One of the first nuggets of wisdom I heard that really stuck with me was from a long time member, Phil. Phil is a grown child of alcoholics, so he grew up in the disease, then married an alcoholic without even realizing he was perpetuating the cycle. He went to Al-Anon many moons ago on a desperate whim, now lives the program 100%, and always has the greatest shares. He keeps it hella simple, no frills; my kind of shit. Anywho, he shared this line in a meeting three years ago, and it’s still my jam. Ready for it?
“You’re just not that important.” Holy balls. I am just not that important. Here I was thinking every time someone ignored me, or turned to talk to someone else quietly, or didn’t respond to me immediately was all due to something awful I had done. All about me. Perhaps this sounds familiar….
My boss ignored me when she walked past not because her plate was full and she was stressed, but because I must have done something terrible. Enter made up scenarios, over analyzing my every move during the past week, and sheer panic that I would certainly be summoned down and punished for my bad behavior (that I never even behaved). I am so amazing at my job, that the only reason she wouldn’t beam in my presence was because I had done something horrific.
Two co-workers turned and spoke briefly during my staff development presentation, hmmmm definitely dissecting my presentation (probably my outfit and zit, too). Wouldn’t at all be discussing where to eat lunch ten minutes before lunchtime (going out to lunch is a big deal for teachers on SD days). Maybe my fantastic information and activity weren’t as great as I thought, but fairly certain nobody could have done it better. Enter insecurity (major ego crushing), self-doubt, over analyzing the situation, and throwing up my guard. I am outstanding, they really need to be quiet and listen. On the other hand, maybe I’m not all that great? Ahhhh, my old pal the internal conflict, with whom I battle nearly every day.
Opening the good ‘ole inbox to see yet another email from “that” person. Reiterating stupid questions I already answered in previous emails, leery of my top-of-the-line teaching skills, trying to bully me into changing a grade or taking yet another past due assignment, serving up another serving of crap excuse. Not at all trying his best to be a concerned and involved parent who is simply worried about his failing child, reaching out, and trying the best he knows how. Oops. I made it about me again.
That one simple line, “You’re just not that important,” was one of the most enlightening and freeing things I have heard to this day. It taught me to step back and look at the situation from the other side, rather than immediately take it personally and jump into defensive behavior. Learning empathy has taken quite some time, however has been one of my most important steps along this journey. I used let my insecure ego get the best of me, it made me act in mean ways to myself and others. Plus, it just felt crappy always being anxious for nothing while taking everything far over-the-top too personally. It’s tiring. And not in a good way.
In the spirit of Mr. Phil, I am keeping it sweet and simple with this post. I challenge you the next time something pops up to pause for a second, and tell yourself, “I’m just not that important,” before your next action. It sounds too simplistic to have such power, but I assure you it really is magical! Here’s to: less ego, more awareness, less anxiety, more zen.
Be Good, Do Good