It’s you, not me.


As I focus this week on wellness for leaders, I have been thinking about emotional wellbeing in our collaboration with others. Maybe it’s “imposter syndrome” or self-doubt in general, but it seems we spend too much time assuming that what someone else says or does is related to how we acted or what they think of us.

My experience tells me, and I can see from my clients and understand from other leaders that people mostly behave following their individual needs and desires.  However, we often don’t make that most straightforward answer our first assumption.

I see this concept often for clients with their husbands, wives or partners.  We might assume our spouse is angry with us because they don’t talk to us when they get home, and wonder what we have done wrong.  Maybe the truth is that after a long day at work with other people, they need some downtime alone.  Once they have this, they may be more than willing to talk.  We can choose to take the approach of believing their mood is their responsibility unless they suggest we may help them.

As another example, I make contact with many people to catch up and see how they are doing.  Often I don’t get a response, even when its multiple connections.  Initially, I assumed that this was because they weren’t interested in either catching up with me or in my coaching.  Then I meet them somewhere, and they are so keen to talk and catch up, I realise that they are busy, a little bit scared of me (Yes it happens!) or just got distracted but are eager to meet.  Their lack of response is about them not about me.

“Assume” makes an ASS of me and you, right?  However, we often assume the worst-case scenario because of our doubts and fears.  We catastrophise that we have said or done the wrong thing or that someone doesn’t like us anymore or thinks poorly of us.

I have often heard people make all kinds of predictions about what is going to happen next when they see someone else behave in a certain way.  That person may do something entirely different for entirely different reasons than we assume.  They will act according to their priorities.

I love this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt; “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do.” She is right!

Ultimately we can control our behaviour but not anyone else. It’s helpful to take a positive approach when we start worrying about someone else’s behaviour by assuming it is about them.  We don’t need to start blaming ourselves.

Refraining from blaming ourselves for the behaviour of others helps us to keep our emotional well being strong.  Then we have the resilience to accept and act when it is genuinely our behaviour which needs to change.  We aren’t perfect.

Is there someone who upsets your wellbeing as you think you did something wrong or they don’t like you?  Can you reframe it positively and see it’s not about you?  If you want to stay in the growth zone and out of the burnout zone, take care of your emotional wellbeing.



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