Have you been to your high school reunion yet? Or your college reunion? Heck, you don’t even need a reunion to see that some people have “let themselves go,” as they say. Maybe someone you know from days passed has gained weight, stopped taking care of himself or herself, or is totally rocking that “dad bod.”
And we judge. We sit there and make ourselves feel better for all the areas we’re lacking in because, hey, we don’t look as bad as Kayla or Andrew (random names, I promise). We take people for Facebook value, instead of what’s on the inside. We neglect stepping back and stopping ourselves when we feel the gossip creeping up, just waiting to be born out of our lips.
Kayla may be going through a heart wrenching divorce. And Andrew may have been diagnosed with a disease that makes even walking difficult. Or, maybe they’re simply living their best lives and happy as could be and don’t give a dang what you think about them.
But we don’t know that. Because we don’t ask. And, frankly, we’re too concerned about how we appear to others and what others think about us than what’s beyond the surface – of ourselves and of others.
I have a point here, I promise.
Recently, I’ve been bogged down with a lot of anxiety. Running helps, as always, but the racing thoughts are, well, still racing. You may know what that feels like.
It’s been difficult for me to get a grip on it, despite the tactics I’ve learned over the years, and I’ve spent many moments wondering:
“What the heck is wrong with me. Am I going crazy?”
No, I’m not. And neither are you if you’re experiencing the same thing.
You Have A Soul
I recently read an article entitled, “Why We Love Ourselves but Care More About Other People’s Opinions.”
Basically, it’s an observation of Marcus Aurelius’s (the Roman Emperor and stoic) Meditations in which he says:
“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own. If a god appeared to us—or a wise human being, even—and prohibited us from concealing our thoughts or imagining anything without immediately shouting it out, we wouldn’t make it through a single day. That’s how much we value other people’s opinions—instead of our own.” –Meditations 12.4
Meaning, we take care of ourselves, because we need to survive… and we love ourselves, but we place far too much value in what other people think.
I don’t think this comes as a shock to anyone – it’s not earth shattering news. But it got me thinking as I faced a lot of anxiety this week. Am I looking to the world for happiness? Am I seeking validation from everyone around me in order to be happy?
Is this partly why I am so anxious this week?
It’s easy as human beings to play the self-comparison game (mentioned at the beginning of this post) in order to make ourselves feel better. It’s easy as human beings to focus on how we look and to care if we’re “in-line” with what the world says we should be “in-line” with. And it’s way too easy, as human beings, to gossip about others. But we often forget that we’re human beings with SOULS.
I can run until my legs give out. But running won’t heal my soul.
I can look to Instagram for the next cute top I’m going to buy. But what I wear won’t heal my soul.
I can lose 10 pounds. But a skinnier me won’t heal my soul.
This post is my plea to you (and myself) to take a step back this week and do some introspection. What are you telling yourself? Are you saying things like:
- “At least I’m not as much of a hot mess as _____.”
- “I only got ____ (insert number here) likes on my latest Instagram. I wonder what people didn’t like about it. Maybe I should delete it.”
- “Why do bad things ALWAYS happen to me?”
This week, change the conversation with yourself. Build yourself up. Stay positive. Take time to align your soul with what really matters – and that’s not going to come from what’s in this world. For me, it’s going to come from my relationship with God and from my faith. It may be the same for you. It may not. You know what your soul needs.
When we look to the world for our happiness, we end up living in the fast-paced culture that surrounds us. We live on shaky ground, with one foot on one path and the other foot on another. Unstable and insecure. We live with fears. And, ultimately, we live with anxiety.
Do what you can this week to take care of what’s inside. Because, let’s be cliche, that’s what matters.