That concern has consumed too much mental energy through the years, as well as dictated my words and behaviors on all too many occasions.
It has led to lying and racing to cover up anything that would not be acceptable, sometimes stopping at nothing, magnifying the situation tenfold, in order to control what others would think. Simply put, manipulate the outcome.
I can trace that fear all the way back to those tumultuous teenage years, wishing I wouldn’t have said or did what I did and wishing I would have said or did what I didn’t. Sometimes I would obsess over all the “what if’s” for days.
What if people will think I’m stupid?
What if s/he thinks less of me because of what I said–or did? I gotta fix that! And the cover-up would begin…
And that would lead to worse behaviors in order to try erase what was, or withdrawing until the shame, humiliation and fear would fade into a more distant memory.
That fear of what people will think continued to monopolize mental energy through the years of being wife, mother friend, divorcee…you get the picture.
If my husband would be unhappy, surely it had to be because of something I did or said. And what would people think?
Or if my kids did or said something that appeared less than acceptable, I would feel shame because surely people would think it had to be my parenting. Heaven forbid, what would people think?
With age comes wisdom. Yes, some good does come with age.
As my spiritual foundation has gotten stronger and I’ve made it a priority to spend time in prayer and meditation, really getting to know God through His Word, what people will think no longer holds me captive. The chains have been broken.
Worrying about what people would think of me, made “me” just a little too important.
Once I took the spotlight off of “me”, and deflected it to God, my life became much less stressful as I became more confident. Less self-focused and more God and others-focused.
What people will think of me is no longer my motivator for what I do or say. Not everyone is going to like me.
And. That. Is. Okay.
And if when I still occasionally experience that fear of what people will think, I reflect without making it about how I feel, but rather if I said/did something to make someone else feel less than lifted up.
Nothing? Then let it go.
If not, make amends so I can let it go. To God. All of it.
And all of me.
All is Grace.