At the end of the last school year I was chatting with the mom of my step-daughter’s BFF and she mentioned that her daughter had come home from school that day in tears. It turns out that another girl had taken a picture of the Mona Lisa, scribbled in the usual devil horns and mustache, and circulated it around school with her daughter’s name on it. After being surprised that it was an actual piece of paper and not a text message or Tweet, I was of course upset for my daughter’s BFF but I also realized I could share four simple words to help her cope with difficult people – Don’t Take Anything Personally.
I was able to talk to the BFF about the incident when she came over our house that weekend. As we started to discuss what happened, my step-daughter immediately piped in with “She’s just jealous!” in an attempt to make her friend feel better about the perpetrator’s actions. It was this comment that opened the door for me to discuss the 2nd agreement of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements – Don’t Take Anything Personally. To which I added, “Because it has nothing to do with you.”
I suggested that while it was easy to say the artist was “jealous” that perhaps it was more than that? Maybe the girl was trying to cause pain because she was in pain. Maybe she was trying to be hurtful because she lives with hurt. Maybe she really is jealous on some level and that’s how she acted out her emotions. I explained that, regardless of the reason, the drawing really had nothing to do with my daughter’s BFF and everything to do with the artist.