It isn't about you....
We are wired to need other people in our lives. So we are wired to "read" others to interpret how our relationship with them is going/how they are feeling about us. However, we sometimes lose perspective and begin to be preoccupied with what others think of us and the internalize belief that our actions directly trigger how people treat us. This inclination to internalize external behaviors is a significant source of emotional distress for for many people. These emotions are valid and understandable; we all yearn for acceptance and seek harmony in our relationships and when that is seemingly disrupted it can cause extreme distress.
During my years of guiding individuals through their personal journeys, I've observed a recurrent theme: others people's actions have nothing to do with us. Sure, it feels like it does and some people will even tell us their behavior is because of us. But that simply isn't true.
Here is an example from my own life: encountering a colleague in the hallway who doesn't acknowledge your presence. The immediate reaction might be a sense of discomfort, prompting an internal inquiry into what you might have done to sour the relationship. The essence of this reaction is universal—our minds naturally seek to attribute causality to actions, even when they're not directed at us.
Consider this alternate perspective: the colleague's behavior might not be a reflection of your actions or worth, but rather a manifestation of their own inner world. They might be engrossed in their thoughts, preoccupied with work issues, or grappling with personal matters. I've been that person so engrossed in my own thoughts I hardly noticed that I passed a person except to not bump into them. I certainly didn't register who the person was so it couldn't have been at all personal towards them. Just me, being in my own head and so focused inward that I was rude.
It can be life changing to internalize the truth that the way people treat us is often more about them than us. This realization doesn't just alleviate the emotional weight we carry—it transforms our perception of ourselves and others. When we embrace the mantra, "The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being; it is not a statement about you," we grant ourselves a newfound sense of freedom. And sometimes, their behavior might only be a snapshot of who they are in that fleeting moment, influenced by various factors beyond our control.
Increasing self-awareness and the cultivating a compassionate lens through which to view both oneself and others, can improve the interpersonal dynamic so misunderstandings or allowing others to dictate how you feel about yourself can be stopped or at least decreased.
People's behavior can often be a mirror reflecting their inner struggles, insecurities, and experiences. Understanding and internalizing this can empower you to change how you feel, think and react to other people's behavior/words.
Embracing this paradigm shift is a gradual process that requires patience and practice. Just as we practice any skill over time, learning to detach from the instinct to internalize others behaviors takes deliberate effort. There will be moments of uncertainty and vulnerability, but with each step forward, you'll move closer to liberation from self-imposed emotional burdens.
In essence, the journey toward understanding that people's actions are a reflection of themselves, not you, is a transformative one. It's a journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and the cultivation of healthier emotional responses. As a psychotherapist, my mission is to guide you through this voyage of self-awareness, providing tools and insights to navigate the complexities of human relationships and emotions.
The pivotal realization that the way people treat you is more about them than you holds the potential to reshape how you perceive yourself and others. This perspective grants you the freedom to release undue self-blame, fostering a deeper understanding of the intricate dynamics that govern our interactions. By embracing this truth, you'll uncover a wellspring of compassion for yourself and those around you, ultimately leading to a richer, more harmonious life journey. Experience the transformative power of self-awareness and compassion at Autumn Skye Counseling, LLC with Vickie.
“If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.”
― Yogi Bhajan