If I knew back then what I know now, here’s the number one thing I would do to change my life the most dramatically, the most quickly.
I have no regrets, but I do wish I’d not bothered with about ten really hard things i was struggling with which I thought would help me when my life was a real struggle for survival, and I’d just done this one thing instead.
Here it is.
Don’t care what others think about you. Don’t think about it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t plan your days around it. Don’t accommodate it, ruminate on it, or organise your thinking to consider it.
Thinking about what others may think about you is a bad habit. A BAD HABIT. You must give it up, instantly. I know you will need time to ease out if it, like all addictions. And you’ll need something to replace it with. I have just the thing.
So, here’s what you do.
Replace all the instances when you perceive a person is judging you, assessing you, accumulating an assumed knowledge about you in their head, plotting to overthrow you, or about to throw a fake smile (or something worse) at you, and thwart that exprctation on your part with a kind act instead. Smile. Put your hand out to shake theirs. Ask them how they are doing. Sit by them. Stand by them. Give them an attentive presence. Exchange your bristling, defensive hostility for physical acts of kindness, acceptance and peace.
Do this as an experiment and see what happens. Give it a week.
Later, at home, you can jump to all the conclusions you like about them. You can write a mean essay or scream into your pillow about them. But you won’t, because in being kind to them, you’ve neutralized fear. Your fear.
And fear is what makes us care what others think about us. Fear of being judged, disliked, rejected. The cure for this is to actively refuse to judge, dislike or reject others.
This isn’t about helping what you feel. This is about not acting on what you feel. This is about directing your feelings gently into making you behave in a way which is less likely to get you what you’ve been assuming you’ll get anyway – judged, disliked, rejected. Gossiped about. Punched in the face.
Now, if you feel or are unsafe, get yourself out of there. This is not about accepting abuse, or allowing yourself to be hurt.
But if we are just talking about a room full of people, real or virtual, and your rancid, overwhelming fear of those people’s thoughts about you, then here’s the sauce. They are not thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves. They are thinking about how you are judging them, making assumptions about them, seeing through their facade and hating them already. Because that’s what we all do. And it’s not helping, not helping.
Someone has to stop the rot.
The antidote is kindness. You be kind to someone first, and watch how the atmosphere changes. Kindness becomes a culture in the space you’re in, in fact, if you’ll create safe spaces where kindness is the culture, you’ll go from being a frightened follower, to a shining star, and people will be drawn to you, and you won’t believe the nice things they will assume about you. It’ll be shocking and amazing. And addictive.
Forget about creating a persona to defend yourself from behind. Forget about your image, your public face, those walls you’ve stayed safe behind. Be kind, not perfect. Be gentle, not brittle. Be the culture-setter in the space. It’s like magic. It will change your world.
If I’d known I could change my universe from a hostile, angry, defensive, judgement filled shit-fight to a community of safe, vibrant spaces where people are not afraid to be authentic and where I have friends everywhere I go, simply by giving up my addiction to caring what others think of me, and using that energy caring about them instead, I’d have done this years ago.
Try it. It’s like magic.
Love you lots,
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