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Two Main Reasons Why We’re Not Living Lives We Love
Reason one? We don’t believe a different life is possible for us.
Reason two? We are afraid of what others will think of us if we do.
Lets let that sink in.
We are not living lives we love, lives we are here to live, lives that light us up, because we either don’t believe it’s possible for us or because we’re too afraid of what others will think of us when we do.
I’ve spent many posts addressing the first reason lately; that we don’t believe a different life is possible for us. In fact, most of this past spring was directed to encouraging us to bust through our own glass ceilings in order to live that life we want to be living. Go back and relisten to them or drop a note in the comments and I will send you links to episodes specifically addressing our limiting beliefs, to help you believe bigger.
This post is all about the second reason we’re not living lives that feel good to us, the reason we aren’t living lives we are here on this planet to live. This post is all about us being afraid of what others will think when we choose to live those lives. We’re concerned with other people’s thoughts and opinions of us when we start acting or doing things we want to do.
Why Do We Care What Others Think Of Us?
Why does our concern of what others think hold us back from living the life we want to be living?
Oh dear warriors, I understand. I spent the first 35 years of my life so scared of what others would think of me. I hid my real self because of what I thought others would think if they knew or saw the real me.
I get it. I’ve been there. And yet, I’m not there today. I now let others be wrong about me. I stand in front of you a recovered people pleaser and as someone who cares very, very, very little of what others think of me. And you can too.
Where Does This Programming Come From?
The concern about what others think of us is hardwired into our DNA, dear warriors. It’s stems from our need to belong. To be part of a group. If our group of cavewomen had kicked us out, we literally would not have survived. We would have perished.
From the beginning of life, we are wired to try to fit in. We look to fit into societal structures, into our community and our neighborhood. Our parents were trying to fit into their groups at work and at home and, if you’re like most of us, they encouraged you to fit in also. They believed the message: “fit in or feel pain” and so they encouraged, pressured, and possibly even forced us to fit in.
Yet, in fitting in, in denying your true self, you feel a deeper more profound pain than you ever would have felt by not fitting into the neighborhood’s kid club. That pain lasts a couple of hours or days.
The profound pain we feel by not listening to our inner warrior, by denying our true nature, is a pain that when let loose, liberates many a woman.
If the message you got at home in your formative years was that you need to be something other than who you are, you grow up denying your true self and being, while craving to be something different. That was 100% me. I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me. I was told I laughed too loud, that I wanted too much, that I should be more ladylike, less opinionated, and to do as I was told. I was told my body was too curvy, too fleshy. I was told I dreamed too big, that I wanted too much. I was routinely told to act and to be physically smaller in every possible way. Guess what that feels like? Living a smaller life. Living like a small version of yourself.
Trying to Fit In
Yet, my dear warriors, I tried. Boy did I try.
I was so desperate for my parents love and approval. I tried to do exactly what my parents wanted me to do and to act how they wanted me to act so we didn’t stand out. The messaging I got was:
“Fit in Susie”
“Don’t rock the boat”
“Don’t draw attention to yourself or us”
“Do what everyone else is doing. Just do it better.”
The problem with living life this way is two fold. First you never feel good enough. You never reach that finish line where you receive that sort of love or approval because that love is completely conditioned love. You are told you’ll be loved if you_______ . That’s love based on conditions and you can only be something you’re not for so long. You can do it longer if you get really good at stuffing down your emotions with alcohol, eating, being super busy, blaming, etc…. Yet then warriors, it stops working. Those behaviors (the over anything…over drinking, over shopping, over working, over…) can only work for so long.
And secondly, you go through life feeling a low level hum of dissatisfaction. A whisper of “is this all there is?”, isn’t there more than this? Shouldn’t it feel different than this? Yes warriors.
There IS More Than This
There is more than this but it requires you to feel discomfort. To hear and witness others’ disappointment in you. To witness others disagreement with what you’re doing and living. To open yourself up to hearing that your way is not their way. I am here to give you permission to live the life you are here to live. I am also here to tell you that it won’t be easy. And that’s okay.
When I started paying more attention to my opinion of me than others’ opinions of me, my foundational relationships noticed. My first husband, biologic parents, and sisters rebelled. Why? Because I stopped living the life they wanted me to live. The one the neighbors would approve of; The one they could speak of at the country club.
I’m here to say, that’s fine.
That’s their job.
Let them live their life.
You are here to live your life.
When this is your background, it’s no wonder that other people’s opinions mean an awful lot to you. It is the framework of childhood acceptance and attachment. What I want to offer today is the knowledge that you are no longer that little girl or boy. Sure we need to heal those wounds and that’s where one-on-one coaching is phenomenal. Yet, there are things you can also do today. You can begin to change the programming in our head so as to lessen the importance we give to others thoughts and opinions of us.
Let’s get started today, warriors. It’s a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight but I promise you, if you keep turning back into you and your inner warrior, you will wake up one day and realize it’s been a long time since you’ve worried about what others are thinking.
Here are two tools that have helped me to stop giving a sh*t about what others think so that I could live a life that felt good to me. One without regrets or guilt. I’d like to share those with you today. Let’s call them 10 People at a Party and “The 1” Square”.
10 People At A Party
This tool has to do with our belief that we have any sort of control over what others think of us in the first place. Truly, that’s where this shape shifting begins. There has to be a piece of us that believes that in acting or doing certain things, others are going to have certain opinions about us. Here’s the thing: we can’t control what others think of us. My parents never had control over what the neighbors thought; nor do I. We don’t have the power to manipulate other peoples’ brains and this 10 people at a party tool demonstrates that.
Imagine you’ve been invited to a garden party in your neighborhood. The old me might have chosen something to wear with the thought: “I want people to think I’m casual and hip”. I would’ve chosen an outfit, earrings, and possibly what to bring so as people thought a certain way about me.
Enter reality. If I had control over what others thought of me, when I walked into the party, all ten people would be thinking the same thought about me. They would’ve been thinking some version of: “Look how casual and hip Susie looks”. Does that happen? Uh, No! First of all, of the 10 people, only 3-5 might even notice I arrived at the party. Of those that do, one might like me because of the earrings I’m wearing, one might dislike me because I’m wearing earrings. One might think I look nice because I remind her of her friend from high school while another might instantly dislike me because I remind her of her mother-in-law. Maaaaybe one person has the thought “Susie looks hip” but even that is doubtful. We have no control over other’s opinions of us, warriors. The thoughts they think in their head about us are about them and their life experiences. Let’s let them have their thoughts and opinions and focus on making our own experiences. Let’s focus on the opinion that matters: Yours. How do you think you look? Who do you think you are? Which moves us to the next tool:
1-inch Square of Paper
I got this idea from the amazing Martha Beck (Oprah’s life coach!!). Mark off a 1” square of paper and write your name on it. Now, with the space that’s left, write the names of the important people in your life who’s opinion of you matters to you.
I’ll be frank: I don’t have many names on that paper. Further, of the names that are on that paper, my name is the most important. Why? Ultimately warriors, you will find that it’s your opinion of you that matters. When you are acting in alignment with your values, in a way that’s kind and just in this society, you’re going to feel clear and calm. If someone does speak up and judge you or have an opinion about something you said or did, it’s truly not going to bother you. Rather, when you have done something or said something out of alignment with your true nature, your inner warrior, you will feel uncomfortable. I find that when the other names on that paper have an opinion about something I’ve done, if I feel confident in that action, I can let them have their opinions about me. I can let them be wrong about me.
So please warriors, consider this a permission slip to stop giving a sh*t about what others think of you and care more about what you think of you. Next week I’ll dive into your opinion and your relationship with yourself. For this week, get out your 1” square of paper and start to notice how much time you’re thinking about what other are thinking. Let them.
Magical things happen when you start paying more attention to your opinions than anyone elses. Magical things happen when you stop giving a shit. Let’s go.
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