You’re not the center of the universe.

I know that may sound harsh, but it’s a powerful insight once you accept it.

That email you’re not getting a reply to? It’s not necessarily about what you wrote, but what the recipient is going through.

That business you’re not getting? It’s not necessarily about whether or not you’ve got the chops, but instead about what’s going on for everybody else.

That harsh word that just cut you to your core? It’s not necessarily about your relationship or interaction with the other person, but instead about some hard battle they’re fighting elsewhere.

The kind word that goes unnoticed? It’s not about them being ungrateful, but about what else is going on in the world. (Check your heart if you expect a return from a gift.)

Your good energy that goes out in the world? Well, it doesn’t always come back in the way you think it will or should. But maybe it reached someone who needed it more?

From one perspective, it seems like we cause a reaction. From another, it looks like we’re the agent being acted upon. It’s maddening that both are true, but not being the center of the universe means that we’re a part of a vast network of interactions, causes, and effects, most of which we can’t account for and a small few of which we can actually understand.

The next time you’re fretting about something or too focused on what you’re up to, take a second to reflect on the fact that you’re not the center of the universe. You might find that you don’t need any other explanation — and that a lot of emotional weight is lifted from your shoulders.


  • Charlie Gilkey

    Author, Speaker, Business Strategist, Coach

    Charlie Gilkey helps people start finish the stuff that matters. He's the founder of Productive Flourishing, author of the forthcoming Start Finishing and The Small Business Lifecycle, and host of the Productive Flourishing podcast. Prior to starting Productive Flourishing, Charlie was a Joint Force Military Logistics Coordinator while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Philosophy. He lives with his wife, Angela, in Portland, Oregon.