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Do you care TOO MUCH what other people think?

by Janette Ward

Have you like me, allowed other people’s opinions of you to alter the way you look, the choices you make, even how you feel about yourself? The truth is to a certain extent everyone cares what other people think and that goes back to our early ancestors when it was vital to belong to the tribe in order to survive the dinosaurs and Saber-toothed tigers.

Today the need for approval and acceptance begins early and our cultural and social norms encourage it. If you respect and love (and are loved and respected) by someone, what they think of you does matter but what is more important is your opinion of yourself. Though it is damaging if we care so much that we are not able to be ourselves. Deep inside of us, along with our need to be liked, we also have a need to be authentic, to think and live in our own unique way. We thrive when we get along with others and think and act independently at the same time. If we aren’t doing both, we’re out of balance and when we are out of balance we are vulnerable to emotional or mental distress.

Dr Seuss said: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

I have often heard older people say that they care less what other people think as they get older because they have wisdom, but we don’t have to wait until we are older and wiser.

So how can we overcome this need for approval? Firstly, it is important to start to recognize and acknowledge that despite there being 7.6 billion humans on the planet, each one of us is unique and amazing, that no-one else has your particular gifts, qualities, knowledge, skills and experience. For yourself and humanity, it is essential that you are able to express your uniqueness without fear.

Once you can do this you can back yourself, you trust yourself and that is a powerful and comfortable place to be.

Secondly, people don’t think about you as much as you think they do. Most people think in terms of themselves and what affects them and their lives. Think about it for a moment, how often do you think about a decision a friend has made? Maybe a few minutes but then we go back to thinking about our lives, our decisions, situations, feelings etc. Sometimes I think to myself, I don’t care what the peanut gallery thinks!

Thirdly, something that has really helped me is to create a positive affirmation. For example, “I love and accept myself exactly as I am” or “I am doing my best and my best is always good enough”.

Learn to think in positive affirmations. Affirmations can be any statement you make. Too often we think negatively, and negative affirmations only create more of what you say you don’t want.

Continually saying positive things about yourself opens the channels in your consciousness to create that and believe it. It is likely that you won’t believe the positive affirmation initially and that is fine and normal, I recommend you say it lots until you do believe it. Doing this changed the way I think about myself and my life.

The fourth suggestion is to surround yourself with people who love, respect and accept you – it’s important for your emotional and mental health.

Fifth is to find someone who inspires you, a role model, someone you admire, someone who has overcome their fears, follows their path/dream/passion, is courageous and does not apologise for being themselves despite being condemned or criticised, i.e. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, etc.

Finally, I think it is interesting to consider what the Top 5 Regrets of people who are dying are:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier

If you would like to attend a workshop or retreat or one to one on this subject I can be contacted at janette@circleswork.co.uk

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