You exist through the eyes of others
Short answer, of course they don’t.
In the past, it’s been all too easy for me to imagine the absolute worst in other people.
Rather than focusing on myself, my goals, my interests, and things that made me happy, I worried endlessly about what other people would think of me.
Anything that involved me dealing with someone else, typically friends or new people I met, would be over-analyzed. The output would be a worst-case scenario that usually kept me away from actually facing my fears, or diving into new experiences.
I’m always interested in ways to fight these problematic ways of thinking, not just for myself, but all the other people out there struggling with the same problems.
It doesn’t have to involve months of therapy, drugs etc.
Here’s an example.
Let’s get in the shoes of ‘Nervous Nelly’. She’s presenting in front of her entire office in a few days. As she prepares for her presentation, her mind might wander to the audience of peers and collegues. It’s likely she imagines a lot of judgement reflecting back at her. She thinks they are obsessing over her, and have complex negative opinions about how she looks, or what she says.
Now let’s switch shoes. ‘Blasé Blake’ steps up to the podium. As he talks effortlessly, he glances at the crowd and spots Nervous Nelly. Do you think he gives a shit about what she’s thinking? Do you think he tossed and turned about what she would think of him?
Another way to think about it, is watching footage of yourself. Without your inner narrative running at full blast, life looks a lot more simple. Reality seems more real.
If we could really see ourselves from the eyes of others, a ton of this over-thinking and anxiety would lose its purpose.
Give it a try.