And You Are....?
My son has officially crossed into that horrible stage between being a child and a teenager. He's a bratty little, self-centered completely involved in the concept of ME tween. At 11 years old, he is pretty sure that everything we say, do, eat, forget, wash, lose, break or discuss, has to do with him. I can call his name 5 times and when he finally emerges from his room, claims he didn't hear me. But if I am attempting to utter a simple observation about the news to my husband in quiet conversation while cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, he pipes up with a "what did you say?" Somehow, he believes that his parents are either plotting against him or whatever we are speaking about must include him. At his age, the world is his and others are just players. He is the sun and we revolve around him. And this is pretty normal behavior developmentally for his age. That doesn't make it any easier.
Living each day as if the world revolves around you must be exhausting. I can tell. He rages when things do not go his way. Life is totally unfair. Reasonable consequences are the worst. When things go right, which is actually more often than not, there is still some measure of outrage because the rest of us failed to acknowledge the greatness before us with adequate fervor. I find myself saying far too often - "Get a grip, dude - everything is not all about you."
Life is not all about him. Or me. Or you. It is actually not all about any of us....or it shouldn't be. And believing that it is sets us up for all sorts of disasters. When we believe that our experiences, our feelings, our thoughts and all that happens to us are at the mercy of the world around us, or that everything around us is somehow directed to us or for us specifically, we are laying the groundwork for a whole lot of disappointment. Because it is just not true. We are important. But not in every circle, every conversation, every situation, or every condition.
This "all about me" illusion is just that. An illusion. We think that others discussing something around us in hushed tones means they must be talking about us, though we didn't hear anything specific. We just know it. And when we miss the bus we believe the driver's smile as he drove off was directed at our misfortune. And when we are involved in an argument we are certain the other party knows exactly how we are feeling, and if they don't know, it must be because they aren't paying attention. The list goes on and on. We get hurt by what we think others should know. We misunderstand because of what we don't see. We create a whole narrative around the idea that whatever we need/feel/experience/believe is known, agreed upon, and worthy of everyone's attention.
It is an endless cycle of blaming others for your hurt because they should be able to read your mind. They should care about you. They should behave in a certain way because that is what makes you happy. If it is starting to sound a little crazy that is because it is. The reason others do not do what you want, as you want, when you want is not because you simply don't matter. It is because you are not the only thing that matters. And in many cases that indifference or disregard you feel is not directed to you personally, but rather to any and all that is outside of the realm of focus. It can't always be about you. No one has the bandwidth to keep up with your feelings and needs like you do. Others do not need to be on the hook for doing what you want. As I tell me son, it is not all about you.
You are important. To yourself. Your importance to others is absolutely optional. Remembering this is liberating. You get to be the one responsible for your feelings - not others. You get to be the one who watches your back. You get to attend to your needs whenever you so desire. You get to let things go. It releases us from the burden of believing the universe is somehow working against us personally. We learn to understand that we are one of many, and highly unlikely to be singled out as the reason, cause, ultimate source or pointed object of disaffection in all cases and every situation. We can take control again, remembering that the universe owes us nothing. It is a big world. If everything were about you there would be no room for the rest of us. It is not all about you. It never was.
My son was busy working on a project this afternoon. His younger sister was being rather pesky, asking lots of questions and demanding his attention. "Are you making that for me?" she asked hopefully. "No, Rae. Everything is not for you - geez." I looked at him, aware of the irony in his statement. And just as I was about to capture the teachable moment, Ben shouted "Why does everyone ALWAYS have to bother me! Life is so unfair!" Missed the opportunity this time but I'm certain this particular lesson will come up again....sooner than I want to admit.