[guestpost]Jill Williamson is an award-winning author of several young adult books. She is fun-loving, sweet, and a great author. If you love fantasy, you’re definitely going to want to check out her site and her books![/guestpost]
Are you a gifted interpreter? I don’t mean language, I mean faces. Ever interpret a face?
•The pastor scowled at me. I hope he’s not mad because I made that joke.
•My sister is crying. I must have hurt her feelings somehow.
•My friend gave me a dirty look. She’s probably mad I didn’t go to lunch with her last week.
See a pattern? None of these assumptions are based on fact. This is interpreting faces. And with me, it doesn’t stop there. My imagination takes my assumption further and further from reality.
•A coworker just scowled at me. He must be mad. Maybe he misunderstood what I said about his messy desk. But that was a joke! He knew that, right? Or maybe it’s because I talk too much. That story I told about my vacation probably kept him from getting work done. Probably why he worked through lunch. Maybe I should apologize. But maybe he’s not mad, he just doesn’t like me. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and I have a higher-ranked job than he does. Does he resent me? But that’s unfair. I’ve worked hard for my position and…
Do you see the inward spiral here?
I say “inward” because the spiral is circling around me me me. All because of one look. No facts. No words spoken. One expression that leads to assumptions, worry, fear, and, if it goes on too long, despair.
I realize not all people do this. (Whew!) And I never set out to do it. For me, it’s a bad habit, like biting one’s fingernails or procrastinating. If you have this same problem, here are some things to try and remember before you start apologizing for imaginary offenses or talking to the boss about fictional conflicts with coworkers.
1. Recognize this as worry.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34
We all have enough on our To Do lists without adding imaginary problems. If someone looked at you funny, maybe he had a stomachache or suddenly remembered he left the stove on at home. (Click here for a humorous example.) God did not give us the gift of reading minds so we shouldn’t try.
2. Recognize this as a pride thing.
“Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” – Proverbs 29:23
Obsessing negatively about yourself is just another form of narcissism. When you catch yourself obsessing about good or bad things you’ve done—or think you might have done—stop. Remind yourself that this train of thought is unhealthy, unproductive, and only making you feel worse.
3. Recognize real problems.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13
If a real problem arises, apologize for your part in it and ask forgiveness. That’s all you can do. Don’t dwell on it for the rest of your life. Apologize and move on.
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Life is too short to waste interpreting faces. My husband and I were teasing each other about wrinkles the other day. My husband’s wrinkles are at the corners of his eyes and mouth because he’s an easygoing jokester. My wrinkles are right between my eyebrows because I’m a stressed-out worrier. Our wrinkles show how we’ve spend the majority of our lives so far. Do I really want to spend the rest of my life deepening my worry wrinkles? No way. I’d much rather build up some laugh wrinkles instead. So I’m trying to stop interpreting faces. It takes deliberate training, yes, but overall, it’s much less work.
Do you ever interpret faces? If not, count yourself blessed! If so, do you think you can put a stop to it?
Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several young adult books. Her latest project is The Safe Lands trilogy, is one of those creepy dystopian “This could really happen someday” stories. Inspired by the Babylonian captivity, she wanted to raise the question, “What if people lived simply to please themselves? Would life be better then?” Thus came Captives (book 1), Outcasts (book 2), and Rebels (book 3) comes out this fall. Learn more about Jill on her website www.JillWilliamson.com.
So, so true. I’ve never thought of it as a worry, but you’re right! And, I had to watch that video twice because it’s so funny. Thanks!
I love that video… LOL
Great post, Jill! My mom does this with the actions of others. If someone parks too close to her in the parking lot- watch out!
And it’s because we are focused inward. Sometimes we have to realize that a person might just be having a bad day. I had an employee that had an especially hard time with this. I told her that she couldn’t take it personally until the person ignored her or made a face three times in a row. That seemed to help.
Am I right in thinking that women have more of a problem with this than men?
Yes, I think you’re right. Though I do know one man who does this. I’ve never met any other.