Ahhh, we’ve all been there. That encounter or relationship that is meaningful to us and we’re trying to figure out what it might mean to the other person. Are they interested in us, like we are in them? What does my boss really think of me? Is my best friend going to forgive me? When we are unsure what the other person thinks, but their perception of us matters to us, it can lead to swirling thoughts that just won’t stop.
We find ourselves turned into scientist and psychologist, analyzing each word, sentence, look, gesture, unspoken words and bits of non-verbal communication. We replay the encounter in a never ending loop. Sometimes we have a friend we ask for help, asking them to brainstorm with us and help us reach a conclusion. I’m not sure of your experience, but if I look back on the times this has happened to me, I can see that no matter how many weeks, months or years I may have interactions with this person I have never been able to reach a conclusion that left me firmly knowing exactly what they think of me. So I learned not to worry about it.
We have convinced ourselves that knowing and understanding what someone else thinks of us will improve our lives. We tell ourselves that whether we figure out that they like us or not does not matter as much as knowing. If we know then we can know how to move forward. It can help us decide how to behave. But does it actually improve our life? Personally, I don’t think so.
If we are willing to change our behavior once we know what someone thinks of us we are not being our authentic self. But what if our authentic self is imperfect and if we know what they think it can help us know where we need to make improvements? Well, I can promise you right now, you are imperfect and you have many improvements you can make. But I can guarantee you that statement applies to every single person that has ever walked this earth, with the exception of Jesus Christ. It applies to that love interest, your friend, your parents, teachers and bosses. Everyone. You may believe others are better than you (perhaps we’ll blog about that another time), but it is unlikely you believe others are truly perfect. Even if you don’t like your authentic self, it’s still the best self to choose.
Being ourselves is sustainable. It is easier to be us than it is to be anyone else. We can fake it for awhile and pretend we love fashion so that friend that loves fashion wants to spend time with us. But some day, they’re gonna stop by while you’re in pajamas at 2:00 in the afternoon. If you are not as interested in fashion as your friend is, every time you do something that revolves around fashion, it’s going to feel like work. Parting with the money for a designer bag is going to feel like a huge sacrifice for you, whereas for your friend it’s going to feel like a thrill. When we are searching out others opinions of us so that we can make changes we are choosing a difficult road. Perhaps an impossible one. Growth, development and changing ourselves is ongoing with life; it’s a constant. And sometimes it’s really difficult, like quitting an addiction. But if we are choosing that change for ourselves, based on our own wishes and desires for our future, we stand a much higher chance of success then if we are making that change to get the approval of someone else.