The Case Against “Don’t Take It Personally.”

Andrea Toole
7 min readOct 28, 2021
Photo by Taylor Deas-Melesh on Unsplash

How do you feel when you hear, “Don’t take it personally”?

What do you think that statement means?

I detest the phrase and sometimes find it offensive. I recently realized the reason for my aversion. It comes down to the statement to not take it personally, as it comes out of someone else’s mouth.

As is my communication style, the following is honest with a smattering of humour.

The Second Agreement

In the book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz, the second agreement is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” And in his context, I’m okay with it.

Ruiz said,

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.

I agree with that 100%. Well, maybe 99%. I agree completely with the projection part, but not with the “nothing” part.

When someone gives us feedback about our behaviour or us as people, we need to remember that no opinions are truly objective; we all have our biases, our filters through which we view the world. They’re shaped by our experiences, our upbringing, our religion, culture and more. Because of this, we shouldn’t take anyone else’s view of us or our actions as entirely accurate.

We view ourselves differently than others perceive us and not everyone perceives us the same way. We see through different lenses.

When someone says something about us, they’re saying something about themselves and how they view the world. Likewise, when we judge others, we’re really judging ourselves.

It’s the same reason I agree that what others think of us is none of our business, because their opinion isn’t the absolute truth. We always want their opinion to be positive, but the human mind dwells in the negative.

And so, the opinions of you that most people have aren’t important, and what’s more important is what you think of yourself. But, the views of others DO influence us.

Everyone projects their own stuff onto situations and that becomes their reality. We all have…

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Andrea Toole

Digital Marketing Manager | Freelance Writer | ADHD Mentor | Available for hire. http://andreawrites.ca.