For years I have heard the statement that I “shouldn’t take things personally”. I’ve often wondered what that meant and asked myself how I could get out of it so I was immune to the effects on my inner state. In former years, I thought what they said about me must be true and I must do a lot of changing to gain their approval. This excerpt gives me another way of looking at what people say to and about me that puts a wedge between what they say and how I can see it differently—making it impersonal .
From workshop Albion 1972
Then, obviously you’re going to have sensation—all this approval is is that I sense somebody who says, “I like you” or “That’s a pretty suit” or “I like your weird tie” or “I like your hair” or “I like your behavior.”
That’s all it is – a matter of them expressing their taste. It expresses absolutely nothing about me. Did you ever realize that? Somebody says, “I like you.” They’re only telling you something about their taste; they’re not describing one iota about you. Don’t get the big head over it because all they’re telling you about their taste, not a thing about you.
They walk up and say, “I can’t stand you.” They’re not saying one derogatory thing about you; they’re only expressing their taste. They haven’t said a thing about you, and I take it as though it was something serious—accurate–true. No, it isn’t, they haven’t said one iota about you—they have only expressed their taste’ and I give everybody perfect freedom to express their taste—it has no effect on what I am.
So if somebody walked up to you and said: “I love you.” All they’re doing is telling you they have a taste — that they approve of you at the moment. It’s a statement of their state of being at that moment, not a thing about you.
And if I say, “You are the loveliest creature in the world.” I haven’t told you a thing about you, I’ve only told you about me. You see we’re always talking about ourselves and other people talk about themselves; and we have a form of insanity called “ideas of reference”. Did you ever hear that everything that is said, I think that it’s about me and I get all pushed out of shape over it—So that’s my particular brand of insanity.
So you have “ideas of reference”. You immediately jump to the conclusion because somebody has a personal taste that it somehow relates to you. Nobody can tell you one thing in the world about you because there’s nobody in that skin but you. The rest of them can only talk about their taste, and everybody’s got different taste.