Your reality may not be what you think it is.
This morning, it happened again: the bathmat was on the floor. I picked it up, folded it neatly, and placed it back on the tub, in the same place it always is, except after my husband showers.
I head to the kitchen, where I am greeted by a cacophony of open cabinets. I hate open cabinets and closet doors. They feel loud and make me feel unsettled, stressed. There’s always dog fur, despite daily vacuuming.
A terrible way to start the day? Never. This is a house alive with the people (and animals) I love, living in it. It is our home. It is true that I am very much a Virgo when it comes to the upkeep of my home, and my husband is not. He was always a gorgeous Capricorn, never a neatnik, and I don’t need him to become one. I choose to love this about him. I smile when I fold that bathmat, grateful to share a living space with him. I laugh at those cabinets, befuddled that someone can just leave them open like that, without noticing. And as I grab the vacuum cleaner, I imagine a future time where an errant fur ball shed long ago from one of our furry family members brings a tear to my eye because I miss them, not because I am allergic.
This morning could have been a disaster, if I chose to make folding that mat the bane of my existence and decided that those open cabinets were an act of disrespect, an affront to all the things I do to make our home beautiful and welcoming. I could curse those dirty dogs, yell at my husband, and just go back to bed, simmering; defeated before the day even had a chance to unfold.
It’s easy to imagine, because I used to live as a victim of a world that was against me. Disappointed. Slighted. Hurt. Offended. Angry. Sad. Depressed. I cried, screamed, punched my pillows. I had been dealt a horrible hand in life, and everything and everyone was working against me. My life was a living hell, in part because I decided to take everything personally. I had confined myself to a prison of my own making.
My liberation came once I was able to shift my thinking. The second of Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements teaches us to “Not take anything personally”:
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be a victim of needless suffering.
Put another way, you have no way of knowing the thoughts, motivations, or circumstances of other people. Everyone has their own story, their own reality, and it has nothing to do with your own. So many slights we experience are not only unintentional, but completely imaginary.
When we are able to let go of these judgments, to see things only as they actually are, we find peace, the key to our mental prison. But it’s not easy. All around us is another world, with people at war with ideas and each other, of good guys and bad guys.
In the end, we get to make the choice. We choose what to believe, who to listen to, what we say, what we do. If negative beliefs and thoughts aren’t serving us, what’s the point of holding onto them? And if we are going to fill the world with made-up stories about people’s bad intentions, why not tell some positive, loving ones?
This isn’t magic, but I was living under a spell. When I was able to shift my thoughts, it was as though I was visited by my Fairy Godmother, and my world was magically transformed.