What other people think of me is none of my business.
Their opinion of me and what they think of me is none of my business.
In fact, their opinion has very little to do with me. Their opinion is about them, their thoughts, their view of the world, their limitations, their fears, and their life. I can not control their opinion of me and, when I try, I end up this twisted, odd, disempowered version of myself. Learning the lesson that what other people think of me is none of my business has been the most freeing and liberating lessons of my life.
Why is this the most liberating lesson of my life? Why do I encourage my clients to let go of worrying what others are thinking about them? When we want people to like us, we act in certain ways and do certain things that aren’t in alignment with our true self. We twist and transform into some fake version of ourselves that we think others will like. When we act out-of-alignment with who we are, we mislead those that we are in relationship with. How? When I say yes but really want to say no, I’m actually lying to people. Why not be honest? Trust those around me to make the decision to continue to be around the real me or not. Half the time we are trying to get people who we don’t even really like to like us. Have you ever done that? The random mom at the playground or at the meeting? You sign up for some duty you don’t want to do and don’t have time for so that Mrs. Busybody thinks you are a “good mom”? Let go of caring what others think and free yourself to bring your true gifts to this world. Click To Tweet Sign up for what you’re good at. Sign up for what you enjoy. Sign up because YOU approve of YOU when you do certain things, not because you’re looking for someone else’s approval.
It’s not an easy jump to go from caring about what others think to living a life in alignment with your desires and values. Not only do you have years of programing encouraging you to be a “good girl”, your DNA is actually wired to seek others approval. We are born with the need to connect, we are wired to seek love and approval. Our families and our schools also groom us to be what I call a “people pleaser”; someone who puts other’s needs before their own; someone who thinks it’s more important for others to be happy than for them to be happy. I overhear people every day teaching those around them to put others needs ahead of their own or to take responsibility for how others feel: “Please play with Sally so she’s not sad” or “Eat your mother-in-law’s brownie or she’ll be upset” or “I invited her to my brunch so she wouldn’t feel left out.”
If you need a refresher on how we are not responsible for other people’s feelings, please go back to my post on emotional intelligence 101. We do not have the power to make people think or feel a certain way. How do I know this? Try this the next time you walk into a Starbucks. If you had the power to make people think a certain way about you based on your actions, you could make everyone look up at you and think “Wow, I really like her outfit”? Ludicrous, right? In the first place, half the people in Starbucks aren’t even aware you’ve walked in. Of the ones who do notice you, one might think “her haircut reminds me of my sister. Ugh” or “Wow, her boots are the best, I might talk to her”, etc.. Their thoughts are about them, their life, and their experiences. But that’s what so many of us spend our lives trying to do. We pack the perfect lunch for our kid so teachers think we’re great moms, or we write the perfect social media post so everyone thinks our family has it together. Sorry to be the truth teller here, but you can’t control what other people think.
I urge you to move away from caring so much about what people think or from seeking other people’s approval for what you’re doing. I spent so many years saying yes when I meant no. I spent so many years denying and suppressing my feelings for fear that they would upset others. I spent so many years not saying what I really thought for fear of what that someone else would think. I am not blaming others in my life for how I acted. I am also not blaming myself. I did the best I could with the tools I had. I am responsible for my actions and, through my work with my coach, I understand why I acted the way I did. I understand why I let others dictate and drive my life. It is through this understanding, that I have been able to let go of other’s opinions of me. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I say the first step to anything is awareness. Bringing consciousness to your actions. The ability to look at your life through a lens of compassion is the greatest and most illuminating gift that you can give yourself. Click To Tweet
I say it again: it’s not easy. People around you are used to you being the “yes woman”. They are used to you doing what they want you to do. When you start acting and showing up differently, there will be push back. Expect it. I mean come on, you can’t blame them. If you were them, you’d resist at first also. It’s nice to be around someone who does what you want and agrees with what you say. Stand your ground and understand that those who are pushing back are pushing back because you’ve presented yourself as a different person. There will be those who choose to move on from your friendship or relationship because you are not who you presented yourself to be. That is fine. They are not your people.
There will be those who choose to move on from your friendship or relationship because you are not who you presented yourself to be. That is fine. They are not your people. Click To TweetYour people will show themselves. Relationships will form with people who stay or new ones who come into your life. These relationships are deeper and more fulfilling than any of your past. When you’re being yourself, you draw in people who are meant to be with the real you. When you show up as yourself and drop your fake, pretend life, you form real connections and your self confidence rockets. When you’re working so hard to please everyone else you end up running yourself into the ground. You can only keep this up for so long because your internal conflict and resentment grows and builds. At a cellular level, you know you’re not being true to yourself. Many get diagnoses around this time as their physical self literally can’t stand the internal strife any longer. Others have what I call middle aged malaise. They look around to see that they have everything they always thought they wanted but don’t feel like they thought they’d feel with all that they have. What went wrong? Nothing.
Life is a journey and a series of lessons. You’ve learned what you need to learn, you’ve tolerated what you’ve needed to tolerate, and now your inner warrior is waking up. It’s time to start speaking up for yourself to yourself. It’s time to start saying no when you mean no. It’s time to value your own opinion more than others opinions of you. It’s time to let others be wrong about you. It’s time to please yourself. Sticking up for yourself to yourself. Choosing to be yourself is not easy but it is worth it. Letting go of what others think of me and what others say about me, allowed me to be ME. Not only does this feel better every damn day, but it helps my physical health by letting go of years of resentment and bitterness that had built up because of my actions. I let my inner warrior out and am now allowed to be free and authentic. I opened up the ability to be me!
I am here to walk on this path by your side. I’m here to hold your hand as you start the journey of meeting yourself. Of giving yourself permission to be that amazing creature that you are. Next week I will write and speak of different ways that you can find freedom from being a people pleaser or from caring so much about what others think. For now, begin to bring awareness to where, when and how you’re seeking others’ approval. Where in your life are you doing things because of what others will think? Where are you saying yes when you want to say no? How do you feel afterwards? Bonus points if you get out a piece of paper and write some of this down. Our first step in changing anything is awareness. We have to bring consciousness to the actions we are taking before we can change anything. This week bring awareness to where you’re doing these things. Please don’t beat yourself up for this because that won’t help anyone. Rather, look at your actions and choices as you would a friends’. When we know better, we do better. It’s time to do better. Your inner warrior is waking up to tell you, your opinion and approval of you is the only approval that matters.