One area that I have constantly struggled with over my life, and worked very hard during these last 12 months, is around what other people think or say about me (another form of ego). It has been, and continues to be an area that causes me pause. Prior to entering this journey, I can assume that it was a daily struggle. I believed I tried to seek the approval others way too much! I can only assume this because being aware of how I feel now; I see how many times these thoughts enter my thinking. Decisions I want to make and when I struggle on what someone, somewhere, might think.
I am always wondering why I cared what others thought of me? Before this I would have said with all honesty that I did not care. But, that was only partially true, by partially true I mean very small or not at all true. Seeking others approval or acceptance happens from the very beginning and we have it so far ingrained that I doubt in most cases we even know we are doing it. I know I wasn’t.
Understanding why we care what others think is “now” easy; the grains of sand that are riddled throughout my life are numerous. Where I put on a brave face, smiled when I wanted to cry, felt that my problem was foolish… I know that this list is small and I could add many examples.
I am sure we see examples everyday, people caring what others think of them. Just last week I saw a child having a highly charged emotional moment, the words that came from Mom were, “Stop that, your embarrassing Mommy!” This was quickly followed with a threat toward the child’s ass end when the episode continued. I could get into that, asking was the threat of violence because the child was acting up or because mom was embarrassed? But that is not for today.
Caring what people think could be as subtle as “I am sorry my house is a mess.” This begs the question, are you here to see the house or me? These lists can go on and on. Trust me these have impacted me in the past, I would question myself in so many ways when I thought I was being judged or had the potential, to be judged by others (I was likely judging myself). I still work on this and likely will for a long time, maybe forever. Here are a couple of examples of my ego getting in the way. A year or so ago they would have almost crippled me or made me make a poor decision.
I started a new job with a truly amazing organization. The job is perfect for so many reasons. One thing, which came to mind about how others would perceive me, was in today’s electronic world. What was I going to do about my Linked-In profile? You see, the job title is Group Manager not anything close to the Vice President title I last held. I was worried I would have to explain why the title change, I was worried people might think I lost the edge after taking ten months off. I was having these thoughts and I am honestly someone who does not care what title they hold. Imagine if that did matter to me.
My ego, and not the good ego was getting in the way, I remembered all the interviews I had conducted where there was a change in title that did not fit the norm of society. I remembered asking the question to the perspective employee, “What happened here?” as if it was a red flag, and not something good. If I were asked this question, would it leave me vulnerable? Saying that I had hit a rough patch and I needed to refocus, really look inwards and re-establish who I was, and what I wanted to be. The dumb thing about those thoughts is I don’t want to work for companies or people where they see taking a step back as a problem. Where personal growth is questioned against there own belief structure of what is right or wrong. It still bothered me though. It took me a week to update my profile, when I did it was another freeing moment. One that I will not, soon forget.
Another instance, involved someone I know asking me a question, or more making a statement in the form of a question (I love that passive aggressive BS). I was in a group setting and talking with this person they were asking me about my life since we had not seen each other in a long while. I thought they were asking out of genuine interest and care. I did not go into my personal journey with them as their questions were around the new job, and surface stuff. The question/statement they made after me telling them that I was going back to work was, “So you’re finally getting your shit together then?” I wish it were said in humour.
Do you know those moments where thousands of things cross your mind in a split second, all the things you want to say, some actions you want to take like getting into their personal space in a not so nice way. That’s what happened to me, and instead of saying “Go Fuck Yourself,” I followed it up with, “You could say that but I feel my shit’s always been together.” My ego or caring what people think had me question a few things like, if they thought this who else did? This time what others thought was a spilt second, not weeks, months or years. I may have even tried to prove to them that I truly had it together, to seek their approval. But, I did not J.
Here is the rub, if they do judge you or talk about you, really what the fuck does it matter? Does that not mean you are holding free rental space in their head? Does it not mean they are really projecting their own insecurities or lastly they feel so little of themselves that judging, hurting you is showing their own weakness? We don’t have to take that shit on, if we do, don’t make it permanent, or they win!
These blogs continue to be a way for me to remove the masks that ego has placed. Everyday I answer a tough question on how I am feeling and honestly answer it. I post to Facebook and Twitter good things when they are actually good, not when my life is shit and I am trying to prove to the world what ever it is that I am trying to prove or make myself believe, or have others believe about me. Filling in the timelines with fake happy, when I am in pain.
Lastly, I am now able to look at moments that are great, even when followed by some crap. I am learning everyday to remember the good moments the ones that may only be an hour long in a 24-hour period. Sure, I still invite the ghosts of yesterday to come and sit. Sure, I let them in from time to time and have them stay a little longer than I hoped. That is the problem with PTSD and depression; I have trained myself to invite ghosts. However, I am re-training myself to also ask them to leave one moment, one thought and one day at a time.
Keep Chasing Those Cars.
With Love, Respect and Admiration