“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”— Dr. Seuss
Over the years I have found that there is one barrier above all others that prevents people from living the life of their dreams. This obstacle can rob people of their happiness and prevent them from living the lives they were meant to. The majority of us simply care too much about what other people think of us. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t care at all about other people’s opinions, we just shouldn’t be too quick to put other people’s opinions over our own.
“Some people say you are going the wrong way, when it’s simply a way of your own.”— Angelina Jolie
Caring about other people’s opinions of us was, for thousands of years, an important survival strategy. Our ancestors only survived and had children because they were able to effectively live within a community. They needed their tribe to survive. Being part of a community meant that our predecessors were protected from predators and enemies. It also meant that they had the assistance they needed to get food, build shelter, find safe drinking water and secure all the other essentials they required for survival.
Oh, and caring what other people think was, and is, an important factor in finding a mate.
Even today it is important to care a certain amount about what other people think of us. The vast majority of us have to interact with a social circle that includes friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers.
As an example very rude people have limited chances of landing in decent careers, being invited to dinner parties, going on dates or even finding people to hang around with. The same thing can happen if, due to a lack of personal hygiene, we wind up smelling like a mixture of rotting fish and rancid cheese.
Fortunately there are very few people who are so rude or smelly that no one will hang out with them. But, there are many millions of people who are so concerned with how other people view them that they either go to extreme lengths to find acceptance. This includes; people who eagerly trade sex for being liked, people who spend inordinate amounts of time and money trying to look more successful than they are and still other people who simply lock themselves away from the rest of the world in order to avoid the possible pain of rejection.
In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that the vast majority of us are, or have been, negatively impacted by being too concerned with what other people think of us;
We avoid giving honest performance appraisals to an employee because we want them to like us (I have done that),
We avoid getting up and dancing because we are concerned what people will think (I have done that too),
Being too concerned about other people’s opinions means that we are afraid of rejection, ridicule and criticism. As a result we avoid publishing the books we have written (or not writing them at all). It also prevents us from talking to the people who might become our friends or life partners, asking for the things we want, or doing the things that would make us truly happy.
If you are one of the multitude of people who struggle with caring a little too much of what other people think here are a five thoughts that you might want to consider.
Most people are far too busy and self-absorbed to worry too much about you,
Any criticisms or rejections that you get typically says more about the other person than yourself. (Oprah Winfrey was told to give up her dreams of being on television. Elvis Presley was told he couldn’t sing. In fact every succesful person on the planet was rejections countless times.)
None of those people truly know what is best for you, nor do they understand your life, your dreams and your goals.
Other people’s opinions change on a whim, while you wind up living with the long-term results.
You will never succeed in pleasing everyone (so why even try).
Just because majority of people share an opinion does not make that opinion correct. (Remember that the majority of people once thought that the earth was the centre of the universe, that the world was flat, that women should remain at home, or that putting Paris Hilton on television was a good idea.)
If you, like so many other people, have been struggling to win the approval of other people without much success, why not trying focussing on approving of yourself and see how that works out for you?
Thank you for reading, and feel free to either leave a comment or shoot me an email.