In a previous blog post, I mentioned, “The Infamous They,” and a friend asked me to elaborate on what exactly I meant. You’ve encountered Them anytime someone starts a sentence with, “You know what They say….”
And while They often say inspiring and wise tidbits of advice, that’s merely how They infiltrate your mind. Once They’re in, They have an altogether different sort of message.
At Their essence, They are the elusive, undefined body of judgers. The judgers who decide whether or not a passion is worth pursuing. Whether you should go big or go home. Whether you are on your way to success or failure.
They infiltrate just as inspiration dwindles to a dull flicker. Just as you take that first step past your comfort zone. When your confidence, like the tide, retreats and exposes the foraging crabs of passion and fragmented shells of ideas not yet ready for human interaction.
They stand before the next incoming wave and dissect all that was uncovered. They keep you down when you’re on your way up.
Suddenly, questions arise:
“But what will They think?”
“What if They know I don’t really know what I’m doing?”
“They have already done what I want to do.”
Those insecurities spiral and weave around your dreams until all of it’s knotted together and you don’t know where to begin to untangle it all.
They become the critics none of us need or want. But somehow you value Their opinion more than your own. More than anyone you trust.
They are the bully telling you to “stay down” when you were born to fight. When all you want to do is keep fighting, even if it means getting beaten to a pulp. And yet, you don’t really want to be beaten.
So you listen. You listen because They know best. They know when you’re going to make a fool of yourself. When you’re wasting your time.
It’s when my friends bring up “The Infamous They” that suddenly a switch goes off in my head. When I can see Them outside of myself, and I know—one hundred percent, clearly, and truly—
They don’t exist.
They’re all in our heads.
Which means They don’t actually care either way what we do, how we do it, or how successful we become.
And yet, They come back again and again.
And sometimes They win.
If we don’t confront Them. If we don’t confide in those we trust and expose those judgers for what They really are, then all our passions and dreams stay improbable and impossible. Then we let Them win.
So when They start to take over your thoughts and make you question your stroke of inspiration, the book you’ve been writing for five years, the idea you thought was amazing, but now you’re not so sure—call Them out. Whether you phone your best friend and say, “They’re at it again,” so he or she can remind you that They hold no power over you. Or speak directly to Them and say, “You don’t decide when I’m done with something. I do.”
Voice the fears and release Them from your headspace.
Eventually, “The Infamous They” can become a tool by which you measure your doubt, your confidence, your trust in yourself. Once you recognize those fear indicators, once you see when and why that tide of confidence recedes, then you can begin to reverse-condition those thoughts and turn them into motivation to continue on your path to success—whatever that may mean for you, not Them.