Did you ever wish you were inside somebody else’s head? Of course you did. If you stop to think about it right now, you could probably come up with several individuals whose minds you wish you could read. If you are interviewing for a job, you probably would love to know what they think of you. That hot date last weekend; why has she not called yet? Your boss seems angry at something; I wonder if she did not like my presentation. You weren’t invited to the party Saturday night; he probably doesn’t think I am cool enough. You were invited to the party; will he think I am cool enough. The reality is that we spend more time thinking about what other people think than what we think. We are often more concerned with pleasing others than with fulfilling our own needs.
The irony is we are so caught up in the chatter of our own mind, we are unaware that everyone around us is plagued with similar doubts and fears. Imagine what your day to day life would be like if you operated with the knowledge that every person is essentially experiencing life not much differently than you are. What if you discovered your deepest darkest thoughts are not uniquely yours- no matter how bizarre or convoluted- most people have experienced similar or worse thoughts? Whether you are angry, fearful, sad, jealous or insecure, there is nothing your mind has come up with that has not been thought by a million others.
In my work, I have had the privilege of hearing it all; not only from my clients but from my own mind. Much of my work is focused on helping people recognize that most of their fears and insecurities are “normal.” The perception of “something is uniquely wrong with me,” is one of the primary causes of pain and suffering. People believe that other people have it all together; they are happy; they have what they want. I can assure you this perception is incorrect.
What keeps this belief alive is the inauthenticity from which most of us are operating. This began in our childhood; whenever we expressed negative thoughts we were chastised and made to feel like we were somehow bad for even feeling them. We learned to keep our true feelings to ourselves and put on a phony face to the outside world.
Parents need to help their children feel that their feelings are normal. They need to have the space to express them without fearing rejection or feeling bad. Allowing children to feel their feelings and release them appropriately will help them feel more comfortable in their own skin and less afraid of being harshly judged. Embracing their feelings will help them accept themselves unconditionally.