One of the greatest paths to true mental freedom is the ability to give up the belief that what others think, feel and how they act towards us should measure our self-worth. I highlight people specifically, because when we look deeper at the route cause of most individuals worries the sentence “but what will other people think” illustrates clearly mental captivity.
I had a conversation this week with a woman who said she couldn’t figure out why “her manager doesn’t like her”, “why her manager appeared to be nicer to other staff members but not her.” She also commented that she “just couldn’t figure out her personality”. Now its important to note the manager of this woman has never confirmed she doesn’t like her, she hasn’t demonstrated anything significant to suggest there is a problem between the two. The conversation was full of assumptions about what one person is thinking. And we know that assumptions leads to misunderstandings and judgement of others; this in-turn creates a noisy mind, a knock on self-esteem and irrational behaviour towards others.
Naturally we do analyse other people and their actions. We take words and actions personal, assuming they are some how targeted at us even though assumptions aren’t facts; we still allow other people to control our behaviour.
Becoming free mentally takes some practice, I started at 18. It took 10 years to really get there, and even today I still have to focus. I still have to be mindful of my actions to ensure they aren’t unintentionally harming another also practice not allowing external sources to affect my inner-peace.
Along your journey to being mentally free, adopt these strategies into your life:
Know that what others do isn’t because of you
It couldn’t be more true! What other people do is not always directly linked to you. We get so consumed and wrapped up in our own personal lives we make-believe other people’s words and actions are aimed at us. But when you really break it down, most people aren’t going to benefit by spending time and energy in harming you intentionally. Now this isn’t to say there aren’t miserable people in the world who sometimes only seem to get joy from the miseries in other peoples lives. However, the majority of the time, whether you are at work, school, in the gym, shopping – people have busy lives and their own agendas. I’m sorry to say, you aren’t a priority enough for them to constantly direct hurtful words or actions towards you! That’s good to know.
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about
This is a great daily reminder to use. To be mentally free, we have to practice not taking things personal or to heart. First of all most people don’t realise what they are saying at times as not much thought goes behind the word choice of people. So when we are at the receiving end of careless speech, it is easy to believe that person may not be very polite, appear hostile or be seen to “not like you”. I always adopt the mindset that people have battles they too are battling with, I am not the only one with troubles. Let’s put it into context; your angry boss could suddenly demand you take on extra responsibilities or scrutinise an area of work you have recently produced. What you may consider instead of thinking “they want to fire me” is, what pressure could my boss be under from his or her boss? What personal issues are they struggling with? Are they even happy in their job?
Another scenario closer to home could be a family member who appears to be unhappy constantly and seems to directly show hostility to you or others around you. Always remember, as I stated in my previous blog, even though family are linked biologically it doesn’t mean we are always going to enjoy being around them or that they by law “must be nice to you!” Think about the family member, what have they been through recently? What job do they do, is it stressful? Are they content in their love life, do they have a love life? Are they stressed financially? If they have children, could their be any stresses linked to that?
These questions are good to silently ask yourself before you assume that another persons upset is about you or intentionally out to cause you harm.
When thinking about the battles most people struggle with they usually fit into one of the 4 categories below;
- Housing, security & money
- Strong friendships, relationships & intimacy
- Achievements, success, self-esteem
- Seeking peace, rest, good health, satisfaction.
If a person you know has a great home, secure job, good income, succeeding in their job role, is well liked by peers and in good health – you may assume “they have nothing to worry or be miserable about, they have a great life”, but yet they have bouts of irritability and sadness, that you can’t seem to figure out or seem to get the brunt of a bad mood! It could be that they are not fulfilled on an emotional level, they may be seeking a love relationship – there is always a reason.
Whatever it is, always bear in mind people have their own struggles; don’t take someones harsh words or bad mood personal.
Freeing your mind of judgement (that includes of yourself)
Judging others is natural, even in a non-malicious way we judge others as a way of working out what another person is about. In the process of deciding if we like a person or not we do judge them. If you had met a person for the first time you may look at their appearance, words they say, the family they have and what they do for a living to make an overall conclusion about whether you would want this person in your life or not. This is how we make friends and how we form romantic relationships.
The problem with judging others is when it is done with an intent to hurt or words that are spoken which have no truth or facts behind them. When I find myself judging another person, I stop myself or I stop a friend if I hear them make a judgement. Judging others creates a lot of noise in your mind, the words you hear silently in your mind are often made up of judgements about others and the world around you. Practising non-judgement helps you to have peace inside.
When dealing with others judging you, you have to remember other people do not truly know you. Even our family and partners sometimes never really know the true us. Only you do. You can justify yourself as many times as you like to prevent anyone judging you but somebody always will. I recently read a good quote that said, “whether you lay on the couch all day, go to the gym five times a week, get married or don’t get married, start a family or don’t start a family, work a corporate job or decide to never work, someone will always judge you in someway for the life you choose to live” – it couldn’t be true! And it is this reason why the sooner you begin to free yourself of what “other people will think” the quicker you get to live a life you have wanted to without regret or uncertainty.
Think about this when practising to care less of judgements:
- Are people living your life or are you living your life?
- If you continue to change your behaviour or do things to please others, are you going to achieve the life you want at the end of it?
- Are judgements enhancing or crippling your health?
- If tomorrow you found you only had a week left alive, where do people’s judgements come in then? Where are they to save you? Where are those judgements to make you well again?
The answer is nowhere! Seriously guys, the road to mental freedom is in your hands, as Rumi says, “why stay in prison when the door is wide open”
Last, but definitely not least; remove self-doubt
The biggest killer of mental freedom is the lack of self-belief and the absence of knowing your true worth. When we have low self-esteem, little confidence and uncertainty in our abilities we constantly question ourselves, again creating unnecessary noise in the mind. We change our behaviour to please and meet the needs of others, which means we are not being our true selves which in turn means you remain mentally trapped!
Being reminded of your qualities is essential when repairing self-esteem or believing in yourself. A good tip to try is through a mood board with a difference. Include pictures of special occasions you have experienced, special words others have said to you, list examples of what you KNOW you are good at, write down your wonderful personality traits. Pin it up on a wall in your house, if you find meditation hard, spend a few minutes in the morning and in the night looking at the board.
The benefit of this is to keep your spirits up, help to stop your feelings of worthlessness it could also help to motivate you towards achieving a new goal!
You can also ask yourself, where your limited beliefs about your worth and abilities stemmed from. When you realise a lot of your thoughts are created by yourself, you see the advantage of this, simply because if you know most of your thoughts were created by yourself, it is only YOU who knows your thoughts. Other people aren’t thinking what you think. Nobody else knows how you feel regarding your worth or abilities. The only way people know your thoughts and feelings is when you display actions which would suggest so.
If an event took place in your life which impacted your confidence, you were only supposed to learn from the event – not let it control the rest of your life. See it as a benefit, negative events happen to help take us to the next level in our development as people.
Whichever tip you try, keep in mind the ultimate goal is for you to be happy with who you are; to help give your mind some peace.