What if things aren’t always as they seem?
Would it really be so bad?
If someone’s glance didn’t really mean what you thought it meant? If someone’s words — even though they seem to be directed at you — actually weren’t a reflection of you, but rather of them? Could it be that what we think isn’t really the truth? How could we know if it was the truth anyway?
What if it’s just not personal — none of it?
Think about it for a minute.
How much easier would your life be if you didn’t go around thinking and believing that everything was about you?
Someone’s dirty look. The sigh out of your partner’s mouth. What somebody did or said. What somebody didn’t do or say. The harsh words. The person who cut you off in the car this morning. The dog barking. The text message that seems defensive…
The list of things we take personal, often without even realizing we’re doing it, is endless!
In a world where each one of us is the centre of the universe, whatever happens around us means something about us, or means something in relation to us.
But what if none of these things had anything to do with you?
Could it be just as possible that the person who “gave you a dirty look” on the sidewalk this morning was actually thinking about their mounting debt and was consumed with worry and fear at the moment their eyes met yours? What if the “dirty” look you saw on their face was simply a look of pain? Their suffering was posted across their face in that moment, and you just happened to catch their eye as you passed them.
Chances are, they didn’t even see you. All they saw was their own hurt.
I know from my own experience, I don’t have to look far to realize that this has happened to me before, many times. I’ve been the hurting one, walking down the street, consumed by my own negative thoughts. The pain, fear, anxiety, and worry swirling around in my head gets plastered onto my face without me realizing it, and then I look up to see someone smiling at me as they whoosh past me on the sidewalk.
Their smile stops my thoughts in their tracks, and my own facial expression automatically changes to match theirs. But it’s too late — they’re long gone, and all they got to see was my sour look glaring back at their smiling face.
My angry/pained expression had absolutely nothing to do with them — I’ve never even seen them before in my life! But that doesn’t change the fact that they may have taken offence to my facial expression if they thought it was about them.
Our lives are filled with tiny moments exactly like the one I just described. Something in our outer physical world happens, and we interpret it as something entirely different in our inner world.
Basically, we imagine it into existence — and by doing so, cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary suffering.
If none of these things were personal, you could just drop them; let them go. You wouldn’t have to carry them through your day, or through your life. You could simply experience them, and then move on.
It would just be a noticing. You could simply be the watcher, witnessing what’s going on around you, rather than the interpreter.
Your full-time job of determining what everything means at all times in relation to you and what the appropriate response is just falls away. You don’t have to do it anymore. The weight of that job no longer eats away at you.
You no longer have to be on guard. You no longer have to live in fear. You no longer have to feel the tension, anxiety, and stress in your body. Your muscles relax. Your jaw softens. You feel lighter.
What a relief! The burden has been lifted.
You are free to just be — rather than constantly figure out. You don’t have to know everything anymore. You don’t have to explain. You don’t have to be a detective, determined to know what he’s thinking and why. You don’t have to demand or fight or struggle or effort anymore — because your life no longer depends on it.
You can just live your life, authentically and in the moment.
You can be free.
Have you ever had a realization like this? Share your experience in the comments below!