Many of us take what happens to us in our lives on a daily basis personally.
When things go right for us, we see ourselves as successes—-and when things go wrong for us, we see ourselves as failures.
When we do this, each moment becomes an indicator that we are either an okay person or a not okay person.
The truth is that we are neither.
Believing we can be a good person or a bad person puts us on a constant roller coaster of self-judgement which is a very challenging, confusing and crazy-making way to live.
This is why it can be so important to ask ourselves the question: “What if nothing is personal?”
This is how I see it:
Each of us is a blank slate.
Perhaps we can think of the concept of a “blank slate” as similar to “soul” or “pure awareness.”
Many of us have had the visceral experience of touching into this feeling of being emptiness, perhaps while meditating, doing yoga, being in nature or having an energy healing session.
This feeling of emptiness, of being a blank slate—is an experience of “being awareness”—that is, we identify with just a state of being rather than identifying with a sense of being a certain (type of) person.
Each of us has the potential to touch in with this feeling of being a blank slate.
However, most of the time instead of experiencing the emptiness, we experience a whole bunch of life stuff on top of this blank slate.
This is a lot of programming.
For instance, we know we have a name, and we have a concept of what our body is. We have belief systems, nationalities, interests, ideas, habits and neuroses. We also have identifications with family and friends, and an overall sense that we are a certain way in terms of our temperament and talents.
There is nothing wrong with this programming—it is true, for us.
This programming is a collection of experiences we have had in this life, and in past lives.
Another term we could use for this programming could be karma, since it is a result of lifetimes of choices—specifically the challenges we have chosen to work with. The hard part about this karmic programming is that it constantly triggers us, and this triggering is the sense of taking things personally.
We feel “triggered” when we feel like we have messed up, been stupid and/or are never going to succeed. Resulting reactions often include blaming other people. It sends us into fights, brings about constant difficulties and has us doubting our own worth and capabilities.
This triggering is also fine.
Having our karmic programming triggered is how we grow, learn and evolve, which is a necessary part of the human journey.
But it isn’t personal.
No matter what we call it, once we notice this programming, we can see it as an opportunity to choose compassion over fear, and generosity over selfishness.
When we are triggered, it doesn’t mean that the universe is “punishing” us. We are constantly being given the opportunity to touch into our true selves self under our karmic programming. By stopping to ask ourselves what the growth opportunities are during moments when we are triggered, we offer ourselves a chance to feel pure awareness instead of identifying with the programming itself.
When we think we are the programming by deciding we are the mess, the blame, the problem and the confusion, we feel like nothing is possible.
When instead if we watch the triggered programming and become curious about what is unfolding in a depersonalized manner, we can then feel more generous towards ourselves and more open to the learning available to us, and ultimately karmic gains will appear.
But this can’t be done from a cognitive standpoint—in other words, this doesn’t happen by just thinking about not taking things personally. We need to touch in to the experience of pure awareness to help us detach from everything that can so easily feel so personal.
This is why we take the time to quiet our minds through meditation and mindfulness, so that we can feel the blank slate state and get a literal taste for how much more we are then our karmic programming.
From there, it becomes easier and easier not to take the things that go on in our daily lives personally.
And this is when the human journey becomes more comfortable.
And this is when we can truly be of service to others.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Laura Grafie/Flickr