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Your “Everybody”

June 8, 2009

I’m still out of town until tomorrow, so here’s another post I published earlier in the year. Hope you enjoy it!

I was coaching a client yesterday who was feeling terribly off center due to some family circumstances that caused her to feel very guilty. She’s got an ill mother, is starting a new career, and is trying to find balance. She felt like everybody thought she was a bad daughter for not immediately tending to her elderly mother’s each and every demand, the moment it was asked of her, and the situation was distracting her from her work and life. When I started digging I realized she was listening to her “Everybody”.

You’ve got an Everybody, too. Say you’re thinking of taking off a year from your high-paying, but extremely stressful, job to travel the world. You will have to give up your position and leave your career future to the fates. You really, really want to go, but when a friend asks you what’s holding you back from making the commitment, you say something along the lines of, “Everybody is telling me it’s a terrible idea”, “Everybody thinks it’s a stupid career move”, or “Nobody gets why I’m doing this and they’re all making fun of me.”

In all reality, there are probably three or four people who make up your Everybody. It could be your family, some influential friends, or a group, like a club or other organization.

In the case of my client, it was three older women who attended church with her mother. Yes, three church ladies and their phone calls were tearing her life apart! Once I had her name the people who made her feel this way, I asked her to see if she could name some people, preferably more than three, who supported her and knew she was a loving, supportive daughter. She named five off the bat, without having to pause to think.

Yet, like the rest of us, this small group of negative people, even smaller than her positive support group, had caused immense tension and stress in her life! When I asked her which group she felt loved her more, she named the supportive group. When I asked her which group she felt happier to be around, she named the supportive group. When I asked her which group made her feel alive, worthy, interesting, and who she’d rather take a tropical vacation with, she named the positive group!

In this case, just pointing out that she was listening to her Everybody was enough to lighten the load on her mind. If you’re struggling with something and realize you’re listening to your Everybody instead of your heart, here are some ways to break away.

  • Fill your life with positive feedback. You want to fill your life with the good stuff from as many sources as you can find. Did you get a beautiful thank you note from a student? A stunning review from your boss? A love letter from your sweetheart? Anything that makes you feel good will work, and if it’s not something you have written down, make a list! List the time you got the huge promotion, lost 20 pounds, won Scrabble, or brought down the house with your Karaoke rendition of “Stayin’ Alive”. Keep these items and the list nearby at all times! Make copies and post them up around the house. My client decided to post a list by her two home phones, as this was where she was when on the phone with the church ladies.
  • Talk to everybody about your Everybody. Does your best friend really think your dad always knows what’s right for you? Probably not. Find out, from people who know you well and love you deeply, what they think about those people whose rules you are living your life by. You might be surprised by what they say!
  • Hang with your tribe. This might be obvious, but…stay the hell away from those people who are making your life miserable! Hang out with people who tell you you’re on the right track, that they’re proud of your accomplishments, and that you’re great just because you’re you!

Be Joyful!

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