110 - Respectfully Not Giving a ...

Bear with me for a minute on this one so that I can properly explain this.

Wanna know a weird fact about me? I LOVE grocery shopping! Yes, I know many people dread this unavoidable task. Not me, though! Being the foodie I am, it’s a weekly journey to Mecca for me.

It’s also a common place to see and be seen by many other people.  When we are seen by others, it’s just human nature for others to define us. We all do it, don’t we? We see people and our minds form opinions based on looks, mannerisms, and actions. I wouldn’t say we do it all the time. Sometimes our minds are thankfully preoccupied with more important tasks.

I would say, however, when there is an obvious difference in someone such as in weight, appearance, and ability, people more easily come up with definitions as a way of explaining what’s outside the “norm.”

Boy, he must be lazy to let himself get that overweight.

That woman not must have much to be dressed like that.

I wouldn’t know what to do if I had to get around in a wheelchair.

All of these thoughts that pop into our heads, sometimes with very little effort. We look at someone and BOOM, we have a definition of them, especially if they have a difference.

I used to really struggle with this.

I’d be doing a mundane task such as grocery shopping and suddenly feel eyes on me. Sometimes there would be comments attached to the stares. They would go like this:

You do so well. I know this is intended to be a compliment, but to me, it’s a backhanded one as it follows the assumption that because of my disability, I’m not meant to be successful at things.

Do you need help? When I am just cruising along the produce and dairy sections, indicating no sign of having difficulty, just perhaps moving in a different way than others.

You are so courageous. No, just hungry, that’s why I’m at the grocery store.

Now you may be saying, those comments don’t seem so bad. You’re right, they could definitely be much worse and more cruel. However, I use these benign statements to demonstrate  how subtle comments have the power to define you.

Given the three examples above the definitions I took on of myself as a young woman were incompetent, helpless, and vulnerable (which was covered with the word courage). I would come home from the grocery store carrying way more than the bags.

It wasn’t until I was well into my 30s – and walking into the grocery store – one day when the light of wisdom (which can sometimes only come with age) hit me.

People are going to think whatever they want about me. I can’t control that. I can only stay true to who I know I am.

From that moment on, I became less aware of the stares. People say that I’m now oblivious to the stares. I also have fewer and fewer incidences of  others making comments that indicate they  see me very differently than I see myself. Funny how total strangers can pick up on our energy and respond differently to us.

The fundamental key to living happily and successfully with a disability is to learn how to define yourself and keep returning to that as you filter out the definitions of others.

This can easily - and helpfully - apply to dating. Now let me say the obvious, going on a date or even being on a dating app is a thousand times more vulnerable than going to buy milk and bread. But you can channel the same energy of People are going to think what ever they want about me. I can’t control that. I can only stay true to who I know I am.  While on dates.

Ask yourself, “What would it feel like if I didn’t care as much about what people were thinking of me and just stayed focused on what I knew to be true about me?”

Over time I turned this into what I coin as “Respectfully Not Giving a $#@&” about what people think of you. I do emphasize respectfully because more kindness is something I think the world always needs and we can disagree with someone but still be respectful of them as a human being.

Think about if you were to respectfully not give a $#@&, or as the great self help leader Wayne Dyer said What other people think of me is none of my business. One of the highest places you can get to is being independent of the good opinions of other people.

How would that cause you to feel differently and perhaps have you showing up differently on a date or talking to people in an app? Would you feel calmer, more self assured? And consequently, would that then allow the dynamic parts of your personality to shine through even more?

This is a good question in general, not just in dating, if you respectfully did not care about the opinions and judgments of others, how would you show up more? What risks would you be less afraid to take?

I refer to my first date with my husband a lot because it completely transformed who I was on the dating scene and I stepped into this version of myself that acknowledged my disability and expressed confidence that I had much to offer someone. There’s no mistaken that led to beginning my most significant relationship as an adult.

You know how I like to poke fun at these online articles which present like they’re sharing new information about what we have lived with for years. In this article, The Challenges of Dating With a Disability, a medical student is quoted, also summarizing this approach of not caring what people think,

From the article, The Challenges of Dating with a Disability"I just didn’t concern myself with the thought that it may have been my disability, or my personality was the reason for not getting a date," she said. 

Where Do We Go From Here? 

  • Free yourself from the thoughts, opinions, and judgements of others, especially in dating. Pursue your longings, chase your dreams, and most of all focus on all you have to offer.
  • Download The Power to Attract guide which is a key principle I teach people I work with on growing confidence to date. Focus on what will pull people towards you, not what their hearts may be closed to. Check out episode 


Episode 1 - I'm Just So Uncomfortable

Episode 10 - How to Cultivate the Power to Attract

Episode 28 - Attract, Don't Chase

Who Defines You...at the Grocery Store (blog)

Check out our Dating Memberships:

Dating Made Easier (for all people wanting to date) - is a monthly membership for anyone (with or without disabilities) who wants support and guidance in dating skills and getting the RESULTS you want in dating and relationships. Click here to learn more.

Supporting Dating and Relationships membership (for special educators and professionals in disability services) - is for professionals in the disability field who are looking for training and resources to effectively help students/people with disabilities in developing dating and relationship skills. Click here to learn more.

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Artwork photo by Elevate