered by things people said or did around me. One of the four agreements he claims will help you achieve ‘personal freedom, love, happiness and peace’ is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” And he means ANYTHING. It sounds radical I know. Also sounds easier said than done. And it is. However this one shift in perspective changed my life, and as a result the way I started showing up in relationships.
To put this into context, imagine the following scenario: You have been seeing someone for a couple of weeks and there has been major flirting and sexual chemistry. The day finally comes where you are going to have sex with them for the first time and he can’t ‘keep it up’ or she is super dry. Since many of us have experienced this in some fashion or another, it is very easy to assume that his lack of firmness (or her lack of wetness) is an indication of their level of attraction to you. However, it could be a number of reasons to cause that situation. It may be that he drank too much, he could be tired or stressed out (most likely reason), is used to masturbating often or already went past his masturbating quota for the day, etc. In terms of a woman, she may be worried about how she looks physically, is unsure of your feelings for her, is stressed, has had a string of negative sexual experiences before meeting you.
Another scenario: You have been really looking forward to going on a date with someone who you feel is a ‘keeper’. The day of your date, they send you a message in the morning and apologize profusely but have to cancel because they didn’t make their deadline at work and need to stay late to finish the project. Here again there is so much room for assumptions to be made and things to be taken personally. Where most people (especially women) will go in this situation is believing that the person does not care enough about them to figure out a way to have kept their date. They will jump right to ‘taking it personal’ first instead of considering and embracing that this was a genuine situation where the person could not make it. They should try putting themselves in the person’s shoes for one minute. They probably feel just as bad not being able to keep their commitment and be their word. They most likely would rather be laughing and talking with you over dinner and drinks than having to put in work late night at the office.
Even if you are experiencing the 1% of the time where it actually may be about you, it is still an assumption unless you get that information straight from the horse’s mouth. If you are going to assume, why not assume that it has nothing to do with you! Taking this approach will actually smooth a lot of choppy waters … both internally and with others. Take time to communicate any concerns and give the other person an opportunity to explain what their actions are really about. It’s better to take a positive approach to gain clarity vs. an unnecessary negative reaction when it wasn’t even about you to begin with.