I am NOT that important.
The show WILL go on WITH or WITHOUT me….that is fact.
And it liberating to know this. The truth will set you free!
Is it me or do people seem more self-important than ever lately? I feel this plays a role in the high state of anxiety our society lives and breathes in. Being self-important is a sure-fire way to be high-strung and easily triggered. It takes A LOT of energy to keep yourself at the center of the universe (I am exhausted at the mere thought).
The truth is nobody is watching you. Nobody is spending all day thinking about you. Very few people even care about you except for close family, friends, your significant other. Why such a seemingly harsh statement? Because you’re not that important (trust me, nor am I)! It is a tough but important message to hear if you want to be happy and emotionally healthy.
Self-importance can become a source of tremendous angst and unhappiness. Self-consciousness can create an obsession with how we appear to others, what they think of us, and with our image.
I have counseled people who are paralyzed by their self-consciousness and pervaded by self-important cognitions. When a person is self-conscious, they think as though they are on stage, and the audience (ie other people) are scrutinizing their every step.
Being self-conscious can limit our ability to enjoy the moment and express ourselves fully. Cognitive behavioral therapy is really helpful in overcoming such a faulty thinking pattern.
Moreover, a colleague of mine recently shared a TED talk with me on freeing yourself of self-importance as a precursor for living a happy life. I copied the link to the TED talk above and found it to be an interesting talk to invest the 17 some odd minutes in.
Basically, the bottom line is you need to “get over yourself” if you want to be a happy person.
Usually when we hear the expression get over yourself we think of a self-absorbed jerk who is being inconsiderate of everyone around them–acting as if they are MORE important than others.
Yet we have ALL seen self-importance in action. It is the mother at the airport standing with all her and her children’s bags in the middle of the moving sidewalk, oblivious to those behind them who may need to pass. It is the person in the waiting room loudly chatting on their cell phone completely ignoring the NO CELLPHONES IN WAITING ROOM sign. The driver leaning on her horn because someone in front of her remains stopped when the light turns green—to allow a pedestrian to finish crossing. The colleague who takes credit for all apparent successes and blames others for all failures. It is the friend who talks twenty minutes nonstop about themselves without asking you how YOU are.
These scenarios are increasingly common in our day-to-day life. Yet can you recognize when you are in fact the offending party in said scenarios?
Getting along and getting ahead requires playing well with others, either in cooperation as friends, family, spouses, teammates, and coworkers. Yet many people struggle with doing just that. Our day-to-day life is filled with thoughts about what others may be thinking, what others may be doing, trying to figure out WHY someone said this or did that.
Yet how often do you ask yourself what effect YOUR words and actions are having on those around you? Healthy relationships require that you do just that. We are, by default, the center of our world. Yet self-importance leads us to focus on how other people’s words and actions affect US, but fail to pay mind to when we are in fact the offending party.
Ask yourself how often do you:
~Worry about what other people are saying/thinking about you?
~Feel stressed that your problems are unique and NO ONE else struggles like you do?
~Obsess about your perceived shortcomings–looks, financial, success, grades, etc.?
~Induldge in over thinking—on a variety of topics?
Ask yourself honestly. How much of your day is spent focusing on YOU?
The thing is about self-importance, in its many different forms of expressing itself, is toxic. It pollutes the energy of those who need to feel self-important, as well as anyone and anything they interact with. Most other people, don’t appreciate being made to feel less than, will become defensive or take offense at the energy spewing out at them.
Being authentic doesn’t mean you don’t take care of yourself or look out for your best interests—of course you must. But you do this with an attitude of grace and softness rather than aggression or antagonism.
Empathy is at the cornerstone of emotional intelligence, but so is the ability to regulate our thoughts and behavior so as to have a positive effect on our own lives AND on the lives of the people we love and care for.
Daniel Goleman said, when we focus on ourselves, our world contracts, as our problems and preoccupations loom larger. But when we focus on others, our world expands.
We all have moments of frustration, anxiety, and angst. But did you ever notice that all those situations have one thing in common? You.
At extreme levels, self-important thinking can lead to paranoia, a belief that others are thinking about you, talking about you, and paying attention to you when they are not. I often gently point out to clients that MOST people are worried about their own daily to do lists, families, obligations, etc. The truth is most people’s thinking is centered around them, not you. Most people are busy living their own lives–they neither the time nor the energy to devote to people who have little effect on them including you.
Ask yourself often what it is you want to contribute while you’re here, what impact you want to have on others and the legacy you want to leave behind.
If you want to be happy, don’t dwell on yourself so much. Self-importance reduces our ability to go with the flow, while putting stress on our relationships. Viewing everything through a “how does this reflect on me” lens is unfair to others. People may begin to avoid us or keep conversations short with us.
If you really want to “get over yourself” once and for all, practice a daily gratitude practice. Embrace humility and being humble.
Take yourself LESS seriously. LIGHTEN UP.
If you find yourself relating to this video or blog post, counseling might be a great place to process these emotions and figure out a better way to live and let live.
To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):
Erin Doyle Theodorou, M.Ed, LPC, NCC
Anew Counseling Services LLC
617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649