Jun 052016 0 Responses

Sometimes Life Isn’t About You

Much of life is about you–what you think, desire, and want. In a multitude of daily decisions, you never have to consider anyone else. We make thousands of decisions every day with only one question being relevant–what do I want?

Consider a simple visit to Starbucks as a microcosm of our lives. What do you want to drink? What do you want in that drink? What size would you like that drink to be? In one Starbucks visit, you make multiple decisions in order to get exactly what you want.

Advertisers know that much of life is about you and they exploit it. Every commercial appeals to your personal preferences and attempts to persuade you to choose their product based on how it can satisfy what you want. (See: How to Better Control Yourself)

On a continual basis, multiple voices are shouting that life is about us, and in many cases it is.

Except when it’s not.

And far too often for our liking, life is not about us. Our opinions don’t matter. Our preferences aren’t relevant. Our voices do not need to be heard.

The difficulty is that we are so accustomed to life being about us, we often struggle to recognize and accept when it’s not about us. We continue to state our opinion, demand our way, and just assume everyone else will do exactly what we want. When they don’t, we can’t understand what is wrong with them.

We never realize the problem is with us.

On a daily basis, we need to ask a simple question: Is this about me?

If you don’t regularly answer no, you are deceived. And deception comes with a tremendous cost.

Consider, if you are attending a:

Wedding. Unless you are the bride or groom, the wedding is not about you. You might have a right to share your opinion. Preferences of parents and others should be understood and taken into consideration. But the wedding is not about the mother-of-the-bride or some passive aggressive family member or a step-parent trying to prove their value in the family. It’s about the bride and groom.

Funeral. Unless you are the deceased or a very close family member, the funeral is not about you. Even if you are a very close family member, the funeral is not solely about you. Adult children need to recognize the opinions of their parent’s spouse in the same way that the spouse of the deceased must be cognizant of the desires of a loved one’s children.

Child’s game. Unless you are a player, the game is not about you. It can bring you great enjoyment, but that’s a secondary result. The primary intent isn’t about your thoughts or desires. As a bystander, you should have no influence over the game and the game should have very little influence over you.

These are just three examples of activities which are not about us. Yet on a regular basis I see people try to make it about them.

  • A family member tries to dictate a couple’s guest list.
  • A friend forces their way into a speaking role at a funeral.
  • A parent goes crazy in the stands.

They have forgotten the event is not about them. (See: What Every Mother-in-Law Should Know)

When we fail to properly distinguish between events which are about us and those that aren’t, we cause hurt.

We hurt others. Relationships are strained. They sense our tension and frustration. They second guess their thinking and decision-making. They feel overlooked and diminished. They can feel guilt over their own preferences.

We hurt ourselves. We feel an unnecessary responsibility. We endure undue stress. We experience pressure in situations where there shouldn’t be any.

The hurt is a byproduct of a simple mistake–since so much is about us, we wrongly assume everything is about us.

Sometimes it’s not. And when it isn’t about us, we should rejoice. The pressure is off. The demand to make decisions doesn’t exist. We don’t have to perform or oversee or achieve. When something isn’t about us, we can watch, enjoy, and submit to the preferences of others–all the time thinking of how we would do things differently, but never voicing those thoughts because it isn’t our business.

This is tremendously good news–sometimes life isn’t about us.


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