"What Others Think of Me is None of My Business"...
The wise words of Wayne Dyer.
... In other words, sometimes it just ain't about you, Sister.
This post is going to come off as Tough Love. So, be warned. It can't be helped. Sometimes (most of the time?), I am gentle. But I'm being guided and coaxed to get a little grittier with this one today. And so, I shall pull out the Badass Laura vibe.
We're living in a physical time where there seems to be a lot of self-centred ways of being. Social media has our panties in a knot over how many Likes, Shares, or Comments we've got. How many views. How much approval.
And I'm not about to start on a rant about how selfish this is, or how wrong we are, or what needs to be done to fix it. I'm not actually even of the belief that "kids today are much more into image than ever before." (Actually, after some interesting interactions lately, I have some theories that the technological boom has simply magnified the way we've naturally been for some time now).
So, what am I going on about and what is my point? My point is that although you're worried about what you just said, or did, and you're thinking that everyone else in the room is too, they're not. The woman to your left is thinking about the fight she got into with her son this morning, that project deadline she has looming, and what's going to be on the supper table tonight. She's thinking about her mother who's really ill in the hospital, and she's feeling guilty about not making it over there yet today to visit.
Okay, so none of this is new to you. You've heard this all before. Stick with me here...
Last week, while having tea with your friend? Remember that less-than-impressed expression that flashed across her face for 1/4 of a second? The one you swear you saw while you were in the midst of pouring your heart out to her? Remember how you thought, "Oh god, she thinks I am such a sap. What a loser I am. I knew I should have kept this confession to myself! Wait. Wow! What a snot she is! Why would she make such a face at me in a moment like this?"
Would you be surprised to hear that the fleeting expression you swear you saw was in fact not about you? While in your very quick story-making mode, you misinterpreted what you saw? Would you like to know why your friend "dropped the ball" in your moment of vulnerability?
Your friend was not thinking, "What a loser." Rather, she thought for an ever-so-brief moment, "Oh no! I forgot Tommy clogged the toilet this morning before we left the house! Ugh! I'm going to go back home to a smelly house!" Tommy's her two year old, and in their rush that morning- the rush that involved burnt toast, spilled coffee, mismatched socks, a temper tantrum, and a bruised knee, Tommy also overflowed the toilet.
Hey! You wanted to know! And after all, it was you who used the word, "crap" during your vulnerable moment of sharing. Your friend can't be helped if the word "crap" reminded her of the stinky job she had waiting for her at home!
You're either rolling your eyes or you're smirking. Or laughing. That's okay, I'll take any of the above!
The truth is, we do this all the time. We are constantly, forever in story-making mode. We're always interpreting what we encounter, reactions we see, things that are said, energy we feel. And we're not always right. We're quick to justify why we're wrong, why they're wrong, why we should have stayed quiet, why we are absolutely right, why it's not safe to be ourselves, why that other person is such a jerk... We spend more time making assumptions and interpretations than actually just being in the moment!
Here's the thing: it's okay. It's. Okay. These are human functions-- these stories we tell ourselves, it's because we want to make sense of the world around us. We want to protect ourselves, protect those we love. We want to do the best for ourselves and the people we care about. It's natural to have the need to sort out what is a safe move and what isn't.
But the truth is, that living in these stories and jumping to conclusions, they give us a false sense of the world and our role within it. They keep us from really sharing who we are, and they keep us from really knowing the person next to us. The story you made up about yourself being such a loser for sharing yourself? That will now limit you to over-analyzing the next time you share- or worse- it will cause you to be so self-conscious that you never open up in the same way again. It will also contribute to a false sense of how you see your friend-- as an insensitive, dishonest fake. And in the end, it was all because you said the word "crap"! Crap, indeed. Right?
The lesson here? No one else is over-analyzing your existence. And if they are telling themselves a story about you, it's more than likely to be based on their own patterns and fears, and that has nothing to do about you, either.
Take stock of the stories you're telling yourself. The only real way to know what that facial expression meant is to be brave, and ask!