GUIDELINES FOR SENIOR LIVING #2

Apr 14th, 2012 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Don’t Take Anything Personally

This series of guidelines for senior living is based on Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements. The second Agreement is actually my favorite:  Don’t Take Anything Personally.

We all know senior citizens, and people of all generations, who wear their feelings on their sleeves, and have a reaction to everything that comes their way, whether or not they are directly affected by the situation.  Their emotions immediately rise to the surface with a reaction, an opinion or even worse, an expression of personal insult.  Some people live their lives believing everything and everyone revolves around them, and they are affected by it all.

The Agreement, Don’t Take Anything Personally, suggests there is another way for us seniors to perceive the world.  That is, we can choose whether or not we respond or react to any stimulus placed in front of us.  And further, we can choose what the reaction/response will be.

Choosing not to react/respond takes some intentional practice. Some of our reactions are ‘knee-jerk’.  That is, we perceive a specific stimulus in our environment, and we’ve reacted for so many years in a certain way, that we just automatically react in that practiced way.  So to change those kinds of reactions takes practice; it means we decide (choose) to respond in a different way, and then we have to practice that so we can change the behavior. For example, when I was a child, ‘cute’ was a derogatory label applied to distasteful behavior.  As a senior, I now live in a culture in which ‘cute’ is a desirable label for a woman appearing to be attractive.  I have had to change my reaction to that word and have had to practice a lot to begin to hear it positively.

Choose Your Response

We need to press the reaction/response to the next level for this Agreement.  Not taking anything personally means you create a shield between you and your environment in which you refuse to believe any comment/behavior on the part of others has any bearing on you personally.  Others may or may not intend to insult you or to compliment you; people making comments that reflect negatively on you or your life may or may not be intentional.  The heart of this Agreement is that the intent of the other, as well as the message, isn’t the issue.  The issue is how you choose to respond.  And this Agreement means that responding without taking anything into your personhood and believing it is part of you keeps you in a healthier place physically and emotionally.

Comments and behavior of others is a reflection of them, and where they are in life.  Keeping the shield in place that prevents you from taking anything personally, giving others room to own their own behavior, leads to greater happiness for seniors.



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