Many of us spend the majority of our lives more worried more about what other people think of us than how we think about ourselves! Why is that? At what point did we decide that getting other people’s approval was more important than being authentic and having our own back? There are multiple reasons why that might happen. First, from an evolutionary standpoint, we always want to be part of the tribe. Second, as women in our society we have been trained to believe that other people are more important than we are. Third, we have not been putting effort into cultivating a loving relationship with ourselves. I am going to discuss each of these reasons and then explain why it is so important to learn how to make your opinion the only one that really matters.
Let’s first talk about the tribe mentality; it is real! We want to feel connected to others at the cost of our own integrity sometimes. Historically speaking, this was very important back in the day when you were relying on other tribe members to keep you alive. There was no telling the other cavemen that you were going to take a day for yourself and they would have to manage without you. If they started talking about you and doubted you, you might be a goner. Therefore, even if you were not truly feeling it, it was always one for all and all for one. Since their safety depended on that mentality way back when it makes sense. Today, however, we no longer need to rely on one another to stay alive which makes this mindset outdated.
Another mindset that needs to be questioned, is the notion that women should always put everybody else’s needs ahead of their own. I prescribed to this most of my life and pretty sure most of the women I know have also adopted this belief. As mothers and stepmoms, we are always trying to take care of our children to ensure they have the best life possible. As wives’, many of us have given up careers to create a loving home so our husbands could go off and be monetary providers for us. As daughters, we are often the primary caregiver to aging parents. We might have our own dreams and never pursue them because we feel like we have to keep ourselves available in the even that those around us might need us. I did this for a very long time. What would happen if we did not do what is expected of us? What would people say? It stands to reason that when we spend our lives putting other people’s needs first, we are subconsciously believing they are more important than we are and so is what they think.
The third reason we worry so much what other people think is because we have not spent any time cultivating a loving relationship with ourselves. We literally do not even think of ourselves most of the time and if we do, it is as a victim of circumstance. We are people-pleasing and trying desperately to keep everybody happy at our own expense. It does not even occur to us to think about we want in a productive or intentional way because it makes us too uncomfortable to think we could possibly be a priority. After years of habitually and subconsciously making everyone else more important than we are, we do not think what we have to say is relevant or important. We do not even realize we have given up our personal power.
I know I am not painting a pretty picture here, but we all know that worrying about what other people think causes us a great deal of suffering. It can totally debilitate us and keep us stuck from trying anything for fear of what others might say. If we believe the opinion of others is more important than our own, we will always be at the mercy of other people and what they could possibly say about us. That is why it is so important to work through this fear. The way we can begin that process is by increasing our self-awareness. We start to pay attention to what is going on in our brain. We start to notice the self-talk and the way we treat ourselves so poorly. We start to notice deep seated and subconscious thought patterns that have been guiding our behavior for decades. We start to realize that worrying about what other people think is actually optional and we have control over it. We start to learn how to manage our minds to make the transition to believing that our thoughts are the thoughts that really matter. We start to realize that the best way to take care of everybody we love is to decide to love ourselves first. We start to realize that if we love the way we are showing up in our lives, we do not really care what anybody else has to say about us and we reclaim our personal power.
Learning to not worry about what others have to say about us begins by developing a loving relationship with ourselves. Once we begin to love ourselves the same way we love our children or best friends, we gain a new perspective in life where our opinion matters. We no longer overlook our needs or defer to what other people might think because we want to be liked or part of the tribe. We do not buy into society’s notion that women should put everybody else ahead of themselves as if they are second class citizens. Making this transition requires living consciously, perseverance, and remaining vigilant of our minds. It also takes courage and a willingness to experience uncomfortable emotions but we know we are worth it so we do the work.