Updated: Jan 7, 2020
A client whom I work with about once or twice a week recently reignited my old love affair with authenticity.
You see, for her, when people do not treat her the way she had hoped or expected to be treated, she internalizes their actions and words as her own fault. As if she is in control of anyone else in the world.
"That's what I admire about you and her" said the client, referring to a friend of mine in the Okanagan who shares in my line of work, "if someone doesn't want to spend time with you, or they don't call or they say something rude to or about your, neither of you seem to care. Its like it just doesn't matter".
Her and I continued off and away into a discussion directly related to the source of her own inner turmoil -- but that conversation made me reflect on what could account for mine and my colleagues ability to appear this way. Because if I'm being perfectly candid, its not without work that I find myself able to detach from the opinions of others, and honestly, I'm not even always successful in it.
So here's a small list of practices and concepts that I've found liberating.
How to Stop Worrying About What Other People *Maybe* Think About You
1. Listen to silence
This is suggestion number one because this is the intervention technique. As your mind begins to take off into anxiety, stress, fear -- whatever it is that allows you to believe the "other" is negative -- become aware of that fast voice in your mind, see it, and then choose to help yourself.
Inspired first by Eckhart Tolle when I was a young woman, I came across these words "Pay more attention to the silence than to the sounds. Paying attention to outer silence creates inner silence: the mind becomes still" in Tolle's 2010 book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. Choose to notice your mind creating panic and negativity, choose to sit down and be with that rhetoric. Big breath in, close your eyes, and step into presence. Ask yourself: "What does silence sound like?" and then let your ears and mind find it.
There is a Buddhist practice, Bodhisattva Guanyin, that requires the student to listen to silence. Its a deep silence that exists below the currents of forest creaks and groans, but it is always there. "This method of listening described by Guanyin is a process of deeply entering into samadhi, a state in which the heart and mind “stop” producing any kind of intentional action and are fully immersed in non-action"
2. Be honest with yourself
This is not always easy to internalize and bring into our awareness, but I need you to know this:
What you think others think about you, at the end of the day, is only what you think. Period.
What does that mean? Well, it means that unless someone has point-blank told you "You're not good enough for me to spend my time with" or "I think you're a bad person and that's why I'm not calling you back" then it is your own self-talk creating your stress.
If you are holding beliefs within your mind, such as, "They think that I'm too boring of a person to spend time with" or "They are judging me because they know that I am not a good person", "they know my secrets" etc. etc. I need you to sit back and appreciate that these
3. Accept that they are thinking negative things about you
You may as well just stop wondering if they are and make peace with that they are.
Because either way -- you cannot change it.
Either way -- it is their interpretation of you. You are the only person who is with yourself day-in, day-out. You are the only one who knows you. So whatever anyone else is thinking is their opinion. And its a half-cooked one.
Once you accept that others may view you negatively, all that there is room to do is make peace with it all.
4. Evaluate your Own Outlook on Others
Have you ever heard people say things like "Social media is full of people judging each other" or "People are so rude, they love to make other people feel terrible" and so on? If you haven't, that's wonderful -- I have heard many friends, family members and clients speak like this though, and what it has revealed to me is that:
The level of safety that we feel regarding "the others" around us has a lot to do with the way we internally process information and those very same "others".
For example: If you scroll through Instagram, Facebook or whatever, and you are silently stoking the fires of jealousy and disgust or secretly criticizing someone, doubting their authenticity and so on -- all you are doing is creating that as a true reality for yourself.
Those emotions are now truly with you, that is now truly a reality, and it is entirely self-generated. You have effectively moved into the space of a self-fulfilling prophet. The negative emotions, hormones, feelings and energy that you are crafting together become your truth. It is the only way you can imagine others see you.
Shift your internal narrative! You get to choose!
If your internal narrative is judgey and rude -- stop yourself right there at the evil little words. Become aware and then, choose new words. Choose them and say them intentionally. It might not feel natural first, but you get to decide. Give a compliment in your mind, where you might have said "wow, I'm so jealous" try out "wow, that's so inspiring".