Thursday, May 17, 2012

WHO Cares?!

Old building, Key West

Quotes of the month:
(Couldn't choose just one 
quote this month... 
so there are 4!)

When I accept me 
no one can reject me.
- Iyanla Vanzant

External power is
looking outside yourself for power and 
trying to manipulate and control 
the external world
so that one feels more powerful 
or more comfortable.
- Gary Zukav

Well I know it wasn't you who held me down
Heaven knows it wasn't you who set me free
So often times it happens 
that we live our lives in chains and 
we never even know we have the key.
- Eagles from "Already Gone"

People are far too involved in their own lives
to devote a lot of time thinking about what’s going on in yours.
- John Holland

I hate to be the one to tell you this.... but I want you to ask yourself WHO is it - - REALLY - - that cares!!!!  All of those things we spend so much time and energy on worrying about.... that all important question....

What will they think of me?

if I don't wear the right clothes,
drive the right car,
have the right job,
look the right way,
hang out with the right people,
date an attractive person,
cook a good meal,
have influential friends,
have smart kids,
know enough,
have enough,
am smart enough,
am enough,
have paint chipping off my building (as in the photo above....)
this list is really endless....... there are as many possibilities as there are people!

Yes, thankfully, there are those people who are benevolent, kind, caring, .......... sympathetic, empathetic, charitable.... etc. There are some people who care in a nice way. I am not talking about them today!

Think about it for a minute. How much time do YOU really spend thinking about the car, house, clothes, etc.... of other people?

Here is the thing that I would like you take away from this month's post. Yes, this is a bit of an over-generalization, but for the most part.....

People are not all that concerned with you! 

According to the John Holland quote above, people are too involved with their own lives.... their own issues, egos and problems.... to spend a lot of time being concerned with yours! 

Here is an exercise to try....
Think of the last time you may have bought something with the idea of impressing others or had concern over what other people thought about you.  Go through each of the following groups with this experience in mind.  

Group 1  Your close friends and family. These are the people that actually do care about you... but not really about your car or your clothes. For the most part they are happy when you are happy. They are sad when you are sad. That is another over generalization, but the point is that usually these people want to know how you are.... FOR REAL.... and think of what you must be feeling in a situation. These people want the best for you and love you just the way you are! 

So, you don't have to prove anything to Group 1.

Group 2  There is huge group of people you know but are not close to. Acquaintances. Maybe people from work or school. People that you see occasionally and chat to. Think... that list of 400 friends on Facebook.  Think of someone in this group...... think about what car they drive? Do you know what kind of car they drive?  Do you think more or less of them because of the car? 

NO! You don't care, right?  Aren't you too busy with work, family, your to-do list  ....and thinking about your own "stuff" to really care about their car? (If you find yourself saying that you do think about, judge and/or care... continue on, I'll address that below.)

So the point is that their car = whatever you are worried about (whatever you chose for this exercise.) They are too busy thinking about their car, job, significant other or whatever their issue happens to be to be that concerned about your dinner party, your house or your education level.

So, you don't have to prove anything to Group 2.

Group 3  Next is the rest of the world that you don't know.... the man selling produce on the street in Cambodia sure doesn't care if drive a nice car ... and you don't really care how many cabbages or bananas he sells, right? (yes, in an ideal world we do care, but no one person has the time or energy to have concern for every other person, individually, in the world.)

The point is that you don't have to prove anything to him or anyone else in Group 3.

So.......  I have a question for you.....

WHO is left?

If it is not your close friends and family.. and not your acquaintances... and not the rest of the people in the world... then who is left?

Who is the person that you need to prove it to?
Who is it that you are really concerned about?
Who is it that cares if you have the right job or education?
Who is left?

Who did you come up with? 

If you find that you do think about other people and their houses and cars, etc.... here is the key.  You think about it inside of your head, how does that affect them? (We are not talking about groups that form around hate, bigotry and violence here... just average people.) How does a (judgmental) thought inside of your head have any affect on someone outside of your head? I'll go so far as to say it negatively affects you more that it does them! (For additional reading see the post titled Judgments, Tiger Woods... and Anthony Weiner... and Rep. David Wu.... and You!)

So... the other way around..... if they think about you inside of their head.... how can it really affect you? The only way a thought in someone else's head can affect you is if you also buy into that thought and believe it too. In reality if you don't hold that thought in your own head, then you won't care what they think (For additional reading on this topic see the post titled Is the Sky Blue?)  ... so, IN REALITY ... it takes us back to the same place..... 

The only thought that really does matter is the one in YOUR head!

And what about tabloids and entertainment "news" shows? People do seem to have an obsession with stars and the gossip surrounding their lives. I believe that the general rule still applies. Maybe they live vicariously through the shows, like to see that others are worse off or see others get into more trouble than themselves (think Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan) or like to judge others (refer back to the paragraph above or post on judgment.) All of these are basically rooted in how the person feels and thinks about themselves.

What is the common factor in all of the above examples?


All that matters is what YOU think about yourself!!!!!!!!

So if you are feeling not smart enough, not attractive enough, like you are not driving the right car, clothes or home..... the only important thought is the one inside of your head! You are the only one that needs to care!

If you are looking to the world to make yourself feel better about some aspect of your life you are looking for what Gary Zukav refers to in the quote above as external power. When one's sense of self comes from what they do for a living, the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the neighborhood they live in..... that is external power. It is looking outside yourself for power and trying to manipulate and control the external world so that one feels more powerful or more comfortable.

External power can go away - you can lose a job, crash a car or lose your appearance through aging. So if your sense of who you are is tied to that job, that car, or how you look - - - when you lose the job, crash the car or start to get old - - - you won't know who you are. It is also ok to be beautiful, rich, drive a nice car or live in a nice house, the key component is tying your sense of self to those external things... or letting them define who you are.

From an interview with Star Jones, she says that at her heaviest, she tried to disguise her weight by increasing the size of her persona. "The hair, the lashes, the nails," she says. "This is the first time since I've been doing television that I've worn my natural nails, because I'm confident enough to not need big long acrylics." This is a subtle example of external power. Defining who she was and hiding behind hair and nails.

When your sense of who you are comes from inside yourself, that is Authentic Power, according to Gary Zukav. It cannot be lost like a set of keys. Zukav says the creation of authentic power is a process. Once you create it, it can never be taken away from you. Or to put it a different way, in the words of the Eagles above, we are the ones who hold the key!

As always, please leave your comments below by clicking the link below.

Until next month,
Keep it simple!


Mark & Laura Anderson said...

Read it three times to really get it to sink in. As always....such wise and wonderful words that always come at a time when I seem to need them most. Thanks Penelope! Hugs and love to you!

Penelope said...

Thank you Laura - I did some editing. Think there was too much in there for one post before. I appreciate your comment!

Michael said...

I love this post and this lesson, Peni. You know I have been working on this for some time, and I feel like I've made real progress. I want to add to your great quotes. Remember the Pink song I told you about? It has the lyric "Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead." I love that line!

ling said...

The biggest hang up for most people, even adults is: "what if i'm not likable? what if people don't like me." So people choose to remain silent on important matters so they can be "likable". It's maddening.

Thomas Aquinas said...

I spoke to you about risk taking. I think you hit the nail on the head. So what, if people want to judge me for my sharing on the web, it is their problem not mine. As I have said so many times in my book, do not allow other people to determine for you how you should behave. Maybe I should take a bit of my own medicine Yes?
Thanks Penny for sharing your wisdom. T