“When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.” -Miguel Ruiz
Years back, in a group therapy circle, I met a man who provided an interesting definition for paranoia: It's when you're sitting in the bleachers at a football game, watching the players in a huddle, convinced they're talking about you.
While I've never suspected professional athletes were secretly laughing at me between plays, I have taken responsibility for a lot of things that likely had nothing to do with me.
Just recently, I emailed a friend of mine from back home, only to question myself when days went by and she didn't respond. I wondered if I'd somehow written the wrong thing. Or if there was something offensive I'd done previously that I completely forgot about.
I created all types of needless drama in my head about her opinion of me, when in all reality, it's highly unlikely her slow response time had anything to do with me. People get busy, and most of us have way too many online accounts to check on a given day.
Even if her actions did have something to do with me, it was pointless speculate about it. She'd either tell me what was bothering her, or she wouldn't–and if she didn't, it was on her, not me.
I don't know if it's possible to be immune to other people's opinions and actions. Because we value our relationships, we care about what those people think. But there is a difference between respecting what people think and worrying ceaselessly about what they think of us.
As a recovering people-pleaser, I often need to remind myself that what really matters is what I think of me–and that I'll think far more of me if I resist the urge to create stories about other people's actions.
Today if you start reading into something another person has done and stressing about his opinion of you, remember: There's a distinct possibility it's not about you. Until you know, it's pointless to worry about it.
Photo by hildgrim