(Part 2 of a 4-part series on The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz)

Let’s be real. Who doesn’t take things personally? And how is it working out for us?

Trying not to take things personal is the 2nd of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, and just may be the real crux of humanity. How often do we swallow the behaviors, words, reactions of others as personal pills of reward or rejection? Eek.

And when it comes to pulling from the medicine cabinet of motherhood, we compromise our self-esteem and worth every time we take the behavior of our kiddos personally.

If you’re anything like me, here’s the pattern: when they make good choices, speak kind, follow the rules, we take the positive experiences as personal affirmations that we are a ‘good mom’, doing things right. When our kid acts out or disrespects us, we often perceive the negative behavior as an affirmation that we are a ‘bad mom’, which induces shame, often masked with anger, sadness, etc.

Riding this see saw doesn’t move us forward one inch. The only direction we go is up and down. And addiction can follow in the form of needing a constant fix of motherly perfection to feel good.

The end game of taking things personally is diminished self-love and a false perception of self. And not just for us. Because what are we teaching our kids? To measure their true value and worth on how this broken world treats them? Eek.

Can you imagine if Jesus took things personally? I can’t even because He knows exactly what’s in our heart and how we tend to project pain on others (even Him) because we don’t want to feel it ourselves. Yet, He loves us right where we’re at. Ugly and all.

We know our kid’s behavior is much more a reflection of who they are: insecure little people trying to find their place in this big, uncertain world. When we meet them where they’re at, we are making our love, care, and concern for them personal instead.

Consider just one example of not taking things personally as a mom:

Deciding not to take your child’s eye-rolling, scoffing, or disobedience personally this morning means your kid will not carry forward the added burden of your negative reaction. The continued inner peace in you carries through your day whether at work or home, making a stress-free experience for everyone around you. When evening comes, the lack of tension at home helps everyone have a good night’s rest. And, come morning, each person in your family starts a new day feeling refreshed and ready to face the world.

One agreement by one individual in one moment of time has the power to change countless lives via the ripple effect.

After mothering for two and half decades, I finally learned this yesterday. Thank you, life. You are a great teacher.

Until tomorrow…When I’ll no doubt have to learn again.  I’ve become quite an expert at the the two steps forward, fives steps back dance routine.  🙂

Stay tuned as I delve into the 3rd agreement next week. Let me know in the comments how this agreement to not take things personally is changing you and your family. And forward to a friend! And if you missed it, click here to read the 1st agreement, Let’s Be Impeccable with Our Words, Mommas.

Praying you forward, crazy Mommas!




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Shelby is a self-described “sappy soul whisperer and sarcasm aficionado” who has a deep love for Jesus and storytelling. She is a wife of 28 years and a momma of three 20-something kiddos. As a freelance writer and author, you can find her words in the national publication, Guideposts, and all over the web at places like Her View From Home, Today, Parenting Teens & Tweens, Love What Matters, Scary Mommy, and others. Shelby also has a new online mothering course called, Mindful Mothering: When You Change the Way You Look at Things, the Things You Look at Change, and she blogs over at shelbyspear.com.