While driving to an event recently, I noticed this strange feeling inside my body. I wasn’t quite able to pinpoint where it was coming from, but I knew something was just off. Not sure whether it was a physical reaction from something I ate, hunger, something weighing on my mind, worry, or an unease in my emotional body, I breathed into it.
It soon became clear that the subtle discomfort in my body was being triggered by a subtle unease of my mind. Up until that point, I had been completely unconscious to this lingering belief that someone in particular didn’t like me.
What?! This was so not like me. I’m not one to worry what others think. Or so I thought…
Yet, here I was; my physical and emotional body responding with a tightness and a constriction to the uncomfortable thoughts inside my mind.
I began to reverse engineer what was happening, where it was coming from, and what to do about it.
First of all, I knew the good news. I’m not the only one who finds herself at times worrying what other’s are thinking of me. And the better news, you aren’t either.
It’s a completely normal, human function of the mind to play this little game.
Stemming from the Ego, also known as the Inner Critic, or what I like to call, Separate Mind, this dimension of our mind has one job, which is to survive. It’s survival is dependent solely on separation, i.e., “I am different from you. You are different from me.”
Separate Mind is where we end up worrying about what others are thinking of us due to the projection of our insecurities. We may feel we didn’t so something good enough, or we aren’t good enough, or how we’re being perceived or judged, and whether or not people like us. These self-sabotaging thoughts create internal pain, and in an unconscious effort to unburden ourselves from the pain, we project it onto others by either judging, blaming, shaming, or believing the falsity that we are not liked.
So, here’s the deal…
While you’re worrying about what she’s thinking about you, she’s worrying about what he’s thinking thinking about her, and he’s worrying about what the next guy is thinking about him.
Seems simple enough and great in theory, but how do we actually apply this logic in real time when “They Don’t Like Me Mind” wants to get the best of us?
Here’s my 11 Step Process to shift out of “They Don’t Like Me Mind”
Step 1: Awareness
Your most powerful tool. Catch yourself getting wrapped up in the mental warp. Just the simple awareness and acknowledgment that something was off, allowed me to open up with curiosity to what was going on inside. My awareness gave me the ability to hear and process the signals.
Step 2: Don’t shove
Our natural inclination to discomfort is to push away. In this case, that isn’t self-serving. Instead of trying to shove down what’s coming up, allow it to surface. Give it permission and the space to be. In my case, I didn’t ignore that something was off; I breathed into it. I didn’t try to shove it away by distracting myself with music or food or a phone call; I breathed into it.
Step 3: Judge not. Your thoughts are not you.
There are two roots of all suffering: I am different from you. And my thoughts are me.
My thoughts are not me, and your thoughts are not you. They do not define me, nor do they control me; they are simply thoughts and I am the awareness of them. I don’t have to believe everything that passes through my mind. I can always choose differently. Reminding myself of this simple truth gave me the capacity to breathe a little deeper and thus created more space to see a different perspective.
Step 4: Trust that there’s a lesson in this for you.
There’s always a lesson here. Be all ears. After we’ve acknowledged the signal that our body or mind is trying to tell us something, given it the space to be, detached from identification of the thought/feeling, now we can surrender to the lesson. By asking, “What is this trying to tell me?” we gain a tremendous amount of insight. The body has an innate desire to be in harmony and will signal us when we need to be aware of things out of balance. It is our job to see to the signals and listen.
Step 5: Ask is it true?
Yes, talk to yourself. Literally get into dialogue with your mind. Remember, we are not our thoughts. We are awareness of our thoughts, which means we can enter into the realm of consciousness in order to engage with unconsciousness. See what comes up for you when you ask this question. In my case, only after several attempts at asking, did the answer finally emerge, “No. It’s not true.” I felt it like an undeniable deep knowing.
Step 6: Find an example that disproves it.
Ask yourself, “What disproves this thought?” Chances are you may find multiple instances that reflect this person’s respect and adoration for you. Or, you may not. Dig deep here. If you do find yourself in the latter, try to see it for what it is – their own suffering and pain points. Self-identifying with people’s projected judgements do not serve us, it keeps us stuck, and further disconnected from one another.
Step 7: Ask where it’s coming from.
This step is optional. However, in my case, what emerged from asking this question was a realization of a couple conflicts in scheduling which prevented this person and I from being able to have a meeting and how my unconscious mind had spun these isolated instances into something completely untrue, creating a false belief that I am disliked. Sometimes it’s helpful to see where it’s coming from, sometimes it’s not and can be difficult. Feel into this one.
Step 8: Define the limiting belief.
A limiting belief is something we believe to be true (which isn’t) that keeps us small and in Separate Mind. There is 99.99% always a limiting belief lurking in the dark. See if you can spot it. Ask, “Is there a limiting belief here?” For me, what turned up was, “I’m not good enough.” What? Because we hadn’t been able to meet, my mind- in all it’s imagination- spun a story that I’m not liked and therefore I’m not good enough. Sounds so silly, right? Once we shed light on our limiting beliefs and really break them down, they immediately lose their power.
Step 9: See it for what it is.
We carry around these false beliefs we have of ourselves all day. See it for what it is- Separate Mind, ego mind, worry mind, inner critic mind, limiting belief mind. Remember step 3: We are not our thoughts, therefore we are not our limiting beliefs.
Step 10: Reframe this negative thought.
Get creative here. Even if you don’t believe it at first, give it a try. It’s worth it. For me, it looked like this:
Original thought: “She doesn’t like me.”
Reframe: “Of course she likes me. She loves me. We have a great relationship.”
Original Limiting Belief: “I’m not good enough.”
Reframe: “I am good enough. I am damn good at what I do. I put my heart, soul and every ounce of my being into the work I do. I have passion, integrity and a desire to do good for people; and I always do the best I can.”
Do you feel the power in the reframe? I know I did. The Ego (Separate Mind) has no chance against that powerful truth!
Step 11: Thank this obstacle for providing an opportunity of growth.
Thank yourself for showing up for this process and for the insights of this awareness. Thank the lesson and those involved as they are key teachers.
I want to hear from you!
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Do you find yourself in “They Don’t Like Me Mind”?
What do you do about it?