(Originally posted March 15, 2019)
What people say about you is a reflection of them, not you. Most of us have probably heard that saying before, and typically think of it in relation to a negative interaction. Negative comments said by others can sometimes result in us ruminating on perceived deficiencies within ourselves, or perhaps feeling anger or judgment toward the other person. We might look for what’s missing – in ourselves or another – which is preventing a more positive interaction. It’s helpful to remind ourselves that it’s about them, not us.
Any message is rooted in the person who is spreading the message: how they feel that day, what space they’re in, or whatever goal they may have. If someone is having a bad day (by their own interpretation), even if they are our biggest fan, they may have trouble saying “hello” in that moment. This may come across to us in various ways, depending on how vulnerable or confident we are feeling at that moment. But really, what they say is about them; how we receive it is about us and within our control.
What about when a person is supportive, reassuring, and complimentary in what they say? It feels great, maybe it perks us up! But it’s not actually how they feel about us that impacts us in the long term. Sure, it shows the other person’s belief in us, maybe they even point out attributes or skills that we hadn’t consciously noticed we had. But the real impact actually comes from the resonating deep inside us, the spark that reminds us of what we already know to be true about ourselves: deep down we all know that we are amazing – we’ve just forgotten! Our inner beacon, the light that guides our way to this knowledge may have just dulled a little over time due to believing other messages (direct and indirect) about how we aren’t good enough in some way, how we are somehow deficient by another’s (or our own extremely high) standards.
If we look externally for support and validation, how we feel can change like Calgary weather. What people say to us, as well as movies we watch, what we read, ads we see, energy we feel – every piece of information, opinion, and comment we take in can impact us, good or bad — as we choose to define it, and as we choose to receive it in that moment.
The more we can hold firm in our core confidence, know ourselves to be doing our very best (whatever our best is in that moment), be aware of our uniqueness, hold onto our strengths, and remind ourselves that other peoples’ words are about them – responding in a way that is true to us – we can help ourselves stay solid in the midst of it all.
Let the positive comments and compliments rekindle what you’ve forgotten, allow it re-light your inner sparkle. But know that you don’t have to rely on them to feel that. Don’t wait for a compliment from someone else. Be your own cheering squad. Give yourself a compliment. Tell yourself how great you did. Remind yourself to look inward and see your own wonderful skills and attributes and unique personality – all of which make you you. And the world – all of us – we all need you just as you are.