Do I even care if people like me or not? In theory, the answer should be no. In reality, the answer is definitely yes, I do care if you like me, I care even more if you don’t like me. I have no idea what type of conditioning causes these feelings but I place the opinions others have of me in a very high place.
When I think about it logically, it’s bizarre. Allowing people, even people who don’t know me to somehow make a judgement call on my worthiness. Yet it has been something I have always felt deeply.
Yesterday I took my dog for a walk at a local park as I have done for the past year with no issues. As we walked around the corner an older man shouted to me ” I guess your dog can’t read” I was a bit confused about what he meant at first but then he went on to say this was a “leashed dog only” area.
Now, I have walked this track many times over the years and have never used a lead to walk my dog in the past year that we have had him in our lives. I had checked the council website before we very first walked him there, looked out for signs and had always seen many dogs running off lead, happily saying hi to one another around the walking track.
This interaction really threw me. I was in such a great mood when I arrived at the start line of this 1.5-hour walk and then those words that this stranger “boomed” at me (which turned out not even to be correct advice, because I checked later and dogs are allowed off lead at this park) it really upset me. In fact, it ruined my whole damn walk. I was out there to clear my head, get some exercise, run my pup and enjoy my early morning out in nature and those couple of sentences from a complete stranger ended up throwing my whole morning off.
I felt bad, sick in my stomach. I felt like I had done something wrong like I was breaking a grand law or a rule or just not being a “good enough” dog owner, person, human. I am my own worst critic every single day but to have someone else criticise me, gets me right in the gut. How on earth could this stranger shift the mood inside of my own body from joyful to upset and how did that feeling sink in so deep and sustain itself for hours?
This is something I have been struggling with a bit lately. It keeps popping up for me in all manner of scenarios, as things usually do until you learn the lesson life is trying to teach you. Rejection, feeling left out, not feeling good enough, wondering why someone said this or didn’t say that. These are the things that have been swirling around rampantly in my mind for a few weeks. We human creatures who love to be a part of, and build relationships, can’t quite cope when we are feeling “less than”. FOMO (Fear of missing out) can strike at any time and so can those awful feelings of inadequacy.
In the past I have dealt with these type of feelings by shutting down, putting up walls, walking away and for a few years there I became fiercely independent. Not letting anyone into my safe circle of one. Work I have done on myself over the past years has taught me that this isn’t the best way to move forward. This is the way to stay stuck. It took a lot of mindfulness and recognising this situation for what it was yesterday and I was able to work through it in my mind and eventually let it go. I folded up the frustration into a metaphorical paper plane and let it fly off a cliff-top.
This is genuine progress for me and has left me feeling a little excited, and like some new level has been reached. Wahoo! Although it may not seem like a particularly huge confrontation, I have never been able to deal with confrontation well, at all.
This time I felt the feelings of upset, moved through them and just let it go. How amazing is that! The process works; you have to catch it when it’s happening and ride the wave. It’s the small achievements that let me know I am moving in the right direction, and this was one of them. Yesterday was a good day. Yesterday I practised mindfulness and had a great result. Now I need to reduce the time between the interaction and throwing the paper plane off the cliff. Practice makes perfect.