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The Four Agreements for Migraine: Don’t take anything personally

In the last post I introduced the first of four agreements from The Four Agreements, “Be impeccable with your word” and shared ways to apply this agreement to life with migraine. I hope you have taken the opportunity to put some of these ideas into practice.

Now let’s take a close look at the second agreement, “Don’t take anything personally” and discover how this can improve the quality of our lives with migraine. It can be freeing to let go of what others say and do. Unfortunately, letting things get to us is human nature. It takes practice and determination to become immune to the stinging remarks others make about us. Here is what the author has to say about this agreement:

 “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.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Let’s examine a few ways we can learn to avoid taking even the nastiest comments personally.

Be immune to the opinions of others

“This is all in your head.”
“You’re an attention-seeking drama queen.”
“You’re giving yourself a migraine.”

Whatever others think or believe is all about them, not about you. Just because someone says it doesn’t make it true. Their opinions can tell you a lot about them and nothing about you. To embrace another’s opinion about you as truth is inviting unnecessary suffering into your life. Immunize yourself against such infectious poison by ignoring what others think of you.

Refuse to eat emotional poison

“You’re a whiner.”
“You take too much medicine.”
“You just need to relax.”

When you believe the ugly things others say about you, their words act like an emotional poison on your spirit. You internalize their message and begin to behave as if it were true. Don’t let others define you in negative ways that aren’t really true. Only accept feedback from others that is based in fact and wrapped in love from people who care about you and understand what you are going through.

See other people as they are

“Those doctors are worthless.”
“Big pharma never helped anybody.”
“Biofeedback is THE answer!”

What other people think, say, and do will help you discover who they really are. By focusing on what you can learn about them, it’s easier to ignore their opinions about you. Recognize that their need to spread such poison has nothing to do with you. Then you will be unfazed when they say you are faking it, accuse you of causing your migraines, or call you crazy. These comments are just a reflection of who they really are. This understanding will protect you from the damage of their opinions.

Release self-judgment

“I shouldn’t have eaten that chocolate bar.”
“I’m never going to get better.”
“I’m so worthless.”

Even what you say to yourself might not be true. Don’t take your self-talk personally if it is not from a place of love and respect. Ignore your inner critic when she tries to blame you for your pain.

Love and respect yourself

“It’s okay to keep looking for better results.”
“I make the choices that are best for me.”
“I deserve love and respect.”

You are responsible for yourself, not anyone else. You get to make the choices about your health care and lifestyle. No one else can really do that for you. You deserve a compassionate, competent doctor. You deserve understanding loved ones. You deserve to have your pain appropriately managed. Anything less is unacceptable. By insisting on this, you show that you love and respect yourself.  Unsupportive people are a blessing when they walk away. Likewise, you have no need to treat others badly in order to feel better about yourself.

For discussion: What’s the hardest thing someone has ever said to you about migraine? How might the practice of this agreement impact that statement?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Not-Again
    5 years ago

    The hardest thing someone (so far) has ever said to me was, “Ha ha ha ha, I can’t wait to tell my girlfriend you are allergic to your dad. Ha ha ha ha, that is so funny.” As all of us with migraine disease have had more than our share of unwanted comments and labels thrown at us, my dad’s wife’s true, belly-bustin’ gufaws stunned me completely. My head was already hitting the higher end of the pain level scale and I was already as I call it, ‘losing my words’, I finally just hung up the phone. The allergy was in fact a very bad trigger for me – cigarette smoke. I was excited I had identified some of my triggers so that I could deal with them and less migraine. I did not talk with them on purpose for many days. That was two years ago. They invited me to their home for a vacation this year. The invitation came with multiple options all based around their need to smoke yet couched in language ‘for me to be comfortable while there’. Unfortunately, the options were triggers as well….very hot weather, direct sunlight….All this to say, for the Second Agreement, my family has the right to smoke and I have the right to be healthy.

    I sent them an email with all links and information so they could get educated about migraine disease and it would help our relationship. Yeah, that really worked. I choose instead to remember when they came to Texas a few years ago and I visited with them then. Endured an entire weekend of migraine. I’ve decided to just let that time be my last memories of physically being with them.
    Thank you for reading.

  • Tammy Rome author
    5 years ago

    I am so sorry your family has not been supportive or understanding. Cigarette smell is one of my big triggers, too. I’ve lost family and friends who would not even try to accommodate my health needs. You do have the right to be healthy. I’m just sorry it has cost you so much.

  • hswartzfager
    5 years ago

    As a 20+ year chronic acute migaine sufferer (5th generation!) & an attorney, I’ve had just about EVERYTHING said to me from friends, family & strangers! I’m very sensitive anyway & especially so when I have a migraine. Over the years, I have learned, that to keep my SANITY, I MUST keep true to myself & my fantastic neurologist in order to keep running! There is no time for analyzing the words, thoughts or actions of others. I did it for a while & realized that “analysis leads to paralysis”! Don’t let others define your life! Migraines are enough to deal with. As far as someone telling you that
    “you are taking too much medicine”, you are UNDER A DOCTOR’S CARE!!! Quite frankly, it’s none of their business. You don’t owe anyone an explanation! YOU are the patient and go to a DOCTOR. Therefore, this information is protected under DOCTOR-PATIENT PRIVILEGE. Unless you tell someone, your medical & prescription details, under law, ARE PRIVATE!

  • Janet
    5 years ago

    Wow!!!!! You’ve just said everything I feel. Thank you!


  • Jovial Tam
    5 years ago

    I don’t want to sound detached but I have truly learned to not worry about what people say or think. Especially when it comes to my migraines. In the long run people who are going to trash you are going to trash you. It isn’t worth the drama.

  • Janet
    5 years ago



  • slhart
    5 years ago

    Don’t let others live in your head rent free 🙂 Good advise but hard to follow sometimes especially when you are feeling beat down by chronic migraine.

  • Clarec62
    5 years ago

    Thank you Tammy. All very good advice.

  • Luna
    5 years ago

    Thank you Tammy. This post is even better than the 1st agreement.
    Just because someone says it doesn’t make it true (including your own self talk. How true!!!
    You are responsible for yourself, not anyone else. And we do make mistakes (so does everyone) but learn and keep going forward. Love and forgive yourself.
    When we are in pain it is more difficult to have the energy to recognize the emotional or verbal abuse that others seem happy to heap on us. Thank you Julie for the abuse and shame insights.

  • Jules2dl
    5 years ago

    The types of remarks mentioned in this post might well be categorized as verbal or emotional abuse. As a lifelong migraineur I’ve been the butt of these types of remarks myself and I know how much they sting. The crop sown by a season of verbal/emotional abuse is shame, and shame is more dangerous and more difficult to get rid of than any other weed in your garden. Bones mend, bruises fade, but your subconscious holds on to its hurts for a loooong time. I know I’m mixing my metaphors, please forgive me. It’s just that once shame gets hold of us we begin to think there’s something horribly wrong with us. Maybe we even believe we are somehow causing our own pain, or worse yet, that we deserve it. Our self esteem and confidence evaporate. And guess what? Our headaches get worse too, from all the stress we now put on ourselves.
    The Four Agreements is a great book to read to (excuse the pun) get our heads on straight. Personally, I’d like to thank Tammy for her wonderful posts about the agreements…great reminders!! It also helps me to remember that everybody has something to deal with in life. I’d rather have migraines than something worse. But, just because someone has something worse doesn’t mean my head doesn’t hurt (a lot).
    Not feeling real coherent right now, so I hope this post makes sense!

  • Janet
    5 years ago

    You post was very encouraging.

    Coherence…sometimes it’s a real struggle as we (me especially ) scrounge for the words that escape our memory when trying to express ourselves due to the overwhelming effects of migraine..aphixia for one…as rachael Jablo ‘s book entitled ‘ My days of losing words’ states…often times we can’t get the word we know is inside our brain but can’t find it from the disruption of what chronic migraine has done…

    Not a victim …just trying my best to live in the days when migraine seems to be in the drivers sent.

    The four agreements is a great way to help,ourselves…to help anyone..but again..we can never control what other says or believe about us…as mentioned it’s hard not to let it hurt as we are human…a weakness to trying to guard ourselves from ignorant hurtful words.


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