Updated: Jan 16, 2021
“Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?” ―Scott Turow, Ordinary Heroes
We often take the things people tell us about ourselves and make it mean something about us.
A few years ago, I had a boss who told me my accent was intimidating. (this was in response to a customer who was dissatisfied with the service I provided). Now, I admit my service was not up to par in that specific case, though I didn't quite understand what my accent had to do with it.
Now, we can have a philosophical debate on whether her words were ethical or not, but that will distract you, and me from the real issue here and from what happened next.
After her comment, going into work was very difficult for me. I was angry and hurt. I became hyperaware of the way I spoke, tried to avoid answering the phones when she was around, and began making phone calls to clients from my cell phone outside the office. In short, it hurt my ability to perform my job as that comment was lingering in my head.
After a short while, and with a lot of coaching, I began to see the price I was paying for holding on to that resentment. I held the belief that I was "right”, and she was "wrong”, and It wasn't serving me. Because as she was moving on with things, I was still living with it.
What she didn't know was that at that time, I was living with unresolved self-esteem issues and stories around being an immigrant and not having "perfect" English. And that her comment met me in that place of inferiority.
So yes, she said that, people say things all the time, and it is our responsibility to choose how to respond to them. I drowned myself in self-pity and sabotaged my work as a result of it. That is a lot of power to give to one person over one comment.
In the words of the great Les Brown - "Someone's opinion of you, does not need to become your reality"
Watch in the link below how billionaires do it too.
In the picture: My 6th birthday, holding my cousin's hand as I am watching my best friends whispering to each other and thinking to myself: Are they talking about me? Here's another story in the making...