I was sitting with a client this week and realized half way through his session that he has been in conflict with an acquaintance, and has not been wrapped up in it as he would have been in the past. So I began to reflect on what had changed and how this had transpired for this individual.
Upon further reflection I began to explore the content of sessions with other clients as well, one who recently began treatment to help manage her anxiety and struggles with this concern, other’s view of her. One thing she said in my first session surprised me, she said “I want to be like you, I want to not care what people think.” So of course, this began a practice of reflection to examine if this was, in fact, true, do I not care? Or am I good at hiding it?
Here is what I came up with. For much of my life I cared deeply what other people thought. Especially as an adolescent girl, I mean who doesn’t? I had my share of “I don’t want to be your friend anymore!” blasts from peers over silly teenage things. But most of that stuff we outgrow. All except the feelings of insecurity that they create. The way I began to cope with this feeling of insecurity was two fold, one act like you don’t care and two, don’t screw up! So I became tough and I worked really hard not to screw up. Of course that was what happened on the outside, on the inside I would obsess and lose sleep over the silly stuff. (Which, ask my mentor still rears it’s ugly head every so often today).
So the real question, that $64,000 question is how did I move from caring and obsessing to doing my own thing? The accurate answer is who the hell knows… at the time, but since I have had the opportunity to reflect and break it down for clients to work through their path I realized something, I figured out the secret.
The secret is not in “not caring’, it’s in caring about the right things. A few years ago, someone told me that I had the ability to write my own story. This same person gave me one look, that expressed more to me that a thousand words could have. I realized in that moment, that I had some more work to do. I needed to stop making excuses, so that when I failed I had a reason, and I needed to start stepping it up and do what needed to be done to push though the goals I set for myself. As I realized that my drive to “do it right”, after a while got tiring, so it became all or nothing, I created excuses for the times of nothing, setting up the failure before it actually happened so not too much was expected. Really it was because I was fearful of failing. So with an excuse in tow, I waltzed through life and did the minimum needed to be moderately successful at what I do.
From that moment on I began to look at life through a new lens. The first thing I explored was who I surrounded myself with. Next was my own thinking patterns, and finally I examined what mattered most to me. I realized that some of the people in my life were a little on the toxic side. Now, my first yoga teacher training, the same thing happened, and shifts were made, so it was time to re-shift, which was what I did. I began spending more time with people that filled me up instead of drained me. I began blocking friends and family on Facebook who only posted negative comments, stories and gave off a negative energy. I left a very toxic work environment and began a new chapter in my life.
With my house and life cleaned out, I had to explore my own thinking and look at what got me here. To this place where I secretly always wonder, “Does that person like me? And do I care?” I began by reading, listening to podcasts and opening myself up to learning new things both about myself and that the world has to offer. I began practicing gratitude every day. Each morning, when I wake up, I take a moment to name 3 things I am grateful for. This worked to rewire the synaptic connections and assist in the process of changing my thinking patterns. I will say it didn’t happen overnight, and everyone is different, but the basic premise is, surround yourself with uplifting and positive messages, ask yourself to practice those same messages and your thinking will begin to shift.
So cool, I had changed the people I was closest to, who I chose to spend my time with, changed my thinking to be more positive, now what? Because this was not the end of the shift. I had practice for years pretending that I don’t care, pretending that I had the “right answer” and the “right response”, so how did I shift over into this place authentically?
The next step in this process, which I practice daily, is, caring about the right things, not having the right answer. I have surrounded myself with people I love and who love me, I have worked really heard to make connection important in my life, I move from an authentic place and love from that same place. That means, if I don’t want to do it I say no, OR, I use it as an act of love for the person I am doing it for.
It could be something as simple as taking my daughter to dance, which most people know, I’m not a huge fan of. All those things I want in my life, positive and uplifting people, is markedly missing in this place, and I often find myself frustrated and annoyed at the staff and teachers. In the past I would stew over the negativity and allow it to make me negative, or I would avoid the place, saying. “nope, too negative, not going there,” today my answer is, I stand there and watch Marley in her class through the lens of love, everything that happens around me that annoys me, just allows me to realize how much I love that little nugget, and how grateful I am that she knows how we talk to each other, how we care about each other, and that the mean little girls in her dance class, have no impact on her. For that I am truly grateful, and then there is a cycle of gratitude and love.
So you may be saying, agh, dance, please, that’s not a real problem, and you are correct. For me it’s not a real problem, anymore, but it could have been and it is no different that seeing the work you do as an act of love for your family to provide for them, or the schooling you are participating in as an act of love for yourself to further your growth. This is what I have learned, not all growth comes from positive interactions. Sometime, okay often times, the growth comes from our reflection on how we could have handled a situation differently, how we could have been more kind, more understanding, more empathetic, more loving, more…. You get it, but the point is, every event that happens in our lives, offers us an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves or someone/something else and that is the real gift. That gift can not be seen if all around and within you is filled with negativity.
When you create the right scenario, utilizing effective tools to manage your own thought process, it allows you to focus on the events, people and accomplishments (and lessons) in your life that really matter to you. It was utilizing this process of clearing out, changing my thinking, creating connections and getting really clear on what matters the most in my life, that I realized that it is all really simple. If people in the world don’t like me because I have done something to offend or hurt them, I can apologize, I can change my behavior. They can chose to accept my apology or not, nothing I say or do will change that. So I can let myself off the hook for being responsible for their emotions. If people in the world don’t like me, and there is nothing I have done to offend or hurt them, that is not an issue I can tackle, nor do I want to. Therefore I was never on the hook for their emotions, and as such, I choose not to allow their emotional outbursts to affect my sense of self. And, if by some chance I am feeling sucked into allowing their emotions to impact my wellbeing, I return back to step two, gratitude and reading to change my thinking patterns. It is really that simple to “not care”, or more accurately “care about the right things”. Who knew?
So it is time to write the story you want for your life, with no fear of what others will say. It is time to set some big-ass goals, fail miserably and see what you learn, or maybe, just maybe, you don’t fail miserably, but you soar! You won’t know until you try.
Feeling Stuck? Let me know what you’re stuck on, I’d be happy to help! XO