By Jayalalita and Michelle Courtney Berry
Each day, our lives contain numerous opportunities for joy, connection, bliss, solitude, creativity, grief, and reflection. Why do we so often miss tuning in to ourselves, connecting with what we truly need or desire?
Far too many of us are consumed with self-recrimination and worry about what other people think of us. We become contortionists, bending and shifting to please others. We rehearse our lines, hoping for applause. We grovel and grin (and sometimes bear it!). We painstakingly review (3 in the morning anyone?) whatever we've said or done that others may not approve of.
The sheer labor involved in managing the opinions, outbursts, judgments, expectations, and disappointments of others can become quite daunting; it's time-consuming and exhausting. Sometimes we become so invested in other people's thoughts about us (real or imagined) that we lose ourselves in the process. And still it remains that someone doesn't like us, someone gets mad at us temporarily, someone cuts us off completely.
Let's agree that we just can't get through most days, let alone a human lifetime, without annoying, offending, betraying, or otherwise pissing other people off. Even when we live as kindly and consciously as possible, others will still get upset with our choices; yes, they will even judge us.
Go ahead: try to make your way in the world without offending or alienating someone. ...
You'd be the first to pull it off.
How can you live authentically or have any room for spontaneity when you plot and scheme to hold the good opinion of others?
So here's a challenge. What if you were to drop any thought of worrying about what others think of you? Can you seek first to please yourself?
Can you go for what rings true to you, without seeking one iota of approval from another human being?
What if you caught yourself entertaining or trying to please another and you simply reminded yourself, It's none of my business what they think of me?
Look at what you're willing to do or not do because you fear being rude or unkind. Notice that being dishonest and failing to set appropriate boundaries that are right for you is so much more unkind — especially toward yourself.
Bring this to everything. Consider never again being offended (anxious, angry, frustrated, alarmed) when someone doesn't answer your email, voice mail, Facebook message, or text. Whatever you're making up that they're thinking about you is in your head, not theirs.
It's a practice. Catch yourself worrying about what they think, and bring yourself back to you. No self-flagellation. No discussion. Catch yourself in their opinion and come back to yours. Are you in good standing with yourself?
Whose Good Standing?
Seek only to stay in good standing with yourself. As long as you send out those tentacles to test for what others think of you, you cannot be truly free to hold your highest vision for your life and move consistently in that direction.
If you live your life fixated on holding the good opinion of others, you're going down a path fraught with tension and unhappiness.
How often do you fail yourself by doing what you don't truly or honestly want to do in the name of pleasing (or not angering) another — also sometimes known as being nice? How many times until you unexpectedly become rude or unkind (aka, not nice) when your resentment wells up spontaneously and has its say?
What others think of you cannot hold you back. What others think has no bearing (none!) on your chances for living authentically, in ever more graceful alignment.
Communing with the Divine
Notice the little, possibly fleeting thoughts that come to you implying that you're currently out of favor with the Universe (or someone in it). See such thoughts as an invitation to correct where you're out of favor with yourself.
Grab this opportunity to harness your power of interpretation. You're taking something as evidence that you're in some kind of fall from grace (of whatever magnitude).
Reinterpret! You can't possibly be less divine or less worthy now than in your most glorious, most connected hour.
When you don't feel connected, the operative word is feel. You are always connected. So connect — anyway you see how. Connect to your breath. Feel your feet on the earth. Look into the sky, the same shifting sky that has opened to you all these years.
Call or write one person who you know will receive your words with love. Look into the eyes of a stranger with total openness, wanting nothing in return.
Do this for yourself in the mirror. You're connected.
But connected never means having everyone's approval all the time. Will you stay in good standing with yourself? Answer yes only if you wish to be free.
Jayalalita (aka, Jaya the Trust Coach) is a personal-growth coach who guides people out of suffering and into living with clarity and intention. Visit her at jayathetrustcoach.com or facebook.com/jayathetrustcoach.
Michelle Courtney Berry holds a graduate degree in Communication Strategy from Cornell University and is an internationally certified critical incident stress debriefer, Reiki Master Teacher, and life coach who focuses on the links between image, work, and stress management. Find her on the web at: michellecourtneyberry.com and reikigoddess.org.
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