Let’s be honest, right from the start. Most of us are vain and ego-maniacal. We are concerned only with me, me, me, believing that the world - the entire universe - revolves around us, just as early humans believed the sun travelled around the Earth. They were wrong. And so are we.
It doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us human. We all do it. And it doesn’t mean that there aren’t people (family, friends) in our lives that we care about, or that care about us. It just means that we take centre stage. All the time. The tremendous downside to our faulty thinking is that we spend a great deal of time and energy worried about what other people think of us (after all, we’re the ones standing centre stage with a spotlight shining on us before our global audience). It keeps us up at night. Now, admittedly, this affects some of us more than others. But I’m going to let you in on a secret...
No one is spending much (if any) time worrying about us. We don’t have time to think about others that way. It’s so obvious and rational when you stop and think about it...if we are all self-involved and self-obsessed, who exactly are those people supposedly judging us? I mean, really, who are we to them?
We’re all convinced that everyone we encounter is secretly judging and disapproving of us.
No one cares about you or your behaviour...at least not in the way we all think they do. But we’re all positive that everything we say, do, and believe is being scrutinized.
When we’re afraid that others might think we’re stupid, we tend to give off that vibe. If we’re scared of sounding foolish, we stumble on our words and can’t articulate our ideas. When we question whether to stand up for something, we worry whether it’s the right belief (what if others - gasp! - believe differently?).
We spend most of our day thinking about ourselves, not others. As does everyone else.
Once you disregard the non-existent threat of being judged by others, you have no reason to not stand up for what you believe in. None. And that makes you a better, stronger person. Period. Others might disagree, but they probably won’t be judging you about it. If anything, they might question their own opinions. Remember...it’s always about “me”.
And, let’s be honest (once again...seeing a trend?). No matter how much you try and hide from judgment, or expressing a differing opinion, or confrontation, or looking silly, or appearing different in some way, you’re never going to appeal to everyone. So in order to avoid being negatively viewed, we spend an insane amount of time and effort trying to please everyone, to which Bill Cosby sums it up best:
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
Thanks, Bill. You’re better off just being yourself. Let the chips fall where they may. You’re likely not going to get judged, and even if you do, it’s going to be fleeting...because we are all too busy thinking about ourselves.
People may disagree with our opinions. They might disapprove of our ideas. But so what? They’ve already moved on almost as fast as the disagreement occurred to them. Now, this doesn’t give you free range to be antagonistic. Only true to yourself. The only real danger is not being honest with ourselves. So speak up! Stand up! And be heard.
What, then, is the benefit of all this selfishness we exhibit? You’re free to be your true, authentic self.
As Yoda once said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” At least I think it was Yoda...it may have been someone else, but the point still stands. When you know unequivocally that no one has time to waste on judging you, there is no reason to not do the things that scare you. And that, my friends, is the ultimate in liberation.
So much of the fear in our daily lives comes from the fear of failing and looking foolish, or stupid, or ignorant, in front of others. Again, we know this just isn’t happening as much as we think it is, and even when it does happen, those negative thoughts and opinions are gone quickly.
People are too concerned with what you think about them to give too much attention to your botched presentation, or whatever. And that’s a powerful gift to anyone that realizes it. We all have insecurities. In any situation that scares you or makes you nervous, imagine the worst case scenario, and then trust that it either won’t happen, or will literally last a nanosecond. And then do it despite your reservations.
Giving a speech? Asking out your new colleague? Doing karaoke at the restaurant? Speaking out against the racist or sexist joke someone just told? Yes. Do that. Anytime you’re afraid specifically of what someone else might think of you, remember that they don’t. And I mean that in a good way.
We spend our lives concerned about ourselves, but worried what others might think of us. It’s exhausting, and a waste of time. The only person who spends that much time thinking about you, is you.
Know that. Trust that. Stand up for what you believe in. Do the things that scare you for egotistical reasons. Sing. Dance. Speak up. Stand up. And be the best version of yourself as a result. No one will judge you...but everyone will notice.
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