I’m sure you’ve heard the sage advice to not worry about what others think of you. Someone has even effectively put it all nice and blunt, perfectly phrasing it to fit inside a fortune cookie with these words:
What others think of you is none of your business!
It’s great advice. And you know what? It relates to anyone in your life, even those close loved ones. Even for those chosen few whose opinions of you matter the most. I’m talking about the ones whose admiration has filled you with the warmest feelings, and whose trash talking can cut your heart into pieces.
When it takes that turn, and there’s trash talking, well then you have to fight back on that right? They can’t trash talk you! They can’t have the wrong idea about you!! Especially if they had the right idea about you not too long ago! You know, back when you walked on water in their eyes. When they called you a good person, and oh so handsome. They can’t suddenly say you are a bad person, and then list all the reasons why you’re so bad for anyone to hear!! Oh NoNoNO!
Them’s fightin’ words baby!
Well in thinking about our fortune cookie advice from earlier, I want to ask a question.
If it’s none of your business what others think of you, then what if defending yourself was just a waste of energy?
I’m not saying you should be a doormat. I’ve tried that. I have laid down and been walked all over with grand hopes of being thought of as a saint, as a real “prince among men”. It doesn’t work that way. A Saint? Hardly. Prince? HA! When you let yourself be a doormat, you only end up being thought of as a beat up ol’ doormat. And frankly you can find much more appropriate and cuter options to wipe your feet with at Target!
I’m also not saying that you are above being a jerk. If you know you have been a jerk, then apologize.
What I am saying is that you don’t need to defend yourself when it seems that someone has the wrong idea about you.
Let me give an example about what I mean.
Let’s say that someone was in a relationship that was going really well, and the other person really liked our “someone”. Then let’s fast forward a bit, and say this relationship suddenly goes sour, and now the other person no longer has such a nice opinion of our “someone”.
All of these pronouns are getting confusing.
Why don’t we just say that “someone’s” name is Fox Michaels, and the other person is You. (hypothetically speaking of course!)
So when things were going well, you really liked Fox, and said lots of nice things about him and said lots of nice things to him, and it felt really great to him.
But then things got complicated for whatever reason, and now You don’t like Fox so much anymore. You think he is to blame for All of The Problems. You’ve got examples to back you up, and to cap it off, you’ve got perfect names to demonize him.
The thing is, Fox over there in his corner doesn’t actually know that “Fox Michaels” that you’re so mad at. In all honesty, he didn’t even fully know that “Fox Michaels” you loved who could walk on water and was all “oh so handsome” and stuff.
That’s all your story.
What my point is, is that Fox should honor story, but Fox doesn’t know all of the details of the story. Details that only live in your mind. And so he definitely, most assuredly, has no reason to get defensive, because you are absolutely right about your story of “Fox Michaels“.
You see, you made the story up! So you get owner’s rights.
Now put yourself in Fox’s shoes. Think about a relationship in your life that suddenly goes wrong, and now the other person is attacking your “character”. Wouldn’t it be powerful, and probably much less painful, if you tried to not to be defensive about it? Instead, what if your response was to just be present? What if you just listened with love, hearing them out, and realizing there is no need to defend or to retaliate, because it’s just their opinion?
Do you know what happens if you don’t act the part they are writing for you? Do you know what happens if you don’t hold up your part of keeping that story active?
What happens is, the story disintegrates back into the nothing that it came from. You don’t have to fight it. Fighting the story keeps it alive. It certainly gives the other person further ammunition and proof of your “assholery”.
Sorry, I didn’t have a better word for that. Blame Google.
(That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!)
But truly. If you don’t act like the asshole they are describing, then that “asshole” just isn’t you.
Recently I saw Byron Katie on YouTube ask an audience: How many of you have eaten a banana?
Most people giggled and raised their hand.
Then she asked: Where’s your proof?
More giggles, but no answer.
She made an incredible point. There was not one of those allegedly eaten bananas in sight. All that the audience members had were their memories. All they had were the images in their minds of a banana they ate. And they can say the banana tasted sweet, or tasted rotten. That’s their story, and no one can prove it otherwise.
So if it’s not your story, then why waste time defending against it or for it?
Like the story we’re saying You have about Fox. If it’s your story, then Fox can either participate, by fighting it or affirming it; OR Fox can decide that he wants to live in his own story, and let you be mad at your version of Fox, while he goes on his merry way.
Defense is the first act of war. Why don’t you try instead to respond with love?
Why not try loving yourself despite what they think, while also lovingly honoring their right to think whatever they want? Because they’re gonna think whatever they want anyway.
There is much love here for you. ~FoxZM