What will people think?

by Gillian Campbell

31 Jan, 2020 at 2:30 pm

‘The must be seen as’ box in Arbinger’s Outward Mindset work is an insidious beast.  How can it be that I may have a sense of the right action to take or thing to say and yet sometimes I have to overcome a fear of voicing my idea or thought with a transient flash or catastrophising premonition of what people might think of me.  My need to be seen as not upsetting anyone, not rocking the boat, not being against the body of opinion, moves me to silence my sense.

The stifling effect of my concern or insecurity and the powerlessness of placing others view of me over the potential idea, thought or action can impact on my ability to see the people around me as people.  They feel dangerous, judging, the competition.  Contestants in an imaginary competition that I have to win…not a great way to live or see the world!

But what actually is the risk in mindset terms?

If I don’t follow my sense and I hold off from sharing what I see, what’s alive in me, the sense of what is useful, then an internal dialogue begins where I have to justify myself for ignoring the sense. I experience a constant dull niggle, an internal dialogue of ‘should’ s’ and ‘shouldn’t’ that I know are not true, but they might just feel real enough to lower the volume of my own disappointment. I know I’m not living my truth.  An ill-ease descends and a knowing doubt that I am not who I would like to be, I am afraid of people and I have handed my power to an imaginary foe.

Forty odd years of slowly recognising the weight of how ‘the must be seen as box’ weighs me down and now I recognise that honouring my sense creates resilience.  I can share how something looks to me, my thoughts, my truth, calmly without any need to be right.  By contributing what feels useful by speaking up or even just acknowledging my truth even if I quietly without fear sense it is not right, or not kind or useful to share. I know I have stood in the responsibility of who I am and although my views may not be approved of, or liked, by honouring my sense or speaking up brings a place of peace, a tranquillity.  From this stillness my fear recedes and the people around me are people again, probably all overcoming their own doubts and fears too.

Next time you have a sense to speak up about an idea you have, maybe try overcoming the maelstrom of justification and any fear of what others may think of you and see what happens…