Get Over Your Bad Self. It’s Not About You.

We walk around self-absorbed.

He wasn’t very responsive over lunch. What’s gotten into him?
I’ve been so sick. I expected her to show more concern. How insensitive.
She’s kept away from my family and made me feel judged. How rude.
I won’t say what I really feel because he would think less of me.

We need to get over our self.

Our life is all about us, but their lives are not. Remember, as soon as we step outside and start interfacing with others, we have two people talking about the same thing from his own perspective, experiences, biases. Let’s look at the way this autobiographical listening plays out when we feel slighted or offended.

He just mumbled during lunch? Maybe he had a headache.  Maybe your illness is too much for her because it replays Mom’s battle with cancer. Or she’d wanted to show more support but has been sick herself. What if some bad news had come her way? Think about the things that get a rise out of you or cause you to withdraw. These triggers tap buried wounds, insecurity, or pride which like to feed one another. Though I’ve attracted plenty of them over the years, I don’t do very well around needy people, those with fragile egos. Though my childhood could’ve been a lot happier, I was well grounded in parental affirmation. I need to be more compassionate toward those whose wounds from childhood still drive them to behave in ways that exasperate me.

A few years ago, someone returned my kindness with a persistent cold shoulder. My husband saw that she felt she didn’t measure up to me. She later confessed her sense of inadequacy under my shadow. I was baffled. Who ever said she had to mother like me? We are mothers in our own way, give our child what no one else can. She was 35 and still hadn’t picked a lane on who she was. Every time we talked things out the drawn-out wrestling match found me wiping the emotional vomit of her past off my face. My last words to her were one of peace and genuine well-wishing but for the sake of my health I had to cut off ties. There is probably a little delusionary confidence to this but I usually don’t take things personally. When this woman looked at me, it was not through a magnifying lens but a movie screen where I was just one character among thousands traipsing across the screen – many from her past. And the star of the film was not me, but her grand self.

To recognize we’re part of a bigger drama doesn’t justify our wrong. You well may have offended Jenny. But even though you really owe an apology, her response will likely still trace back to dormant issues – because Terry next to her would’ve laughed off your quip. In issues that spring from abandonment or abuse, the debt remains greater than perpetrator or victim usually can handle. But understanding that the person we care for acted out of the dysfunction and poor parenting he, she inherited releases the steam valve so we don’t keep cooking in our anger. I’m not talking about exonerating those who commit heinous crimes.

So, what about what people think of you? Oh, you swear they will think funny of you for what you did, said, or wore? You really have to keep in good standing with John? Do you think your classmates or coworkers will remember your project three years from now? Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less (C.S. Lewis). And trust me. You are on people’s minds a lot less than you think you are. Know why?

They’re busy worrying about what others think of them.

177 thoughts on “Get Over Your Bad Self. It’s Not About You.

  1. This is, without doubt, one of the BEST entries I’ve ever read on a blog. Wise and put so well. This is one I’ll go back to when I need a stern talking-to. It is something that would benefit us all to remember.

  2. “Do you think your coworkers will remember your project three years from now? Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less (C.S. Lewis). And trust me. You are on people’s minds a lot less than you think you are.” No truer words have been written…well said! Love this post!

  3. What you have written is correct. Lots of people are self absorbed. That is quite common. So sad but true. And it is best to cut ties when the other person is always unloading their garbage.

    I had no idea that commenters email someone who they think should have responded asap. I comment in some blogs here and there and don’t expect an answer. Some bloggers, as you’ve written have a full plate and don’t have the time. Other bloggers don’t answer since they don’t realize or care to know that replying is a courtesy.

    • They shouldn’t be blogging if they won’t bother responding when someone took the time. My plate is overflowing.

      I guess I wasn’t clear. Was addressing two matters. The first was just email from readers. I couldn’t get back to them instantly. The second, the expectation I know some have for me to get back to them when they’ve left all their likes.

      I appreciate your time, Y!!

      • No need to respond to this comment again, okay? I just read that you and you son are ill. I pray and wish for each of you, a speedy return to good health.

        Just a note here that sometimes I forget to hit the like button. But this is my policy. I NEVER LIKE a post unless I comment. What is the point? If it’s good enough to like then a post is worthy of a comment. But I’m sorry to say that I do forget the like button as I did in your post but went back and clicked. 🙂 ~yvonne

    • Hope you get this. Computer acting up.

      You’re too much, Y. We’ve been hit hard. Can’t describe what it’s been like. Not left the house in days. Thx for everything. So so sweet.

      Off to bed soon.

  4. I like this, it ain’t all about me, me, me, it is about how I treat, and respect others and extend the understanding to others that I want others to have towards me. Praying for ya+++

  5. Once we get over the belief we are perfect ourselves we come to the realization its a general human condition. We may personality wise have issues with another, but once we realize our own imperfection we will be more generous in our treatment of others and even begin to notice the good traits in them we do not possess.

  6. Years ago I heard something from the Spirit that I’ve never forgotten: Benefit of the doubt. Simple words, but when applied can be a powerful antidote to oversensitivity. Considering what the lady in the check-out line (you know, the one who was rude to you) might be going through – giving her a smile which costs you NOTHING – who knows but that might completely turn her day around! I try to remember this as I walk through the world, bouncing off of others. Sometimes I’m the one who needs the smile. 🙂

    • Thanks. I switched gears last minute and postponed the next post at OM’s How Not To Write and replaced it with this. At the single feedback from Kate, the first comment that came in. Amazing what we do for one another here.

      I hadn’t wanted to duplicate many posts over there who follow both me and OM.

  7. Hugely wise words, as usual. I could honestly talk about this forever as its something that comes up all the time in life, but I’ll limit myself to just one observation! Your friend who saw your mothering style as a judgement on her own rang very true for me. I have decided to stay single and not have children. This is absolutely the right decision for me and one I am wholly comfortable with. It is not a judgement on people who are in partnerships and have children! I’m truly astonished as to how many people see my life choice as a direct judgement on them. I find it really quite bizarre that people project such a judgmental attitude on to me, when I would never dream of thinking that my way of living is the right way for everyone. I’ve still not worked out the best way to deal with it when it comes up, but your post was really helpful as I try and work it out!

    • perhaps you are a mirror,
      and your actions
      reflect their own internal self-judgements.
      You are become a scapegoat
      for a buried regret,
      unsure decision,
      the echo of another judge.

    • So interesting. I would never take the path you’ve chosen for yourself as a judgmt on me. But there’s something to be said for this, realistically. About 5 yrs ago when my boy was a wee thing growing out of babyhood, a mom offered us the snack for her child. I politely declined. In that moment, I sensed she felt judged. I have a reputation for packing all my son’s food, organic and fresh. My response was in no way an intended indictment against what she fed her daughter but anywhere we stake our ground, we are naturally drawing boundaries between us and others. You ARE saying NO to something or someone by saying YES to something or someone.

      We ended up moving to a community that fit us so beautifully. I never imagined – or expected – the respect I got for the way I raised my son. But get this, the moms were so cool. The ones who feed their kids processed food have no hang-ups giving it to them around me LOL. They are simply who they are, don’t complicate things about who I am. Simply let me be when I don’t let my boy eat certain things at parties. That woman was part of this group. I learned her respect for me was mixed with a lethal dose of jealousy. She left.

      • You’re right, each positive decision does imply a rejection of an alternative somewhere along the way. I guess some people see it as a rejection of themselves, rather than a rejection of a decision they’ve taken as the right decision for me to take, which is all it is. I’m so glad you found a community that allows everyone to just be themselves!

      • On rejection: you put it so well.

        “I’m so glad you found a community that allows everyone to just be themselves!”

        For a moment, I thought you were referring to this blog community. =) Bc when I started out, I realized I wanted to talk with everyone, not just those who held to my worldview and stone-hard convictions on certain things. On occasion I’ll post something on my faith but it has unfolded most rewardingly here. Glad you’ve pulled up a seat at the Roundtable. =)

  8. Spot on. Life is so much simpler when we stop second guessing ourselves and others! From my own experience, it’s when we are not happy within ourselves that we let our minds run away with all that silliness. If we are happy, when tend to let others be, and stop worrying about what they think of us. Thanks, and hope you feel better soon! x

  9. You hit the nail on the head! In fact you hit it so hard, it needs surgery. On a serious note, this problem that you have written about is like a disease from where I come from. People are in a constant battle to judge others or jump to uncalled for conclusions. And the rest of the times they are even more self-obsessed than a newborn baby. And babies have a valid excuse! Wonder what our’s is.

    • Funny you mention babies. Just after posting, I thought about how they are babies because they are the center of their universe. Seems many of us don’t grow up. Just age.

      Surgery. HA. Cool compliment. Thx.

  10. It is shocking,
    a true paradigm shift,
    for this one,
    who resides at the center –
    not of my own universe –
    but of the THE Universe.
    you people have emotions?
    I had never considered
    the players on this stage
    had backstories of their own –

      • Yes,
        Mostly in jest.
        Sometimes I wonder
        About my role,
        And yours.
        But. I can easily sit in the back,
        Realizing that I am NIR the center,
        Nor even always noticed.

      • Poetry certainly can obscure things. Well, you’ve been on mY radar. I didn’t mention this at first bc I didn’t feel it was necessary but I had planned to revisit before I heard from you again. And — you beat me to it.

        Too much going on right now. And in 8 diff directions. Let me try to stop coughing my lungs out first.

  11. it’s natural for everyone to think, “it’s me, isn’t i?” humans are on auto-pilot most of the time.

    i don’t judge people for this because i think we all do it – it happens to the best of us – at least from time to time. it’s good to remind ourselves, however, to get off this auto-pilot trip as best as we can.

    life is more enjoyable when we do.

  12. Thanks for a post that validates and encourages. I suspect all of us have so many other “irons in the fire”. I, for one, did not realize I needed to reply to comments and ask forgiveness when time constraints will prohibit. By the way, I don’t expect a reply!

  13. Reminds me of Fountainhead when someone asks Howard Roark,” …tell me what you think of me?”
    Roark replies “But I don’t think of you.” Wonderful post! 🙂

  14. I’ve found that most people accept me for who I am- partially because I accept them for who they are. The old Biblical quote, “Judge not lest you be judged,” comes to mind. That and karma.

    I also think practicing common courtesy goes a long ways in this world. Responding to someone who has spent time thinking about what you have said just makes good sense. –Curt

  15. if only people would understand or even comprehend what you mean by this:”…You are on people’s minds a lot less than you think you are. Know why? They’re busy worrying about what others think of them…..”

    So many waste their lives worrying what others think of them or will think of them and don’t realize that nobody has their shit together (well, majority doesn’t). Everybody else is more worried about themselves than you…

    This is a nice post…

  16. Oh Diane I know just what this is like to not be able to catch up with everyone sometimes. I had to duck out a few times last year due to family issues and again last week due to my laptop deciding to die on me, so catching up manically now, aaaaaargh! I hope you and your family are better soon and you are up and running, although I am in awe of this wonderful post and the issues you raise.

  17. I could write a book about this kind of thing, but it’s pointless as you have condensed it all into something full of insight, widsom and above all, humanity. Self-absorption is rampant, no? I lived a life of it, taken to deeper and darker levels. Not in a dramatic way. As an alcoholic, I tended to wear my self-absorption like a tight sweater – always scratching at me, and yet keeping me cozy. My self-absorption was one reason I drank (well, a strong one…ego has so many manifestations) – every little thing that was said or not said or insinuated or not insinuated or inferred or not inferred, etc. I took at full throttle as an attack on ME. If I had a blog back in the day, I would have been near-suicidal in my imagined slights that I was taking vis-a-vis no one commenting, or someone in particular not commenting / following back, etc. It would have been an internal blood bath, Diana!

    And that is the deal I do now – removing myself from attachment, dissipating imagined assualts on me, assuaging the idea of persecution. Coming at it all from love. Tolerance. In those examples you give, that is what I need to do on a regular basis to not only empathise and be of service in some way, but to maintain serenity. Calmness of mind and spirit. You know., that old woman in front of me at the grocery store isn’t taking her time to annoy me. A part of me may think that (oh ego, don’t you have anything better to do?), but I have to counter that with the major idea that it’s not all about *me*. What? How dare you say that! Oh, sorry ego. it’s just not. Once I come to see that people have bad days, that there may be something going on behind the scenes, that others might have battles of their own, and that I may be able to help in some small way, then all the noise starts to fade. I start to get right-sized and see things in a new light.

    That’s the struggle, and yet it gets easier the more I do it.

    Thank you for this, Diana…what a wonderful, insightful and poignant post. One of my favourites here.


    • I treasure every bit of your amazing past you leave with us, Paul. As painful and costly as it was for you to have experienced to be able to tell of it now, I love the blunt connection you make between self-centeredness and alcoholism. Shall we bet it applies to all addictions? And I appreciate deeply the long, long way you’ve climbed to reach the place of self-awareness (as of self-consciousness), and to keep battling gently not the voices of others you think you hear in your head but your own. Really, the distance you’ve come is breathtaking.

      I did almost go on (okay, go off. Except I have tried not to make this blog a platform for going off on things) about the whole not follow-back yada yada business but thought I said enough.

  18. I was told by a good girlfriend this week that “it’s not about you” in reference to me wanting to guard my heart against my sister who reached out to me after eight years of silence. As I prayed about the situation God showed me that my self-centered focus was but a 3 x 5 card on the vast canvas of his plan. It is a good perspective, one that get’s me out of the way of myself.

    I loved this post and think it is a must read for every blogger.

    • LOVE the answer to your prayer, Jeanne. I will be keeping that in mind for myself. Hope things work out with your sister. Wow – she reached out! And thanks dearly for the ongoing support.


  19. This is the first time I’ve visited your blog. Fabulous. Thank you for the great post. I particularly like the line: “Our life is all about us, but their lives are not.”

    You’re right, most people rarely spend time thinking about us. I had a co-worker once remind me: In the rare chance people are thinking about me — it’s still none of my business what they think (even if it is about me).

    • I believe TracesoftheSoul is among those who’ve quoted that too, here. =) I had a response to her. Thanks so much for the warm greeting. Thx for the follow and welcome to this awesome community.


  20. After a certain age most of us realize that pretty much nobody is actually thinking anything about us!
    After a certain age many women notice that they have become invisible to the majority of the population. (An angst filled passage in our life.)
    But, if we can accept that, life can become very comfortable, even a lot more fun.

  21. Wonderful reminder about not taking anything personally and so much of how we are reacted to /perceived has everything to do with the other’s inner life and filters- and vice versa. Good for you for practicing self-care– a very healthy way to engage with your robust community, Diana!

  22. Wonderful post, Diana! It’s so interesting that people tend to associate this topic with just teenagers and that is not the case! Yes, it’s true that as I got older, I stopped caring about what others thought of me, but there are so many adults who struggle with this issue. God is constantly reminding us that He should be our only judge and that He is our final judge. Knowing this truly helped me along the way. I also realized that the more I thought of others, the less I cared about what they thought of me. Great post.

  23. This is it!!!
    The most interesting piece of truth I’ve read all day. Gosh, you nailed it. Put me in my place too. 🙂

    We all do it, and it’s so not right. I have to make effort to be selfless. Practice makes perfect. The trouble for me is where giving and being used get crossed. And then there is my mouth… oh another subject for another day.
    Great post! I mean, beautifully, and unapologeticley, the truth!

  24. Thank you for expressing the things that I can only grumble to myself! As someone with a customer service oriented career, I know all too well of whom you speak. It truly is a first world problem. That’s why I love traveling in less developed countries so much.

  25. Great thoughts here! As I read, I found myself thinking about how remembering that “it’s not all about me” and learning to say “no” strategically must be related somehow.

    • HOW do you do that?? Show up when I plan to visit?? =)

      Of course they’re related. We have trouble saying no when we are not grounded in our own identity and are afraid of what the other will think of us.

      • I guess it’s a gift? At any rate, this year my New Years resolution is to say no more often, (and so be better grounded in my identity as a side benefit)! Last year my resolution was to drink more red wine and eat more chocolate. I’m still working on last year’s.

  26. (((((Hugs)))))

    I’ve been tripping over frozen pages on WordPress that won’t let me reply or search, but Google has helped some…and now I get to reblog and reply. 🙂 (see how I’m practicing my punctuation?)

    Such an inspiring awesome read!!

  27. Oh my word, Diana, This was an outstanding post. I remember last year at the media company I worked with, I graduated with just enough skill in all the production areas, directing, scriptwriting, producing, camera, art directing, make-up, wardrobe, lighting, grips (equipment handling and management), music and audio, to operate fairly efficiently in the company. The challenge was that I was amongst graduates of my year that excelled in various areas of the above. I was, however, an amazing equipment manager, script supervisor and a cameraman and editor. Our Executive Producer recognized everyone else’s skills at the expense of mine. Needless to say I learned through the year that, “I would rather be hated for who I am than be loved for who I am not.” I was celebrated at the end of the year as the most invaluable person, but far too few words of encouragement throughout.
    Therefore your post speaks volumes to me, especially now as I realize the truth of my being on people’s minds a lot less!

    Thanks again for this post.

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