The “Too Long, Didn’t Read” Short Version
You can never know what somebody else thinks or feels about you. When you draw a conclusion about how they think/feel, you’re partly doing it with your rational brain, but you’re also doing it with your emotional expectation of what you feel you deserve. So if, for example, you don’t fundamentally feel worthy of love, the conclusions you draw are going to be consistent with that, because your brain is always striving to maintain an outside experience that is consistent with your inner expectations of what it should be. So next time you make an assumption that someone doesn’t like you, doesn’t love you, wants to break up with you, is not going to pay you, is going to fire you, etc…. Maybe it is worth taking a look at the opinion you hold of yourself — your [potentially limiting] inner belief system — and ask yourself if you feel deep down that you’re not deserving of anything better than this unpleasant conclusion you’re drawing.
The Long Version
The other day when doing some journaling, it really sunk in for me for the first time that I can never really know how somebody else feels about me, or what they think about me — any opinions I have are just a story I’m telling myself. Sure, the more facts or clues I get, the closer that story might be to the truth, but at the end of the day it’s still always just a story.
And today it really hit me that that story is actually just a reflection of how I feel about myself in the present moment. Or, perhaps more accurately, it’s a reflection of what I feel I deserve in a given moment.
This realization comes as a result of being faced with some challenges lately in my romantic relationship, and one part of one conversation in specific. I don’t know about you, but at least for me, romantic relationships have an uncanny ability to ignite my insecurity and send me into “BRAIN THINKING AND OVERANALYZING EVERYTHING AT 100 MILES PER MINUTE” mode. And when I’m not in a healthy, self-assured place, it’s really easy for me to get into that space because of how important it becomes to me what my partner thinks of me.
So here’s a simplified version of what went down last night: her and I were texting and she mentions a need she has that I’m currently not filling, and then says that she’d like to chat about it later. And what happens in my brain is that this triggers the feelings of inadequacy & not being good enough. And as a result, everything in this conversation now gets perceived through that lens.
Fast forward to today, where I found myself feeling sad & gutted that she doesn’t want to be with me, and that she doesn’t love me enough/think I am worth it enough to work together to try to find alternatives or compromises so that we can still get that need met for her. And that the only reason she’d want to talk on the phone would be to tell me all the reasons it wouldn’t work between us and that, because I’m not meeting her needs, she wants to leave me.
And it was when I was able to detach from this thought pattern for a second and step back to look at it that I realized something… She never actually said any of those things. She’s still here, and she’s still talking to me. Even though we’ve been having a hard time, she hasn’t disappeared; even when she was feeling smothered and wanting nothing more than to run away. That behavior is not really consistent with someone who doesn’t think it’s worth it to stick around and just wants to leave. Usually, they’d just leave.
Seeing things in this new light brought it all together for me: I was drawing a conclusion about how she felt, based on an unproductive emotional habit I have of feeling not good enough and not deserving/worthy of love. When I shifted out of that space and into the space of being perfectly fine and deserving of love just as I am, her texts took on a totally different meaning. Suddenly her saying she had a need that wasn’t getting met didn’t mean I was inadequate — it meant she wanted me to be a bigger part of her life and wanted me to meet this need. Suddenly her saying she wanted to chat soon didn’t mean that she wanted to make it final that we’re over, but instead that she wanted to talk with me and work on solutions together.
It’s interesting what a difference a shift in perspective can make, and it all starts with how you’re feeling about yourself. So next time you’re feeling bummed because of how somebody else feels about you, maybe take a look within and see if that’s consistent with what you believe you deserve. If it is, it shows that you have an inner belief system that you could work on changing to bring more happiness into your life.