Last week, I shared a rather long story about a particularly horrible road trip I had to endure.
And in that story, I pointed out some mistakes I made that really tripped me up on that trip.
Today, I want to dive a little deeper. Because you know what? All of those mistakes really came down to one thing: Caring way too much what other people think.
I mean, if this isn’t the malady of our time…
Putting too much emphasis on other people’s opinions is stopping you from doing things that you want to do or should be doing.
You’re probably thinking, “I mean, how can I not care what other people think? It’s all well and good to pretend like I don’t care, but it’s pretty much impossible to not actually care. Right? I have to see people every single day…”
I think there’s a big difference between caring what people think and choosing to let what people think affect you.
What I mean is: I know it can be really hard to block out people’s opinions or nasty comments (or even positive comments). But it is possible to choose to accept that those opinions are just that — opinions — and decide not to let them bother you.
So, let’s look at Mistake #1, which was not packing food.
I honestly thought that bringing my own food was rude. That people would stare at me or judge me or think I thought I was too good to eat what everyone else was eating.
And that was terrifying.
I’m just like you. I don’t want to be judged or made fun of. Believe it or not, I’m super sensitive. And I’m not just talking about my special snowflake of a digestive system.
I cried for about two hours the other day because a customer service representative was rude to me. (Okay, there was more to it than that, but you get the idea.)
You know what though?
People were going to form opinions and judgements whether I ate the food (like maybe they didn’t like my dress or thought I was chewing too loud), didn’t eat (oh no, new girl’s got an eating disorder), or brought the food I ate (who does she think she is?).
I’m not a psychologist or an anthropologist or a historian, but I’m pretty sure it’s natural for us to form opinions, snap though they may be.
And we have no control over that.
Repeat after me: I cannot control the opinions of others.
Doesn’t it stand to reason, then, that you shouldn’t place too much emphasis on those opinions?
Like, if there is nothing you can do about it, why worry? It’s not going to change anything.
You know what does? Choosing not to care about those opinions and choosing to do what makes you feel good instead.
Because, at the end of the day, you have control over that.
So, moving on to Mistake #3 — not suggesting a different restaurant.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am allergic to conflict. Which means suggesting a different option that might be met with static is not high on my to-do list.
But, honestly, does making a suggestion have to be combative?
Uhh, no. Offering an idea can be (should be?) totally calm, laid back, and easy going.
It’s all in the delivery.
Instead of, “Eww, no, I don’t want to go to some restaurant just so you can meet your daily eye candy quota,” try something a little gentler. Like, “I’ve heard really great things about this other place.” Or even just, “What about this place?”
You don’t have to diminish the opinions of other’s to state your own. (That was deep.)
True, your suggestion might not be met with open arms. But you’re actually better off, believe it or not, because you spoke up. You made it known that you aren’t a doormat and that you aren’t just along for the horrible, horrible, horrible car ride.
So now you know that these mistakes can kinda sorta be caused by our innate desire to be liked. And that it’s okay not to be liked. Because that’s definitely out of your control.
Sure, you can sacrifice your own comfort for the comfort of others. You can sit through an entire four-hour meeting without a drop of water.
But what’s going to happen if you have to excuse yourself to use the restroom? A couple people might look at you. The door might make a ridiculously awful noise when you open it and everyone who wasn’t already looking is looking now. The bathroom might be right across the hall with the worst acoustics ever and everyone who wasn’t looking can now hear you pee.
It might not feel like it in the moment (especially with the flush heard ‘round the world), but you’re going to be more comfortable.
I promise. People who are going to like you are going to like you regardless of your restaurant preferences. And people who are going to dislike you are going to dislike you regardless of how many times you take a bathroom break.
I know this might not seem like a tiny tweak, but we can totally break it down to make it tinier.
Maybe it’s wearing headphones while you eat lunch in the break room. (Someone actually called me out for doing this.) Maybe it’s bringing a snack into a lunchtime meeting. Or maybe it’s declining an lunch invitation because you don’t like the restaurant.
What’s one thing you can do this week that you wouldn’t normally do for fear of judgment?