Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Needless suffering is an old familiar companion of mine. I never believed my suffering was needless, but now I look back and see that I gathered a lot of sadness and anger based on the opinions of other people. At the time, (through most of my adult life, in fact,) I couldn’t think of anything — not anything — more important than the acceptance and approval of my family, my friends, my co-workers and bosses, and the general human population. The negative judgment of me from any of these directions automatically reenforced my own feelings of imperfection, inadequacy, and hopelessness.
I wish I could remember what happened to start me feeling that way, but the longer I work with a psychologist, the more I believe that the why of a thing is less important than the what and how — what do I need to replace those feelings, and how do I get it? The most important change I made was simply to talk the talk — to act like I was free of others’ opinions until I knew I was, and then to act on that knowledge. I found that, almost immediately, my talk became my walk, and I truly understood that what others think of me is irrelevant to me, even though those beliefs may seem a little selfish. I learned the value of selfishness along with mastering the lesson of self-worth and self-confidence.
People who have known me for a very long time find my confession of low self-confidence during those years somewhat unbelievable. I projected the image of a busy, together girl, but inside, I quaked a bit at the imagined thoughts behind the eyes of others. More than a couple of times in my life, I was faced with a decision — stay and face the opinions of others, or leave and try to start over somewhere else. I usually chose the second option.
But then, I finally understood that others’ thoughts of me were products of their own creations, and truly had no effect on me at all. This is the old premise, “No one can hurt me unless I let them”, at work. With that comprehension came the freedom to stop worrying, stop suffering over others’ opinions, and to begin to create my own reality. From always being miserable, I became unusually content, and even with brief setbacks into sadness or frustration, I never feel that helpless sense of vulnerability as strongly, or for very long at all. Just another small miracle in this beautiful process of change.