When I was heavily pregnant, I went to an aqua aerobics class with my Mum.
We’d just entered the pool, when a stranger in the class told me how good it was to see me “out and about, keeping active”.
Immediately I felt this irrational kind of anger just bubble up inside me.
I felt like she was judging me, like she thought my injuries meant I was only capable of a gentle aqua aerobics class.
As someone who has worked bloody hard to get my fitness from zero to Ironman, the idea that someone doesn’t think I’m capable makes me feel angry.
In my head I was screaming “I’m an athlete, I’ve done Kona Ironman! I could crush everyone in this pool!”. ??
But later, as I re-told the story to Michael, he asked “Why are you letting this affect you? You can’t even be sure that’s what she meant”.
He was right. I didn’t know what she had meant.
I had assigned meaning to her words.
So, I sat down and I wrote out all the possible other meanings.
She thought it was nice to see me keeping active while heavily pregnant.
She just thought it was good to see me.
She was just trying to make conversation.
She felt awkward and didn’t know what to say.
She hadn’t had her morning coffee and was in a bad mood.
She thought it was nice to see me with my mum and that we have a great relationship.
Seeing all the different possibilities listed in front of me made me realise that Michael was right (haha, first time he’ll ever read that!) – we can’t ever assume what other people are thinking.
As humans (sorry to all the cats reading this), we have a tendency to let experiences like this shape us. They become part of our “mindset DNA” – how we understand ourselves and the world around us.
But, we can choose how we see these experiences! We’re pretty clever, after all.
So, here’s a challenge for you:
I want you to think about something that’s been said to you in the past that made you feel angry or annoyed – anything that triggered an emotional reaction from you. It might be a glance someone gave you on the street, someone who pushed in front of you in a line, or a word said in passing.
Now write down all the possible meanings they might have had for that look or word. For e.g if someone pushed in front of you, yeah maybe they were a rude person. Maybe they didn’t see you. Maybe they have really bad vision. Maybe they just lost their job and weren’t really with it. Make sure you actually write everything down – we want to get this stuff out of your head and onto paper.
Then, review your list. See how there can be many interpretations of one experience?
Remember, when you assume what someone thinks about you, you’re only limiting yourself and your perspective of the world. – Tweet it!
So, give this a try, and let me know if it worked for you in the comments below.
PS – Did you know I’m speaking at the National Achievers Congress in Brisbane this May? I’ll be alongside Tony Robbins, Michelle Bridges and Naomi Simson, and tickets are selling really fast. If you want to come along, check out all the info here.