Nobody cares about you. They don’t want you to succeed because you’re not worth it. You have nothing to offer them because you are not unique in any way, shape, or form. All your positive qualities and skills add up to zilch in their eyes. Unless you are a tool they can use to better themselves everything you say or do is going to go in one ear and out the other because It’s just meaningless babble and you are wasting their time which is more valuable than yours. Don’t even think about asking for help then you’re just nagging and nobody likes a whiner. Keep that stuff to yourself.
Brutal. Let me explain.
People are self centered. I am, you are, and everybody around you is. There are very few of us that have the ability to care about others as much as we care about ourselves. Yes, I care about you but I care about me more. It would be nice if people cared about others as much as they care about themselves but our brains don’t work that way. So let’s recognize the world for how things are not the way they should be. It doesn’t mean that people are bad it just means that self-preservation is inherent to our thinking and behavior.
Whatcha Thinking About?
For example, when I’m talking to co-workers trying to explain an idea or influence their decisions in some way I’m filled with anxiety because I know they are judging everything about me. From the speed I talk to the way I stand, and what I’m wearing they are judging me. I’m sure of it. Hold on a second, do I really believe that they are that preoccupied with me? Now that’s really self-centered.
What I imagine they are thinking…
What they are probably thinking…
Nobody “Gets” Me
My parents divorced when I was 13 years old and I had to move from my rural private school into public school. My church and my private school were the same place and there were about 30 students from K-12 in my private school. We went to school Monday through Friday, had youth group on Wednesday night, and two services on Sunday. Even though there wasn’t even another boy in my grade I never had to work to make friends since the pool was so small. I’m not saying that I always got along with everybody but at the end of the day I had to make up because there wasn’t anybody else to play with…and I had to see them every day except Saturday. It was basically a cult and everybody is friends with everybody in a cult. From age seven until the time my parents decided not to stay together for the kids, all my friends were chosen for me.
I handled this transition well for a pre-teen by being as loud and obnoxious as possible in class. Hey, if people (all the people) know how cool I am then they will like me and want to be friends, right? Instead of coming off as “cool” I ending up alienating myself as the “weird” kid.
Many of my annoying activities got me a trip to the principle’s office or a talking to in the hallway. One of these talks in the hallway resulted in me crying out to my teacher that she didn’t understand what I was going through and that I was a special case. I had it harder than all the other kids because I had just transferred. Surely that was something nobody else had ever gone through and it warranted some leeway. Blah, blah, blah…
Did my teacher completely understand what I was going through? No. So was I a special case? Definitely not. And Mrs. Patterson knew that. She didn’t coddle me and tell me that I deserved special treatment like I wanted her to. She responded, “Brandon, you’re a smart kid and you can fit in with the other students if you want to.” And that was that.
I wasn’t the center of the universe that I thought I was. Instead I was just a kid going through a rough time but to me it was EVERYTHING. I wish I would have realized that to get what I was craving, friendship, I should have been attentive to others. It would have easily shown my classmates how “cool” I was by being interested in them. However, I was so consumed with myself that I didn’t realize they were craving attention just as much as me.
Pride vs. Entitlement
More recently I’ve had the opportunity to build a Business Analysis practice at work (don’t worry, you don’t have to know what Business Analysis is for this part). I’m like a proud father and the practice is my baby. A couple weeks ago I tried to leverage this accomplishment into a new laptop. I mean, I built this practice so I deserve a new laptop. My boss shot me down and was put off by my request considering that there was nothing wrong with my current laptop. *cringe* My pride turned into entitlement.
It’s perfectly fine to be proud of your accomplishments. I write about my accomplishments all the time in my journal. The moment I think that my success entitles me to a new laptop or some kind of other special treatment though I’m letting arrogance take over.
They say that pride comes before the fall but I think it’s more appropriately stated as pride turns to entitlement before the fall. I know, it’s not as concise but I think it’s more accurate.
Listen And Be Curious
Imagine a friend asks you to help them move this Saturday. Is your first thought “I wonder what time my friend is going to get up on Saturday, are they excited to get into their new place, and how much did they pay for the moving truck?” Or is your first thought “Am I available this Saturday, how heavy is their stuff, and are there any stairs?” If you answered the former then you don’t need to read this blog at all because you got it all figured out. If you answered the latter then you’re like the 99.9% of us who think about ourselves first. It’s important to reiterate that this is not a bad thing. You just need to recognize that everybody else is doing the same thing too.
It’s human nature to picture yourself at the center of the universe. Just don’t let it turn into arrogance. Be humble in your accomplishments and don’t get caught thinking that you deserve more because of them. Otherwise you might end up crying in your boss’ office demanding a raise because you show up to work on time every day.
When I set my goals for this year I wrote in my journal “Listen and be curious” as the heading. In order to accomplish this goal I need to recognize that I’m going to always think about myself first but others are going to do the same too. Telling myself that “Nobody cares about what I think” helps me frame conversations so that I can see from someone else’s perspective.
How do you shift your perspective?