In such an ego-driven, self-promoting world, it’s often hard to remember that the world doesn’t revolve around us.
We are not at the center of everyone’s thoughts.
And yet, we feel anxious, depressed and paranoid that other people are “out to get us”.
After spending a lot more time around people recently, and observing my own feeling and reactions to what they do, say and how they “appear” to be, I’ve realized something:
Most of us, to differing degrees, are self-centric.
But don’t get this confused with the word “self-centered” which carries narcissistic connotations. No, self-centric people are not necessarily conceited or self-serving, but they are self-absorbed in the sense that they believe the world revolves around them.
Many times I’ve found myself possessing this trait, and I bet after reading this article, you’ll discover the same truth for yourself. However, the point of doing inner work is to consciously evolve to the point of becoming aware, and if you are interested in improving the quality of your life, then facing and accepting the hard facts about ourselves is imperative!
1. You are not alone
In terms of your problems, tragedies, pains and struggles, you are not alone. When we are sad, depressed or grieving, our emotions have a way of hijacking our minds, causing us to firmly and indisputably believe that we are the only people in the whole world suffering our issues. Our focus becomes very narrow when we experience an influx of emotions, so it is very hard to see (and believe) that there are thousands, perhaps even millions of other people feeling what we feel, thinking what we think, and experiencing what we experience.
On the internet, in particular, you hear a lot of people proclaiming “I thought I was alone!” when discovering a group of people who think, feel, experience or behave the way they do – as if that is surprising!
No matter what problem you have, or how you feel, you are never alone, because others share that experience with you. Even though you may not know who they are or where they come from, in a collective sense you are never alone with your problems.
2. No one is out to “get you”
Perhaps one of the most navel-gazing habits a person can have is to believe that “everyone is out to get them.” Essentially, this deeply held belief stems from a victim complex mentality that feels as though everyone – whether stranger, colleague, or family member – is intent on ruining one’s happiness, success, social status and/or life in general.
Of course, there are the odd psychopathic/sociopathic people who do genuinely gain pleasure in making others suffer, but most people aren’t this way. The truth is, most people are self-absorbed and so any nasty or hurtful things they say or do is almost always a reflection of them – of their inner hurt, irritation, disappointment, pain or anger.
If someone treats you badly, this is almost invariably a projection of their own flaws and inadequacies onto you. As Don Miguel Ruiz states in his classic “The Four Agreements“:
Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally … Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.
People are too busy caring about themselves to systematically destroy your life. You just aren’t that important to them.
3. People aren’t out to “judge everything you do”
Sure, there are seemingly judgmental people in the world, but as I mentioned before, the way people treat you is a reflection of how they treat themselves. Really, people are too concerned with worrying what others will think of them – worrying what you will think of them – for them to really give more than a couple of seconds thinking about you.
Thinking that everyone is judging you all the time is a typical self-centric paranoid belief of socially anxious people, but the truth is that most people feel this way in their lives, to varying degrees.
Whether sitting on a train facing a row of strangers, talking to a new group of colleagues, speaking up in a classroom, or going out without makeup on, we all have some kind of hidden fear of what others will think of us. The reality is … everyone is worrying about the exact same problem as you! Why do you think most people adhere to the pre-established rules and structures of society, even if they don’t make sense? Because of their fear of being judged!
We are not so special in the eyes of others. Remember that.
At the end of the day … people are too busy caring about themselves to really care about you. This is not said to depress you, but to open your eyes to a liberating truth. If you don’t believe me, try paying close attention to the next conversations you have, or try scrolling through the personal page of a friend or acquaintance on a social network site like Facebook or Twitter. What will you find? Answer: that is centers mostly around them – what they think, what they feel, what experiences they had – all in an attempt to be liked, accepted and understood. This is completely natural.
So next time you’re afraid of criticism, or of what another will think of you, remember that you are not so special. Remember that everyone makes assumptions about everyone else, but no one really knows the real you like you know yourself.