As you read the title about this message, did you find yourself saying ‘Okay, but grief is different. Grief is intensely personal!‘
I get it. Really I do. At the same time, holding on to this Agreement has allowed me to hold on to more peace and sanity than I would if have if it weren’t something I learned long ago.
You’ve heard me say it, or you’ve read my words, this stuff of grieving is less than graceful. In fact, I personally find that grieving and healing is incredibly messy stuff. I have made some incredible blunders along the way and so have those who have supported me. Usually with the best of intentions. Even so, we’re all human, and that means that from time to time we will make mistakes.
Years ago, my first Reiki teacher, Deb Karpek told me about a small book, ‘The Four Agreements’ by don Miguel Ruiz. This book is one of the most important and meaningful that I have ever read. The Agreements are deceptively simple, but that doesn’t mean that they are easy. Still, understanding them and being open to being guided by these Agreements has helped me tremendously.
The 2nd of the Agreements is ‘Don’t take anything personally.’ Yep, that sounds reasonable on the surface, but I needed to understand it better to make it a part of my being.
Here’s the scoop, and as I said, it sounds simple enough. Anything that I say, is about me – not you. If I am nasty, it’s got nothing to do with you! It’s about the way I feel. Think of that silly rhyme we sang as children, something along the lines of ‘I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.’ As it should because it’s all about the person who is being nasty anyway. As much as possible, imagine yourself ducking and weaving, let it go right past you. Because it is not about you. It’s not yours to receive or hold on to. Let it go, let it go, let it go.
At the same time, if I am kind, that too has nothing to do with you. It is the feeling that I need to express. If you choose to accept that kindness, it’s a win for both of us.
Remember you have the choice to accept or let anything go on by.
As I said, the business of grieving and supporting someone we love through grief is complicated and often messy. We may lose our tempers. They may phrase something in a way that is hurtful. Deep breaths are helpful here. Ignore the words if you can and do your best to become aware of the intention behind the words. If it is not kind, go ahead and let it go, don’t take it personally. You may choose to walk away. If the intention feels loving and supportive, you have the opportunity to accept to the degree it feels right for you.
Mistakes will be made. Even after almost 9 years, I’m still astonished at some of the bone-headed remarks that have been made to me. But here’s the thing, most of them were intended to offer comfort and ease, to convey compassion and support. These people simply didn’t know how to articulate what their hearts wanted to convey. And so, I didn’t take it personally. It was and continues to be, tremendously helpful.
Here is a link to that incredible little book. I suggest buying at least 2 copies. One to keep and one to share. It’s that life-changing.
The Four Agreements