I often find myself thinking “Do other people think this way?” It’s generally not a helpful or good feeling thought for me. Louis Theroux and Steven Bartlett facilitated a MASSIVE mindset shift! Perhaps they can for you too?
Do other humans think this?
There was a time, at school and college, when I embraced being ‘weird.’ I was the first in my year to wear Dr Martin boots and wear an ex-army jacket. I wore my weirdness with pride.
Later though, as I entered the ‘adult’ world when leaving home aged sixteen, I found that not ‘fitting in,’ became a struggle for me. I was quite bewildered by the fact that I didn’t really ‘fit’ with any of the friendship groups I frequented, I always felt a bit of an outsider in any group I was in, even those I was really loved and accepted by.
I still wore my ‘weirdness’ with pride, dressing and behaving in ways which were a little alternative shall we say to ‘normal’ society. I hung out with homeless people, travellers, addicts, clubbers, freedom-seekers. I didn’t really fit in with many of them either for the most part.
I felt incredibly alone
I felt incredibly alone in those times and I admitted to myself that really, I wanted to be able to fit in with ‘normal’ society and I actually couldn’t. I didn’t have the skills or the personality for that to happen. So I set out on a path to work out what it is that ‘normal’ people do differently to me. I believed I could learn to ‘fit in.’
I started with how I kept my home. I became the best student ever of FlyLady – a wonderful woman online who helps you to learn how to keep your home clean, tidy and under control – something I’d struggled to do my whole life.
Her systems are so much more than decluttering and cleaning, it’s all about self-care, self-respect and self-love at the end of the day. I went from being ashamed of my home, to being 10 mins from guest ready which made a huge difference.
I then tackled how I looked. I asked for sessions with a stylist for my Birthday present. Until this point, I’d lived in hand-me-downs and charity shop clothes. I’d never learnt what suited me, rather what I could get away with wearing. When I went into clothes shops I would only ever look at the sale rail and would inevitably try on things which looked awful and come out feeling bewildered. I could see other people looking ‘put-together,’ but I had no idea how they did it. When I tried to look ‘put-together’ I always missed the mark by a long shot and knew it.
Spending time with a stylist was both challenging and life-changing. I was amazed by how she could pick out piece after piece which suited and elevated me. I came away with a capsule wardrobe which I LOVED and felt great in.
I was so surprised by how much my confidence increased by feeling good about the way I looked in my clothes. Up until that point, I’d always thought it was a bit vain to be too concerned about how you looked. Now I understood it.
Note to self – maybe it’s time to have another package with a personal stylist! I think it’s great to update my knowledge as I’ve aged, my body shape and size have changed a lot since then!
I found I could fit in
So after these changes (and a TON of therapy, personal development work and counselling training,) I found I could ‘fit in’ with ‘normal’ people in a way I couldn’t before. In the past, I’d put them on a pedestal and assumed I wouldn’t be accepted.
I found that although I’m often still considered the ‘weird-one’ in many situations, I’m no longer intimidated by people no matter their ‘position in society.’ I don’t always feel comfortable with everyone, but I truly believe we’re all equal and find it frustrating when other people don’t! I’ve now been accepted and embraced by many wonderful ‘normal’ people and ‘weirdos’ alike!
I’m highly sensitive and very introverted – I need a lot of alone time to fill my batteries, which has its challenges. I prefer one-to-one meetings rather than groups. I still often feel ‘weird’ and for me, until now it’s often continued not to feel like a positive thing. When I allow it, it serves to make me feel separate and disconnected from others which is never good for the soul! Again, I find myself thinking ‘Do other people think this?!!!!!’
Total game changer
The other day I heard something that was a total game changer for me……….. I listened to a podcast episode of “Diaries of a CEO with Steven Bartlett” where he interviewed Louis Theroux. Louis is a documentary maker who is famed for making series by spending time with people from the fringes of society or those with very different ways of life, experiences or belief systems.
He once did a show called ‘Louis Theroux A different Brain.’ After listening to the podcast, it occurred to me that Louis has a different brain and it’s probably one of the many reasons I’ve always been drawn to him and his work. I’ve always loved everything he does, he gives insight into the lives of people who I’d never in a million years get/choose to spend time with. He shows a world view and experience so vastly different from mine which I always find tremendously fascinating.
Only the week before I’d said to my husband, I’d love to hear Louis Theroux being interviewed by Louis Theroux! Well seeing as that’s not really possible, the universe delivered the very next best thing (if not better!) Louis being interviewed by my current favourite podcaster/interviewer/conversationalist/change maker/thought leader – Steven Bartlett.
I’ve no doubt there’ll be a whole other blog post about why I Love Steven Bartlett and his podcast so much but suffice to say he asks all the right questions and is a breath of fresh air from a new generation. He makes honesty, integrity and vulnerability not only acceptable, but aspirational.
Does that sound weird? Do other people think this? I suspect that when we can genuinely let go of this and not give a damn, we find the freedom we’ve been seeking.
Anyway, during the interview, I heard Louis say several times, something like “Is that weird? Does that sound weird? Do other people think this?” Or similar. (I haven’t gone back and re-listened so I’m not sure how many times he said it, if indeed at all, but it’s what I took away from listening!) These are things I find myself thinking/saying with some frequency. What blew me away was, that his very next sentence was always something along the lines of “But I’m sure a lot of people think like that.”
I was taken aback by his totally different attitude about being weird compared to mine! He totally made it ok. Each time he affirmed that he’s undoubtedly not the only person to think like that. For me, this immediately brings a sense of connection and belonging as opposed to my usual line of thinking which goes along the lines of – I’m so weird – nobody else thinks like this – I’m so odd – I’m different (in a bad way) to everyone else. This leads me to feelings of disconnection and being alone. It takes me on a downward spiral, even if it’s just a small one. It’s a self-inflicted downward spiral I could do without!
I was fascinated by the difference between the outcome of Louis’s thoughts about being weird and my own. I decided to pinch Louis’s thinking and try it on for size because it was a lightbulb moment; What he was saying was absolutely undoubtedly 100% true. Just because I may think and behave differently to many or most of the people I know, doesn’t mean that there aren’t millions of people around the world thinking along similar lines to me, and just that thought alone feels so much lighter, more connected, more fun, more compassionate, more caring and more true.
Playing with this thought lead me to realise that it’s a super handy tool to call in any time I’m feeling less than good, when I’m feeling unwell, when I’m procrastinating, when I’m angry, when I’m rushing, when I’m hungry! Any time when I’m prone to a thought leading to me feeling a bit down on myself. It suddenly makes me feel much more connected to others, but not only that, it helps me to feel more connected to myself.
Aiming compassionate truth right at yourself is always a recipe towards connection with the larger ineffable powerful aligned part of you and that always feels really, really, really, good. Do other people feel like this? Do you feel like this?
I’d Love to know if you try this handy little trick, email me at email@example.com to let me know how you get on.
And a massive Thank You to Louis Theroux and Steven Bartlett for delivering it to me. It’s one of those simple little tools that can become a game changer if you allow it. Especially for all those who habitually isolate themselves due to their past experiences and habits of thought.
Heather Robinson is a Coach who helps people to feel more accomplished on a daily basis. If you’d like to explore working with her, get in touch.