What will people think?

The phrase “What will people think” is presented frequently through this website as a teaching idea that can reveal conditioning that creates conflict, struggle and resistance within.

Early in my career while working with the teachings, I saw myself drawn into the clutches of worry over what other musicians or people in the audience thought about my performance resulting in anxiety and dispelling any possible confidence in my musicianship.

I was reminded of this valuable idea today with the following quote from my friend:

“Everyone has their own set of ideas with which to evaluate life and our ideas don’t always match those of other peoples.”  Richard Carlson from the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”.  Chapter 33 “Praise and Blame are all the same”

I figured that since I had worked through this idea for a while as a musician/singer, that it was learned and never had to be remembered or watched again.

Then the blindness occurred. All of a sudden I was beset with the realization that everyone around me could see what I was doing; but I could not see who they were, what they were doing or even where they were.   So that is only one example of using the idea of “What will people think”.  Since observing it many times through the years without judging the discomfort I feel from time to time, I’ve learned to accept it for what it is.

As an example, if I’m performing a colorful song to four people in my living room, one may judge me, the second one may identify with the protagonist in the lyrics–the third may be thinking about what to cook for their party on Saturday; and the fourth may identify with a situation she experienced 20 years ago.  All that has absolutely nothing to do with me or what I’m singing.  That’s a big “aha moment” when I find myself caught in that trap.

“What will people think” is a question to ask when I hear it come out of my mouth or from others. It has been taught through the years whether blatantly or suggested unconsciously. 

Some effects I’ve noticed from listening internally to this commonly heard phrase is that it sabotages any positive view of myself creating a need to somehow change myself to what I imagine they think I should be.

I sometimes get caught up in a false need to impress by whatever means the mind can conjure up by telling of my accomplishments or putting on some sort of a front–the mind is very busy with that noise.  Certainly we need to use a sales pitch if we’re job hunting; but perhaps we can become hypnotized by worrying “what will people think” to our detriment.  

I’ve noticed that the mind likes to convince this awareness that it knows “what people think”; and I have heard myself repeating these misconceptions I believed to others as though it were true—it never is. 

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what people think of me? Maybe not! I certainly have never had the courage to ask—and if I did, it wouldn’t be a true picture.  It would only be what they thought about me at that moment and tomorrow would be totally different.

Dr. Bob gave us quite a revelation when he said, “Do you want me to tell you what they’re thinking about you?”

The answer was, “They are wondering what you think about them!”  Ha-ha, isn’t that really funny!

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