As humans we care about how others perceive us. Our primitive programming prioritises human connection. To a degree, caring what others think keeps us kind. But often we can care too much. And caring becomes worrying. Worrying becomes anxiety. Anxiety can make us feel trapped.
We worry about how our colleagues perceive our communication style; our office ‘banter’, our outfit, our handshake, our weekend plans, our email signature, our Zoom backdrop.
We worry about how families perceive our lifestyle, our house, our job, our partner, our carbon footprint, our choices.
We worry about how our friends perceive our personal style, our level of engagement, that thing we said or didn’t say, that thing we did or didn’t do.
The parents among us worry about what our mum and dad friends think of our parenting style, our children’s diets, manners, birthday parties, screen time.
This worry shuts us down, and pushes us further and further away from our own authenticity. We try to be what we think others want and what we think others need. We try and try and try, until we find ourselves a world away from our own sense of meaning. Disconnected from our inner strength. Lacking confidence and losing self-esteem.
Ironically the friends and family members who we love and trust the most will tend to describe us with far more kindness than we describe ourselves.
When we step, with both feet, into the perspective of a loved one, someone who knows us better than anyone else, and look back at ourselves, we can shine a light on strengths, capacities, and resources we never recognised were there.
In solution focused therapy we encourage our clients to step into this alternative perspective and we ask;
“What would this person notice about you that lets them know of your strengths?
“What stories would this person tell that had inspired their confidence and belief in you?”
Sometimes, when our own lens is misted over with worry and self-doubt, borrowing the lens of a loved one can help us achieve clarity on exactly how, underneath all the trying, we are already the person we hope to be.