Nobody Cares About You That Much
I spent an afternoon grabbing lunch with a friend in Mountain View (let’s give her the fake name, Sally.) Life had recently thrown Sally a huge curveball, and put her through a trial of destruction, rebirth, discipline and determination. It sent her mind into tailspins almost everyday. She constantly questioned life and death. She felt all eyes were on her and counting on her to get things right. She felt a strong sense of responsibility to everybody. Then one day, she turned to her big brother to ask if he felt her friends would care about the direction she was going. His answer set her free:
"Sally, you know I love you, but nobody cares about you that much."
This blew my mind wide open.
Nobody cares about you that much.
This can easily frame negatively, and interpret as, ‘nobody cares about me enough.’ However, what Sally’s brother communicated, and what Sally took to heart, was that nobody can have more ownership over your life than yourself.
Nobody can make my decisions that affect me more than me.
Nobody can judge my actions that bring me consequences more than me.
Nobody can mourn my personal losses more than me.
Nobody can celebrate my personal accomplishments more than me.
In the end, my friends and family will always care about me, but nobody will be more accountable to things that happen to me personally, than me!
So many of my trivial personal decisions used to rely on the opinions and responses from friends (and many cases still do). An example can be as simple as deciding whether or not to go out to the bars one night: I felt an uneasy pressure about letting my friends down for not showing up. I would hesitantly say, “Yes, I’ll maybe go,” instead of just saying, “No.” A truly irrational and unfounded fear of disappointing my friends completely creeps over me, drawing half-assed responses from myself. Now, here’s the dilemma. In my goal of not disappointing, I have now created an expectation of me actually showing up, when I clearly do not want to go.
What if I don’t bother to show up?
My decision at its core only affected me. I have now transferred its consequences over to my friends. If I had just said, “Sorry, I don’t feel like going out tonight, maybe next time,” they would respond “Ah man, bummed you can’t make it. Next time!”
Because nobody cares about you that much!
The beauty! My friend once even said to me, “You know what, thanks for saying straight up that you’re not coming. I hate it when people are wishy washy.” And this applies to almost every personal decision you make in your life. As human beings, we have immense egos that externalize our personal decisions, because we constantly thirst for approval, response, social stimulation, and reinforcement. We distribute personal decision among friends to garner artificial brownie points. We post personal decisions social media to get Likes. We have completely crippled our ability to think for ourselves.
Keep in mind, this completely differs from skimping responsibility of a decision that actually does affect others. So think really hard before you forgo your personal hygiene. Your communal stench is not a personal problem.
Now, take a deep breath. Relax. Make up your mind, and be firm. You can do it. You know why?