Mental Health

On Not Taking Things Personally

Wouldn’t it be nice to carry the automatic belief that other people’s actions have absolutely nothing to do with you?

Before you start reading...

Please Support our Nonprofit Magazine!

There has never been a time when our community and content was needed more. As a nonprofit online community and magazine, we provide FREE articles, videos, and other content that is available worldwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Due to the global pandemic, we’ve had to put events, collaborations and business sponsorships on hold, leaving us to rely exclusively on online donations from our community (aka YOU!) We want to be here to support you all through this pandemic and beyond, which is why we are asking you to consider donating whatever you are able. A single (or monthly) donation of just $5 will make a difference and will help keep our nonprofit running so we can continue supporting you and others.
Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Donation Total: $5 One Time

Originally published January 7, 2018 on Republished here with permission. Get your blog featured!


During my flight back to California yesterday I noticed the woman next to me fold her hands in her lap and begin to softly cry during landing. We were experiencing some turbulence, which is what I attributed it to.

She was sitting in the aisle seat, and me in the middle. Her husband was sitting in the aisle across from her. Rather than look to him for comfort she closed her eyes and turned her head slightly towards me as several tears fell down her cheeks. She carefully used the edge of her sleeve to dry them, then she opened her eyes, and resumed reading.

Several minutes later it happened again, same process. When I looked over I noticed that her husband was reading as well, completely unaware.

By the time we landed and began to taxi to our gate, they had begun to discuss which overhead bin their suitcases were in and who would call the Uber for their pick up.

Are you enjoying this article? We are a nonprofit and rely on donations to run our magazine and community. If you are enjoying this article, would you consider making a $2 donation?

Give $2 towards this Article


Custom Amount

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Donation Total: $2 One Time

It was as if nothing had happened. He would never be the wiser and she would carry on.

I began to wonder: why didn’t she turn to him for comfort? Was she embarrassed? Was he tired of it? Did he not understand? Why did I care so much?

Then it occurred to me; I often question myself about when and what I choose to rely on people for.

Will they judge me? Will they grow tired of my emotions? Will they be able to show up? And if not, will it result in me feeling even worse?

Which led me to think about it more globally. What do we expect from others in our lives? Is it their job to be there every time we need them? And if we rely on them and they don’t “show up” for us, is that a reflection of their love for us? Or a measure of our own lovability? Could it be possible that they just don’t have the capacity to show up sometimes? Or that it is not their job at all?

All this swirled around in my head as I stood in the baggage claim waiting for my luggage (which never came—thanks, Southwest! But that’s a whole other story).

All this thinking reminded me of the chapter in a book my cousin gave me when I graduated from high school. I have since recommended this book to many people–family, friends and patients alike.

The book is written by Don Miguel Ruiz and is called The Four Agreements. It is based on four basic principles:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

As I stood and waited, I began to think about the second of the four agreements: “Don’t take anything personally.”

That has always been the hardest one for me. I am currently far too sensitive to embody this belief.

Ruiz explain in his book, that,

“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 the victim of needless suffering.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to carry the automatic belief that other people’s actions have absolutely nothing to do with you?

That when my husband cannot be there for me in the way I feel I need, that is not about me. That when a coworker is rude to me, that is not about me. That when some troll on the internet says mean things about me, that is not about me!

In his book, Ruiz continues to explain:

“As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won’t need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others.

If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you.

You can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need”

What a liberating concept. Maybe the women on the plane has the ability to self soothe and does not need the comfort of another individual; maybe it just wasn’t a big deal to her or maybe she has accepted that she can soothe herself in a more helpful way than her husband is able and that his inability to do so is not about her. We will never know; but what I do know is that practicing this second agreement is my January theme.

I despise New Year’s resolutions, but I did decide to pick a theme for each month of 2019 and try to practice it. So, in following through, I’ll call this month: Don’t take it personal January.

(Another layer of my decision is to try and work the title of a 90’s song into each theme–this month is dedicated to Monica: “It’s just one of ‘dem days, when I gotta be all alone, it’s just one of ‘dem days, don’t take it personal…”)


Article Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Support our nonprofit by shopping from our NEW Giving Shop!

Click Here to visit the shop!

Vanessa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Forensic Psychotherapist with over a decade of counseling experience. She holds a Master's of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Sofia University, a Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor's of Arts in Interior Architecture with a focus on Therapeutic Design and a Master's of Science in Forensic Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is also a State Certified Medical Advocate, Crisis Intervention Counselor and a Certified Nursing Assistant, as well as an active member of The AAMFT, CAMFT, IACFP and APA. Vanessa maintains an independent private practice in Santa Cruz, CA.


Become a patron!

Become a Monthly Patron

3 of 20 donors
$ 5

You have chosen to donate $5 monthly.

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Donation Total: $5 Monthly

Support our work through our NEW Giving Shop!

libero mental health nonprofit giving shop preview

Do you blog about mental health?

Follow us on Instagram!

Instagram has returned empty data. Please authorize your Instagram account in the plugin settings .
Micaela: Free from Shame | Libero Magazine 1 Send us your story! [click here] or post your “Free from___” photo on Instagram and tag us: @liberomagazine!


The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.