What do people really think of you?

My capstone program – Creativity and Personal Mastery – gives you very powerful tools that will absolutely transform your life for the better. An early assignment, before we meet for the first time, calls for admitted participants to list what they would like to get from it.

A surprisingly large number say that they are concerned about what persons think of them. They would like to improve other’s perception of themselves.

Be honest now. Don’t you want to know what other’s think of you?

I know the answer to that. I know what others think of you. Trust me on this one.

And the answer is (drumroll please) they are NOT thinking of you!

We go through life all wrapped up in The-Movie-of-My-Life. We think everyone is watching this movie but they are actually watching The-Movie-of-Their-Life and in this movie you figure as a bit-player if you figure at all.           

Early in one class Clarice challenged me on a point in an article we were discussing. I politely set her straight but she insisted that she was correct. My teaching assistant brought up the article on the screen and, sure enough, she was off base. Her face turned red in embarrassment.

We moved on. Clarice stopped speaking altogether. We write a retrospective for the class and, in her retrospective, she mentioned that everyone noticed how ‘stupid’ she was and thought that she really did not belong.

Fortunately we had a celebratory party a week later and I asked a group of participants about the incident. Not one person remembered it. When I firmly jogged their memory by narrating full details, a few of them vaguely recalled it and none of them thought any worse of Clarice as a result.

Clarice retreated into a shell based on her worldview of how persons perceived her and this was constructed of whole cloth entirely between her ears!!

This is true of your life as well.

Here is a simple way you can test this. Recall an incident in your life – about a year or more ago – when you committed a faux pas. Perhaps you were maladroit in a social situation or bungled an important presentation or got drunk and made a fool of yourself.

Go to persons who were present and gently probe their recollections. I will wager that the majority doesn’t even recollect what you are talking about.

So cease lament. Drop this heavy load that you carry around with you every day. Stop worrying about what people think of you. They don’t think of you.

If you make a blooper and persons laugh? Celebrate this. You have made some people happier for an instant. Tomorrow they will sink back into their lives of quiet desperation and forget about you and what you did.

Your challenge is to not be quietly desperate yourself. And you will have taken an important step on this path when you stop thinking of what they are thinking of you!