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 leads to a fulfilling life.
It includes these four agreements – “Be impeccable With Your
Word, "Don't Take Anything Personally, Never Assume Anything,
and Always Do Your Best"

This article is about the second agreement “Don’t take
Anything Personally”.

Great advice, isn't it? The problem is, most of us take criticism
or rejection very personally. When people say to us “You
are …(fill in the blank), we may take it as the truth. Actually
their comments are about them and their perception of you and
have 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 vicious
remarks to you, it's a reflection of what's going on inside
of 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 own
ego. They pull you down a few pegs so that they'll feel
superior to you.

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

c) Childhood Influences. Many people who criticize you
without regard to your feelings grew up in an environment
where they were criticized harshly. They are simply repeating
the pattern.

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

2. Learn from it. In most cases, you can learn from
criticism and rejection. Although the comments may be harsh
or 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 for
improvement.. 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 a
critical remark, allow yourself to have a good laugh! It
reduces 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 those that rated the selection as poor and then
in the very next answer noted that the patient had waited
0 (zero) minutes in the waiting room.

4. Don't let anyone stop you from pursuing what you want to
achieve. 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 hurting
anyone 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 be
less 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 we
shouldn'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 feeling bad about how other people treat you.

Author's Bio: 

Jean R Charles is a business and relationship coach, entrepreneur, and author of Couplepreneurs: Prosperity Through Partnership. She has built several successful businesses individually and with partners and now coaches entrepreneurs and Couplepreneurs to build profitable businesses and prosperous lives. For a free excerpt of her book visit or email