It’s NOT About You
Picture this: You’re on the phone talking and on the other end it gets really quiet, too long of a pause and then they say, “I gotta run”.
What just happened? You start to worry, “Did I say something wrong? did I offend them? Was I boring them?” Then for the next unforeseeable time you continue with thought after thought after thought and now you’ve created this whole huge story and now YOU’RE offended!
I have a tip today that will help you out and keep you from diving in that thought spiral, because honey, it is NOT fun!
Four MAGIC words to adopt
Ready? Here’s the four golden, magic, offense-proof words: It’s NOT about YOU.
Let me explain, as human beings we’re really interested in other people. We have a lot of thoughts about them just as they have a lot of thoughts about us. We observe others all the time, while driving, at school, church, at home, on social media, watching a movie, going on a walk outside in your neighborhood, shopping, if there’s people around we’re having thoughts about them.
This isn’t a bad thing. People are interesting. We’re drawn to watch and observe others because this is one way we learn. We see how other people do things and we have thoughts about that.
We see people doing things and we think, I want to try that. I think I could be good at it too. Or we see people that are just optimistic and happy and we think, how can I be more like that? We learn from watching and observing other people. We also learn things we don’t like by watching and observing other people.
Watching and observing others isn’t a bad thing. It helps us navigate our world, culture, society, and get an idea of our preferences, what we like and what we don’t like or don’t prefer.
Fear of judgment
But there’s this thing that happens too. While while we’re thinking and observing others we’re also keenly aware that others are doing the same with us only we’re not thinking about it from an “Oh, they’re just watching to learn from me.” It’s more of a, “What are they thinking about me? What if they don’t like me? What if something is wrong with me?”
And this is where we start to get in a bit of a hole.
Listen to this quote by Dr. Michael Formica. He said,
“At a time when our ancestors shared the planet with woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers, no one wanted to get left behind. Group inclusion was necessary for survival. Today, our greatest predatory threat is our own species, both physically and socially. Regardless of this threat shift, the need for acceptance—and the fear that we won’t be accepted—remain powerful influences on our thoughts and feelings. In fact, this in large measure fuels the existential anxiety that has become the hallmark of a generation, driving everything from people-pleasing to codependence to over-sharing on social media.”
Did you catch that? This FEAR that we won’t be accepted fuels the existential anxiety that has become the hallmark of our generation…which then leads to lots of other issues: people pleasing, trying too hard, not being authentic because we’re too afraid to be vulnerable, or hiding because we think it’s easier and less risky.
This fear creates a lot of drama and chatter in our heads and it becomes the filter with which we start to see and color our world. We can’t just let others observe and learn from watching us we have to KNOW what they’re thinking and it better be something good, right?
What happened? Did I do something?
I speak to a lot of clients about relationships. There’s a lot of pain because they had a good thing going and now that person doesn’t speak to them and they’re worried what could have happened that made them shy away of become distant or not want to be close anymore. They spin thought after though after thought trying to find the answer to why.
Why don’t they like me or want to be around me?
What’s wrong with me?
Then they turn the circumstance into something painful about themselves. If they liked me then they’d call. If I was important, special, more fun then I’d have more friends. They’d WANT to be around me…and because I don’t…then something must be wrong with me.
If you’ve ever thought or felt any of these things I just want to tell you, you’re not alone, my friends. You’re not alone.
How can we stop caring so much what others think?
How can we stop caring so much? and what can we do to keep moving forward and not getting stuck in our own internal drama all the time? How can we get to a place where we can let others be themselves, and yes, say and do things we don’t agree with or understand while not falling apart inside and thinking inwardly about it too much? How can we stop caring SO much? What can we do so that we CAN show up as genuine, vulnerable, REAL and not be tossed to and fro with each opinion, look, and comment from others?
Hold tight to YOUR bucket
The first step is realizing that you’re in charge of your own emotional bucket. You have to take ownership that you’re the only one with access to your bucket. What others say or do cannot hurt you or offend you. If they could it would make you “an agent to be acted upon” and not an “agent to act” – or in other words, a game piece that can be moved against your will, wherever the circumstance wants to take you. We’d lose our free agency if this were the case and thankfully that is NOT part of the great plan of happiness.
Our beautiful, glorious gift of free agency gives us that power and authority over our buckets. So in navigating this world with lots of people in it always, always remember that you’re the only one that gets to add or take from your bucket.
Mahatma Ghandi once said:
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission…I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
It’s right there. You’re in charge of what goes in your bucket. Fill your own bucket and the more you do, confidence increases and what others say or do won’t bother you as much.
It offers you freedom to hear their opinions and decide if you want to believe them or not. It gives you an opportunity to decide if you want to tweak how you’re operating or think, no, I’m good here.
Okay, so step one: Always take ownership and responsibility for your bucket and the filling of your bucket.
What’s REALLY going on?
TWO: Figure out what it is that’s REALLY bothering you. It’s not that your friend stopped calling you. It’s the meaning you place on that circumstance. Why isn’t she calling? she used to call. Did I do something wrong? Does she not like me anymore? Something must be wrong with me. We internalize these moments and create a lot of drama about them…and we take it to great extremes too.
What really worries us, causes us pain is that those thoughts we have internally might be right, it’s when we believe that something is wrong with us, that something needs to change that creates pain, fear, and anxiety.
So step two: Do some digging and ask yourself WHY their actions, words, thoughts, or opinions matter to you. Locate the problem. Find out why it’s causing you so much pain, anxiety, and fear.
Doing a brain dump is really helpful when you’re doing this second step. Grab that sheet of paper and just start writing everything. The real problem will be found and then you can address it.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
Which leads us to step three and the last thing I’m going to touch on today…What other’s do, think, or say IS NOT ABOUT YOU. We’re really skilled at making things about us. We should all have a blackbelt in this area because we’re all so stinking good at it.
I love the advice the Ancient One give’s Dr. Strange in that Marvel movie. She said, “It’s NOT ABOUT YOU.” She says it early in his training but it’s also her last piece of advice to him. The last thing she wanted him so desperately to know. It’s not about you, because it’s not.
Too often we internalize everything other people say or do and make it mean all kinds of things about us and this is totally inaccurate because what they’re saying or doing has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with them, their day, their past experiences, how they’re feeling.
Even if they look right at you and say words to you it still has nothing to do with you. Nothing. What they’re experiencing has everything to do with them. It’s not about you. I promise. If they’re mad, offended, hurt, or whatever they’re feeling – it has nothing to do with you. They have their agency to interpret your actions and decide what they want to make it mean just like you interpret their actions, words and decide what you’re going to make it mean.
Stop trying to live a life that you think “they’d” like
We strive so hard to live in a way where everyone would like us. If they liked us then we could feel good about ourselves and the world would be this blissful place, right? But there are over 7 billion people on earth with over 7 billion thoughts, preferences, perceptions. There’s going to be differing opinions.
There are going to be people that don’t like you, and that’s okay. There are going to be people that don’t agree with you, and that’s okay. There are going to be people that don’t want to talk to you and THAT’S OKAY. It’s NOT ABOUT YOU. Them not liking you isn’t about you. It’s about them. It’s about their preferences and what’s going on in their lives.
Be a peach
There’s this quote by Dita Von Tesse that says, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
Just because someone doesn’t like peaches does that automatically mean that something is wrong with the peach? NO. The peach is perfect at being a peach.
I personally think grapefruit is disgusting. I think it’s beautiful, it even smells good but I do not want to eat it ever. I think it’s gross. If the grapefruit could think it could easily make my thoughts and my comments about itself right? It could think things like, she doesn’t like me, something must be wrong with me. But is there something wrong with the grapefruit? No. The grapefruit is perfect at being a grapefruit. My thoughts and comments have everything to do with me, my preferences, my tastes, and opinions. Nothing is wrong with me either. We’re just different. In fact, I have a family member that LOVES grapefruit. He’s not offended that I don’t like grapefruit because it’s not about him. My actions, preferences, thoughts have everything to do with me.
You are perfect at being YOU
Take the Ancient One’s advice and remember, what others do, say, think, or feel is not about you. You are perfect at being you. Right now, nothing needs to be fixed, changed, altered for you to be perfect and whole, valuable, and accepted. You are a child of God and you are perfect at such.
This isn’t to say that we stop trying to become more if we’re perfect already. We’re always wanting to refine ourselves and grow but it’s not because something is wrong with us it’s because we’re ready and capable of learning more.
So let’s recap:
1.) Take ownership of your emotional bucket and the responsibility to FILL your own bucket.
2.) Locate what the real problem is. Why does their actions, words, thoughts bother you? Why is it causing you anxiety and fear?
3.) Remember, it’s not about you. What they say or do or even think is not about you but about them.
These three steps will offer you so much freedom to live authentically. To show up in any situation as your best self. To give the gift of your own uniqueness to the world.
You got this my friends! Have a great week!