Over the weekend I went away camping with a bunch of absolute legends, two of whom now have a beautiful little baby.
Normally babies scare the bejaysus out of me.
Little kids used to tease me for having freckles and braces, they’re so blunt and straight up, they don’t hold back, and they used to announce my insecurities in a way that I couldn’t handle.
Now I realise what I didn’t realise then – no one else’s words can hurt you if you’re secure in who you are. I know my ‘faults’, and I’m at peace with my imperfect life and body – I don’t let my mind make it into a big deal anymore. It still tries, but I’ve learnt how not to believe everything it says. This is key to enjoying your life.
But I’ve gone off on a tangent,
that wasn’t the point of this post. This is how my posts get so bloody long – I think of multiple points and then try and cram them all in to one post! Need to work on that. Sorry.
The point was that this little one spent hours worth of car journey in a stare off with me. And I kept losing.
She held my gaze until I got weirded out. She never did.
It reminded me that as young children we didn’t worry about what others thought of us. It wasn’t even a consideration for us. We did what we wanted at all times. We didn’t know about things like judgement and insecurity. So if we saw someone we wanted to look at, we just stared at them.
Small children act freely and erratically, and more often than not, they bloody love life! Until bit by bit, they’re taught to conform to social etiquette. “Don’t stare, it’s rude”. They learn that dancing or singing out loud in public is not acceptable after a certain age. They learn not to be too loud, not to show too much enthusiasm, not to be too friendly or affectionate towards people they don’t know.
And one day, 30 years later we find ourselves standing in a train surrounded by people, not making eye contact, silently pretending to ignore them all, scrolling through other people’s Facebook lives instead of engaging with the people right in front of us. Since we’ve all been brought up in this way, we all act as though this is normal behaviour.
Can you imagine looking into a strangers eyes without breaking eye contact for any longer than a few seconds?
At some point, we learnt that it’s weird and rude to stare. It’s one of the first social conventions that get put on us as kids. We start to modify our behaviour to try to stop others judging us.
If we see someone we want to look at
– a hot babe, someone odd, or that chick in Auckland that has a white bike and a white painted face and white dreads –
we quickly avert our gaze incase, god forbid, they see us staring and think that we’re weird. Or that they think that we think they’re weird!
But we’re curious by nature, our wish to stare at people and know their stories is instinctual. It’s the same reason my posts about my love life and personal stories get read by thousands and thousands of you. We want to know about other people’s lives.
But among many other instinctual things, we deny our instincts for fear of looking bad.
We go around analysing what other people might think of us and then editing our behaviour accordingly.
And as it continues, we start living smaller and smaller in order to avoid other’s judgements.
As humans, our full time occupation is to look good and avoid looking bad.
It doesn’t leave us much room to manoeuvre.
It requires a lot of pretending, which takes a lot of energy. We start to find meeting new people draining – when we’re trying to present a perfect front every time we meet someone new, it’s going to feel exhausting, not fun.
Instead of saying and doing exactly what we want to do and say in everyday life, we voluntarily but accidentally put ourselves in an invisible prison. The bars are made up of other people’s potential judgements of us.
We play small, and then we wonder why we’re feeling unfulfilled.
Can we really live a bloody good life if we live in fear of what others possibly – maybe – potentially – one day – might think of us?
If you really didn’t give a shit what others thought of you, would you really be doing what you’re doing with your life? Would you really be saying the things you say?
People always comment on how honest I am with my posts and in person.
They comment on it because they find it new and refreshing – which goes to show that we live in a world where blatant honesty is not commonplace.
I’m only able to be so honest because I learnt mindfulness.
I learnt that my mind is continually telling me stories about how I should or shouldn’t say this or that, in case people judge me. And I learnt how not to get caught up in believing everything my mind says.
As a result I’m now able to live much more freely. I say what I want, I do what I want, and I don’t let me mind keep me in an invisible prison.
To do this, you first have to learn that you are not your mind. Your mind is automatic, and its default setting is to judge, analyse, compare, and worry.
By learning mindfulness, we to learn to detach from our mind. Our mind is what keeps us stuck. It feeds us an ongoing dialogue – what if others think I’m stupid? What if they think I’m arrogant for speaking up? What if they think I’m weird for doing XYZ? What if I put myself out there and not everyone likes me?
Our mind is never going to stop thinking these thoughts, but there is something we can do about it.
Book in for a free half hour chat with me if you want to learn about how I did it and how I can help you to do the same. If it can work for me – a former insecure, cynical pessimist who was scared of small children – it can work for anyone!