June 19, 2012
Picture yourself walking into a quiet but crowded room where everyone is seated. You need to walk across the room to find someone you know – find your place. But you can’t get there unnoticed. All eyes turn to look at you while you enter the room. Many of us find this to be an awkward situation as all attention falls on ourselves. “How does my dress look? I should have dressed up a little more. Is my hair in place? Did I remember to do my fly up after I went to the washroom? Suck in the gut, everyone’s looking. Oh, I wish I got here on time. I hope there isn’t toilet paper stuck to my shoe.” Did you remember to smile? Make eye contact, nod to the people you know along the way, hold your shoulders back with confidence, be relaxed? Because really, your concerns and worries are your ego talking. What are they really thinking? “I wish this event would start already. Oh, here’s someone coming in late….I’m glad I didn’t get here late and have to walk in front of everyone. My stomach is growling, I hope no one can hear it. Why did I get seated with this couple who I have nothing in common with? Do I know her? This is going to be a long night.”
As we go about daily life, we interpret people’s reactions to us. Their facial expressions, the smiles or lack of, the eye contact, their body language. But often their facial expressions may be showing their internal worries and not anything related to you. Maybe they didn’t sleep well last night. Maybe they are trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Maybe they are re-living the aggressive driver and horrific traffic they encountered on the way. Why do we tend to believe that it is all about us? Why should everybody walking around be focusing on us and giving us feedback? They aren’t. They are also wondering why you aren’t smiling at them. Why are you looking at the ground when you walk by instead of making eye contact? Do you ever look someone up and down because they have a unique style or something different on that you admire? Maybe they are misinterpreting your reactions too. When I have been looked at up and down, my first reaction is to feel that I look bad or my outfit doesn’t look right. Maybe they also were seeing something they liked.
I wish I could have mastered this when I was younger. All the self-doubt and self critizism would not have eaten me up. All the thoughts that I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough, cool enough. If only I had the confidence to shine. But instead, I dimmed my light. If only people could grasp the fact that our egos control our destiny. Smile and the reaction you get from the world will light up your life. By taking control of your actions and reactions to everyone else, you change the mood, change their perceptions, change how they feel about themselves, change the world step by step. Try it. Be confident to walk up to that group who cling to each other for support and ask how they are. You might be surprised that they just needed your reassurance that you like them.
I was watching my Aunt Dee interact with people last year. She is an older lady needing the help of assisted living and a walker, but she exudes happiness, confidence and grace. She can tell someone to wait for the next elevator in such a nice way with a sincere smile of her face, yet still standing firm. She is genuine when she asks about your life and does not turn up her nose at your opposing ideas. I admire this lady and strive to be able to say how I feel without sending negative emotions with it. This is a hard quality to master. It is easy to vent and say how you feel, but try it while keeping your composure and allowing the other person to keep their ego in tact.
Try letting go of that ego of yours, it really isn’t all about you! And good luck with it!