I thought about someone who was convinced people were talking about him and was avoiding many situations and relationships because of it. I widened my view a bit and considered how this person – and others – tend to easily go to that place, assuming others are talking about them. Because assuming others are thinking or talking about us is tough. And while we might be accurate at times, most of the time, we’re wrong.
Sure, we all remember those middle school moments when the group of peers were looking and whispering, but is that the same situation now? I’m not going to say that never happens with adults, because it does, but we don’t have to jump to that assumption immediately. Instead, we need to figure out what is going on.
Are we paranoid? Have we done something that, whether we want to admit it or not, prompts a small amount of paranoid panic when we catch others’ glances or imagine how people will respond when we run into them? Do we create a touch of self-fulfilling prophecy because of the glances we give those people when we see them? Do we project what we might think of others onto what they might think of us?
Or, are we so consumed with ourselves that we can’t imagine people not talking about us? Perhaps we can’t get outside our own perspectives.
Finally, there is the possibility that people are actually talking about us, but there’s a valid reason. And we could actually grow through it if we just deal with it and engage with others and have honest, humble conversations.
Sit with it.
Instead of getting consumed with what others are thinking about you, sit with it and consider why you think the way you do and how you can engage others and work through the truth of the situation. I’m not suggesting we let what others think determine what we think of ourselves, but we also need truth checks. Just because we’re okay with ourselves doesn’t exclude us from the need to listen to others and filter their perspectives and experiences through truth – not just our preferred reality but actual truth. When we defensively tell everyone else to deal with “it” or move on with their lives, we might miss out on some important interactions that will help us grow and some essential relationships that we will regret we severed.
Sit with it. Reflect. Humble yourself. Reach out. Every situation and relationship won’t work out, but the effort you’re willing to put into it will speak volumes about your priorities, respect, and character.