What I hear so Often
What do you think about what others think of you?
Do you care about what other people think and do?
Odds are… you do.
“How can you be so sure?” you may ask.
Because, well, that’s just kind of the way people are. If we didn’t care what other people thought, then, the cosmetics, fashion and fitness industries wouldn’t be worth billions. Plastic surgery would be reserved for those who suffer from a physically crippling deformity, or maiming from an accident.
Almost all of the time someone wants to change something about themselves, it’s because they saw someone else do it differently (= better) and they want to fit in or keep up.
Now, if caring about what other people do and think gets you to do constructive things like brush your teeth and chew with your mouth closed, no problem.
The problem arises when paying attention to what others do, and caring about what they think, leaves you feeling lacking.
So often, I hear the following: “Well, everyone else seems to have it together.”
“What do you mean?” I ask. “How do you know?”
It usually turns out that whomever I’m talking to has not led in-depth research studies on the lives of the people around them. Shocking, right? It’s just that when they look, they notice a few points about the other person’s presentation, demeanor or assets – and they’ve constructed a whole wonderful life that must be behind it.
Except that wonderful life rarely exists. One never, ever knows what is going on in someone else’s inner world. We all have parts of ourselves that we let very few, if anyone, ever see.
That woman at the peak of health and fitness you see in the gym every morning? She’s struggling financially. That neighbor who lives in a gorgeous house with lots of well-behaved children? He suffers from clinical depression and can barely drag himself out of bed in the morning. That friend of yours, the one who always seems so happy and confident? She is fighting staggering feelings of abandonment.
If you compare your revealed and hidden life to someone else’s revealed life alone, you’re always going to lose. If you worry about what they think of your life, you’re always going to lose.
What should you do if you want to win?
Instead of comparing yourself to what you think others have and do, and worrying about what they think of your life – forget about them and think about yourself independently:
- Are you satisfied with your life?
- Are you satisfied with the people you surround yourself with?
- Are you satisfied with how you spend your time and energy?
If you were to look at yourself in a bubble, how would you compare the self you are to the self you want to be?
If there’s a change you want to make, go for it. But do it because that’s what you want, not because that’s what other people are, or that’s what they think (or you think) you should be.
It’s your life. The only who needs to be satisfied is you.