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As a kid, I use to love the show Three’s Company if you have ever watched it (and I know I am dating myself here) every show is pretty much built around their being some misunderstanding. That misunderstanding tends to be around someone overhearing something and taking it wrong, and thinking it is all about them. Many of the great comedy shows are built up on the idea that most of us as human, think most stuff is all about us and because of that tendency, misunderstandings occur rather easily.
For whatever reason, our tendency is to believe that everything is about us. Your partner wakes up in a bad mood, and we think we did something wrong. We hear someone talking about ‘him or her’ on the phone, and we think it is about us. Someone honks their horn, and we look around to see if we did something wrong. It is a human tendency to believe the world is all about us. Sounds selfish or self-centered but in reality, for many people, it is a shame based tendency. We assume we did something wrong because at our core we believe there is something fundamentally wrong with us so of course if something goes wrong if someone is annoyed if there is a problem more than likely it is us.
While this misunderstanding can be very funny in comedy writing–it can be very painful in everyday life. So here are some easy ways to overcome “It’s all about me syndrome”:
Check it out. Ask your spouse if he/she is upset with you or if you did something wrong. Clarify with your co-worker, if they are annoyed with you. When you can, verify if what you are seeing/feeling/hearing is truly about you.
The rule of 3. This rule is one of my favorites. If you can’t clarify then come up with 3 other reasons that person might be upset, ignoring you or talking about you. For example, you are at work and a co-worker who usually stops in your office first thing in the morning just walks right by without saying anything. Stop and think of 3 reasons that have nothing to do with you that that behavior occurred. 1. They are late for a meeting 2. They are upset about an argument with their wife 3. They just got reprimanded for talking too much.
Simply remind yourself ‘it isn’t all about me’. I use this tip frequently to remind myself that I am thinking my personal power to control the world is a bit out of whack. I am not responsible for everything in the world. If someone is upset with me and I am unaware, it is their responsibility to let me know they are upset. I don’t have to be a mind reader and take care of everyone and everything in the world.
Do you deal with this syndrome? How do you overcome it? What are some tips and tricks you have? Where has this type of misunderstanding affected your life?