The best-selling book, The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz is an insightful little book with a message that is simple and yet profound. The author invites the reader to adopt a code of conduct that includes four agreements - "Be impeccable With Your Word, "Don't Take Anything Personally, Never Assume Anything, and AlwaysDo Your Best"

This article is about the second agreement "Don't takeAnything Personally".

Great advice, isn't it? The problem is, most of us take criticism or rejection very personally. When someone says to us "Youare …(fill in the blank), we may take it as the truth. Actuallytheir comment is about them and their perception of you andhas nothing to do with who or what you really are.

The following are some thoughts to keep in mind the next time you receive harsh comments:

1. It's not about you. When people make insulting or viciousremarks to you, it's a reflection of what's going on insideof them. You are simply the target at the moment. Harsh criticism is usually brought on by one or more of the following:

a) Ego. Some people will criticize you to boost their ownego. They pull you down a few pegs so that they'll feelsuperior to you.

b) Impatience. Impatient people are also likely to makeinsulting remarks that are out of proportion to thesituation. For instance, if an impatient person feels youshould complete a task in 5 seconds - and you take 10 -you'll hear something like, "Are you a moron?" Clearly, thishas nothing to do with you.

c) Childhood Influences. Many people who criticize youwithout regard to your feelings grew up in an environmentwhere they were criticized harshly. They are simply repeating the pattern.

Accept the fact that people from all of these categorieswill cross your path at times.

2. Learn from it. In most cases, you can learn fromcriticism and rejection. Although the comments may be harshor exaggerated, there may be some truth to be found.

For example, if you receive negative comments on a Performance Review at work, see it as an opportunity forimprovement.. Consider the comments objectively and look for the lessons. Take the necessary actions to improve your job performance. If you truly believe you are doing your best, these actions could include looking for a job that better suits your talents.

3. Laugh about it. After you get over the initial shock of acritical remark, allow yourself to have a good laugh! Itreduces the tension and puts things back in perspective.

We did Patient Satisfaction Questionnaires in my former Healthcare company. One question asked about the reading material in the waiting room. The funniest responses were the ones that rated the selection as poor and then stated in the very next answer that the person had waited 0 (zero) minutes in the waiting room.

4. Don't let anyone stop you from pursuing what you want toachieve. Life will test you to see how serious you are about pursuing a particular path. Sooner or later, you'll face negative feedback. When you do, remember not to let anyone crush your dream.

If you are doing what you want to do (and aren't hurtinganyone else), the only question to ask yourself is: Am I doing the best I could in this situation? You can't ask yourself to do more than your best.

5. Give what you want to receive. If you want others to beless critical of you, then you must be considerate of the feelings of others. We all have to provide feedback and criticism at times and probably overdo it sometimes.We say things that we wouldn't want others to say to us. We get impatient and forget that it took us time to learn the very things we're expecting others to perform perfectly right away.

Don Miguel Ruiz gave some great advice when he said that weshouldn't take anything personally. Yet, it is a very difficult concept to put into practice. My hope is that by remembering the above thoughts, you can greatly reduce the amount of time and energy you spend taking things personally.

Author's Bio: 

Jean has been a state licensed professional, helping clients to achieve their goals for 20 years. She has built several successful businesses individually and with partners. She is the founder of JustRight Coaching, LLC and coaches entrepreneurs, Couplepreneurs and Independent practitioners to build the businesses that really work for their lives.