I hear friends, my clients, and sometimes, I hear myself saying the phrase, “I don’t want them to think…”
Let’s take the time to address a few points about gossip before we get stressed out by the thoughts of others so we can be better leaders:
Don’t Try To Be A Mind Reader Most of the time, people don’t even tell us their deep personal thoughts about us. And, generally, people will tell you if something is life shattering-ly wrong.
People will give off physical signals if they’re upset or if something is “wrong”. Focus on the signals and respond to them. Try not to be a mind reader or imagine what they’re thinking. And don’t even presume that they’re upset at you. Most of the time, they’re worrying about something else and not even you. Ask them what’s bothering them and if it’s something you’ve done, then figure out a way to make them feel better – your own feelings of guilt will automatically resolve themselves (if you let them).
Thinking Differently Do we really want people to think of us exactly as we think of ourselves? That doesn’t sound very interesting and heck, when I’m having a down day, it would serve me better knowing that others thought differently.
People naturally think and perceive differently. It’s just a fact of life. Doesn’t mean you have to like what they think and you most certainly don’t have to accept their opinions, either.
You’ll Grow Old And Forget About It One of the best pieces I heard as a child was, “You’ll grow old and forget about it.”
People seem to remember the things that we don’t remember of ourselves… if they even remember what we’ve done. People always bring up memories of me that I’ve long since forgotten. It might be startling to some, but it’s also reassuring that we’re focusing on just one memory of ourselves while others are remembering what we didn’t even notice or remembered. Which brings me to my next point.
Three Versions of the Self That’s what I think when I start to worry about what I think others *might* be thinking about me. We can only get hung up on the thoughts of others for only so long, especially when we realize that there are three versions of ourselves.
1. The person we think we are. 2. The person the other thinks of us. 3. And the person we actually are.
Take Responsibility And Relax About It
My mom always told me, “You know what’s right and you know what’s wrong,” and she always seemed to leave conversations about my actions at that. That’s some powerful stuff as we’re held responsible for our actions. Sure, people might not agree with what we do, or even like us for that matter, but if we’re sure that what we’ve done was the best we could have done in the moment with what we had, well… what’s the point of all the worrying of others thoughts?
Woulda, Coulda, Shouldas Life is full of woulda, coulda, shouldas. There are a million things we’d like to change about our behaviors, the things we said, and the ways we thought about things. As I mentioned before, we can only dwell so long on the things we could have done before life is asking us to act for the next big thing. Stop worrying about what you could have done and start acting now to change the ways you respond to life now.
People Are Generally Self Centered Which brings me to my final point, the only person who thinks about us the most is ourself. At the end of the day, we’re totally obsessed with ourselves and our lives. Sure, we might be thinking about others, but not without thinking how it’s tied to ourselves (our children, our friends, our co-workers, or family members).
If you’re worrying about what co-workers or friends might be thinking, odds are, they’re too busy worrying about how they’re going to make it through the day. Sure, they might give you a quick thought and would even judge you, but to say that you don’t do the same about others is naive.
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