Letting Go of What (You Think) Others Think
How many of us truly live in a space where we do not care, at all, what others think? Your immediate response might be, “me, me!”, but I urge you to take a couple minutes and think about it, for real. Would you walk out of your house with spinach stuck in your teeth? Probably not. Not because it bothers you (I guarantee you wouldn’t even know it was there), but because someone might look at you funny if they saw wet greens lodged in between your teeth. They might judge you, just a little bit.
Unfortunately, and sometimes fortunately, the profession of being a lawyer is all about judgment. Day and night, day in and day out. Some lawyers may call it “analyzing”, but let’s be real, it’s judging. This judgment starts way before you even handle your first case as a lawyer. The first judgment comes when you receive your LSAT score, which then determines which law school you are “smart enough” to get into, and from there it soon-after morphs into judgment about your grades, class-rank, summer job, journal, bar passage, law firm job, and the list continues. Law school is all about judging, and let me say, I got pretty good at it.
Being a [young female] attorney, I brought a lot of judgment into my life. Key word: “I.” I would find myself in a space of wondering, worrying, pondering, debating, etc., what other attorneys were thinking when they saw me, a [young female] attorney, walk into the room (and after I politely advised the receptionist that no, I was not the court reporter). Was the attorney (or judge, or mediator) wondering how old I was, how many years of experience I had, if I even knew what “ex parte” meant? I got really good at forming the opinions of others solely based on what I perceived them to be thinking, as if I somehow possessed the magical power to tap into the brain of others. But, this “skill” of mine did me no good, which is completely opposite of what a superpower is intended to do. The interesting part is, I had no idea I was even doing this. It wasn’t until I became more mindful of my thoughts that this awareness came about. I was creating a false reality of who I was based on my assumptions of what I believed others were thinking of me. From this space, I was functioning from a tense mindset. I was not relaxed, and I was not myself; when you are not relaxed, your true brilliance does not shine. I was blocking my brilliance, for goodness sake!
Thankfully, I soon realized this self-judgment and my perceptions of others’ thoughts were not true (read: unfortunately, I don’t have any super powers.) I, and I alone, was the one creating this false reality. Once I realized I could create negative perceptions with my thoughts, I also realized I could create positive ones. Why not spend my energy focusing on my achievements, strengths and abilities? Shifting the pattern of self-judgment to self-love takes practice and patience, but the payoff is immensely rewarding and productive. Try it and see for yourself.
What negative judgment about yourself have you been holding onto? How would you feel if someone told you those thoughts were all a lie? I’d love to hear your feedback.