Do you carry the weight of other people' opinions around with you? Well then you know this: that stuff is HEAVY. If we are shedding anything in 2021, let's start there, shall we?
It's human nature to want to be liked. In fact, at one point, our survival depended on it. We are primed to tune into and care about how members of our community view us. The plot twist is that our modern realities have outstripped this very natural instinct. We can define our identity independently now, and in any way we choose.
Community is still important! However, our inherent self-worth no longer needs to be tethered to the opinions of others.
With time and experience, we eventually understand that we only need a few people to be truly and steadfastly in our corner. The lukewarm, hollow approval of a hundred others is meaningless in the face of 3 or 5 solid friends.
Even though we know this, sometimes it can be difficult to stop seeking approval from 'others'. Especially if you have been raised to fear this ominous group of 'others' who you always have to consider (hi, brown folks aka "log kya kehenge" gang, I'm looking at us).
Here are a few thoughts and reminders to help you through the process of disentangling yourself from others' opinions! Good luck and be kind to yourself- you are undoing a lifetime of conditioning, it won't feel easy right away.
1. No One Is Entitled To Your Business
The day you realize you don't have to explain yourself to everyone, the second phase of your life begins.
Who we share our lives, dreams, and schemes with is It is entirely up to us. Just because someone feels entitled enough to ask (or even demand) to know details of our lives does not mean they deserve the information.
When we understand the reasons that people feel entitled, it becomes easy to poke holes in their point of view. For example, say you are young and find it difficult to stand up to people who ask intrusive questions.
Remind yourself that there is no age where privacy is irrelevant! Knowing this, you can choose to filter the information, or withhold it entirely. Identifying and shutting down entitlement will go a long way in keeping the weight of unsolicited opinions off your shoulders!
2. You Will End Up Holding Yourself Back
Being successful, content, and at peace with yourself involves taking risks in life.
This can look like going against the grain or doing something you know others wouldn't do. Imagine how difficult these crucial decisions are when we are constantly worried about what others think of us? If we prioritize the chatter and views of others, we will end up stifling our own growth.
Easing up on this gives us the courage to do what it right for us, no matter what others will think.
3. People Are Experts On Themselves (Not You)
We tend to give advice based on what WE would do. This makes sense- the most rich and well-informed perspective we will ever have is our own. Keep this is in mind when reflecting on others' opinions. What worked for them may not work for you, and what is the best for them is not necessarily the best for you!
The opinions do not need to be ill-intentioned for this to be true!
4. You Will Never Please Everyone
This is the TRUTH. No matter what you do, there is simply no way you can make everyone happy. I know, we are all aware of this. Yet, our actions do not always reflect this knowledge.
We end up stifling our own needs to please others when they may not notice or even care. The only person that loses out in this scenario is us.
If you are aiming to please anyone, make sure you are at the very top of that list!
5. People Don't Actually Care That Much
At least not nearly as much as we think they do. The truth is that the vast majority of us are focused on the drama in our own lives. We tend to falsely assume that others are thinking about us frequently.
Unless we are doing something that will actually affect another person, it will become a subplot in their lives sooner than we think. You focus on your main plot, and let others do the same!
6. No One Has To Live With The Consequences But You
When all is said and done, you are the one stuck with the end result. No one else will take responsibility for your actions (even if they influenced them!)
So why live with their voices in your head?
For those of us who are serial people-pleasers, not caring about what others think is a lifelong battle. We wrote an article to help you through this! It's not easy to shed the weight of everyone's opinion and act in a way that prioritizes your needs and happiness.
Here's the thing though: you are the ONLY one who can do this. In 2020 we learned how easily life can change. Everything we took for granted and considered a solid fixture in life shifted before our eyes. If people-pleasing is a core issue in your life, it CAN shift. Very few things are entirely unchangeable.
I want to hear from you: Do you have a story about shedding the weight of others' opinions? I would love to hear it!
Until next time!
Mental Health Content Specialist