I know, you’ve read countless productivity and efficiency tips. You probably just read a post about 400 hacks to save time. But this post is gonna get deep. Here, we’ll get to the soul of our over-crammed lives, find a fear that lurks in the dark, and smash it to pieces.
Why do we care so much?
So why do we care about what others think of us? Don’t worry, we have a really good reason. You see, humans are social animals. Our ancestors lived in tribes over a long period of evolution. They had to fit into their tribes and be accepted or they would be rejected from the tribe – that means certain death for a tribal human. Now, things like how you and your things look did not cause a rejection; things like murder and other unforgivable acts did. Nonetheless, we still evolved to care what other people think, and it’s rooted in fear – fear of rejection.
How does this fear take our time?
Fast forward to today where we live in a fast-paced consumerist culture that has been training us to think we should look a certain way and own certain things that need to look a certain way. And we often don’t even think twice about it.
Here are some examples:
- Meticulously kept grass-only lawns
- Excessively large houses
- Expensive and spotlessly clean cars
- Fashionable clothes, kept up to season
- Current makeup and contouring
- Ever changing popular hairstyles and colors
- Straight, brilliantly white teeth
- Chiseled body shape
- Stylish home décor
- Flawless skin
All of these things bring some people great joy. If some of these things make you truly happy (look deep now), then absolutely keep doing it. But sometimes we do things we don’t really like or want to do because of that deep desire to impress others.
How do I take some of my time back?
For each of the items in the above list, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I do this?
- Does it make me happy?
- How much time do I spend doing it?
- Do I do it only to impress others?
- Do I want to keep doing it?
- Do I need to keep doing it?
Let’s take a topic from the top of the list – lawns. Many people have lawns because that’s just what everybody else has, and they either want to blend in or they don’t care to do anything else (which is totally fine). I know some people who love their lawns and take great pride in them. I also know some people who never even seeded their lawn; they just mow what grows.
What’s time consuming about a lawn? Mowing, watering (in some cases), fertilizing, weed killing, aerating, dethatching, raking, and reseeding. Not everybody does all these things. Some people do none of them and pay someone else to do it. That’s fine, if you care about your lawn enough to hand over your heard-earned money for it.
Some people have lawns but they don’t want to use herbicide or spend countless hours attempting to pull dandelions and other weeds. In their case, they should answer the above questions and find out if they really need to be worrying about those non-invasive weeds anyway. Most of the time, people put a ton of time and/or money into killing dandelions simply because they don’t want to a) piss of their neighbors, or b) have a lawn that looks bad to others.
Stop giving a damn.
Here’s a hint you may have heard before — it is none of your business what other people think of you. It does not matter one bit if someone you know or someone you don’t know is unimpressed with your lawn or your skin or your clothing. They are working just as hard to impress you. Do you notice?
We are all just running on hamster wheels trying to impress each other and simultaneously raising the bar on each other (and ourselves), making it more and more difficult to maintain the standards we’ve set for each other (and ourselves).
Most people don’t go out and proceed to judge everyone else’s outfit; they’re too worried about their own. Nobody thinks you’re less of a person because you hold your essential fat in your arms or ankles or belly instead of your ass. As long as your teeth are clean, it matters to people only that you are smiling, not that your teeth are whiter than a 2-year-old’s.
Today I got a satisfying enough amount of cleaning done for a Sunday and decided to stop cleaning and take my older son out for some bonding downtown. I thought about changing out of my athletic clothes, maybe shaving, or doing something to make myself look more presentable like put on some makeup or style my hair a little. But it was a fleeting thought, and I determined that the time I could have spent making myself look “better” for strangers downtown was better spent as quality time with my son.
Not surprisingly, I got zero funny looks, zero comments on my appearance, plenty of smiles, and best of all, I was comfortable. But even if I had received funny looks or stares, it wouldn’t have mattered. Sometimes people stare or honk at me, particularly when I’m running. I actually choose to think that they just think I’m really sexy. It brightens my day a lot! But even if someone criticizes or insults me, I try (key word) not to let it get to me. Why? Because it does not matter one bit. If that person is suffering so much that they feel the need to judge or insult others, then they are the ones that need help. Not me.
Choose to let go of the fear that is driving your need to impress others. Do/wear/buy what makes you happy and fulfilled. Let the true you shine through – you are totally and completely, one hundred percent lovable as you. Once you start to let go, you gain control of all the time you were spending feeding the fear of rejection. What will you do with all that extra time (and probably money)? Travel? Read? Meditate on self-love?
How were your results? Please share them with me in comments or emails!