Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about "me."
During the period of our education, or our domestication, we learn to take everything personally. We think we are responsible for everything. Me, me, always me!
Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one you live in.
Taking things personally makes you easy prey for those predators who try to send you emotional poison. They can hook you easily with one little opinion, and feed you all their emotional garbage. When you take it personally, you eat it up, and now it becomes your garbage. But if you don't take it personally, you are immune to their poison; you will not eat it. Immunity to emotional poison is the gift of this agreement.
When you take things personally, you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts. You make something big out of something little, because you have the need to be right and make everybody else wrong.
You try hard to be right by giving them your own opinions. But what you say, what you do, and the opinions you have are according to the agreements you have made and these opionions have nothing to do with the people around you. Your point of view is something personal to you. It is no one's truth but yours.
In the same way, others are going to have their own opinion according to their belief system. Nothing they think about me is really about me; it is about them. If I understand this, then when you get mad at me, I know you are dealing with yourself. I am the excuse for you to get mad.
You may even tell me, "Miguel, what you are saying is hurting me." But it is not what I am saying that is hurting you; it is that you have wounds that I touch by what I have said. You are hurting yourself. There is no way that I can take this personally. Not because I don't believe in you or don't trust you, but because I know that you see the world with different eyes - with your eyes.
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz