When we get stuck in the realm of caring about “what others think about us”, we’re actually lying to ourselves by placing the blame on others because the real issue is deeper. Projecting what “others might think about us” usually means that we also have a judgmental spirit towards others, which really stems out of a judgmental spirit towards ourselves. Let me tell a story to demonstrate my point:
A couple of years ago, my family arrived at a beach house to spend some time with some friends. One of the teen girls came up to the house from the beach and spent about an hour with us and then when everyone decided to go to the beach she wanted us to wait for her because she was going to change her bathing suit. When I asked her why, she said she didn’t want the people at the beach to think she only had one bathing suit. Thinking this was ridiculous, I asked her, “Do you really think that even if someone remembered you from the beach this morning and saw you in the same bathing suit, they’d think it was your only bathing suit? And even if they did, so what, do you really care that much about what people think about you?” She shrugged and feebly answered, “Well…” I countered, “Is that what you would think about a person who came back to the beach with the same bathing suit on?” “Yeah!” she said without hesitation. “Aha!” I said, “So what you’re really saying is that’s what you would think, and not necessarily what anyone else is thinking, right?” “Well, I guess so” she admitted. “So,” I pointed out, “wouldn’t that [type of judgmental thought] be on you (your issue)?” Her rebuttal was to go to the other room to change her bathing suit!
The basic root I want to bring to light is once again, a self-worth issue. If we look at the issue as a plant, we can see the root as being self-loathing manifesting as critical, acerbic thoughts and words about ourselves. To make ourselves feel better, we might use those same thoughts and words to put others down (the stem). Carried another step further, because we are thinking those thoughts about others, now we can just imagine what they’re thinking/saying about us (the leaf). The eventual “fruit” is doing all kinds of crazy things to “appease” others to keep them from thinking those imagined thoughts, to make ourselves feel better, to make us feel worthy – and THAT’S THE BIGGEST LIE OF ALL – because it NEVER makes us feel worthy and so the cycle repeats!!
Now, I know none of the readers of this blog do this, but I admittedly have “grown” this bitter “plant” from time to time and it takes some quiet time and re-reading the words of life spoken over me to remind me of my true identity as a beautiful, worthy, honoring woman to pluck out that plant before it becomes a full-blown garden.
Also, I now can recognize that when another person is critical, it’s probably because they are really hurting from self worth issues; now I get the opportunity to speak into them the words of life that they’re starving for. I’ve planted a different plant; one that produces a different, better fruit. I’ve become the constant gardener for the betterment for the communal “us”.
You can do this, and the truth is you probably already do. Yeah, I’m blooming, you’re blooming, let’s get this garden planted!
-Tessa L. Charles