What other people think of you doesn’t define you. So why do we care so much?
I’ve not done an episode on this for a little while and it’s something I get asked all the time so I thought I would do a little recap on this one.
When I tell people how I used to be, someone who had zero self esteem. Someone who validated themselves by other people’s opinions. Someone who was the most negative person in the room, catastrophising, always looking for ‘acceptance’…yeeeeesh it was an exhausting existence.
…they don’t believe me.
Which is nice!
BUT, if I can heal from it, you can too.
So how do we go about this?!
Firstly it’s worth saying, you are absolutely not alone. This is something I see come up time and time again when people are starting or uplevelling businesses or trying to achieve big things.
These common phrases start to rear their ugly heads.
‘Who am I to do this?’
‘What will people think of me?’
‘What if people don’t like me or say mean things?’
‘What if people tell me I’m wrong…publicly!’
‘What if my friends and family laugh at me?’
‘What if everyone else is better than me?’
‘What if people don’t accept me?’
‘I don’t want to feel excluded.’
The way you feel about yourself is shaped before you’re 8 years old. You’re an unconscious sponge, taking on everything you see and hear. This could be from parents, siblings, friends, family, teachers, anyone in charge of your care. How attuned you were, how seen and heard you felt, what was going on in your environment. For the positive and the negative.
Remember, understanding this is never about judgement or blame and always about curiosity and knowledge that you have the power to heal and change should you choose to.
It’s important to note this though because this is the stuff that will have a big factor in how resilient you are when it comes to other people’s opinions of you. How resilient you are to not being ‘included’. Or caring where you are in the ‘pecking order’ of who’s more successful than who.
Again, it’s not about blame or shame, it’s about helping you make sense! If you’re not aware of something, you can’t change it.
School has a LOT to answer for in the way we feel about ourselves too.
Rejection registers in the brain as physical pain. It’s very easy to be triggered by the thought of someone not accepting us, or rejecting us, or telling us we’re not good enough….or saying it behind our backs. It’s as if your inner child comes right to the surface and you are that younger version of you, feeling it all over again.
So, it makes sense why we might try to avoid it, right?
Until we get curious and pick it apart that is!
First it’s about taking a look at whose opinion actually matters?
Something worth mentioning here is that sometimes, someone who is close to you whose opinion matters in many scenarios, might be somewhat less valid in others.
An example might be your parents or a spouse. Their opinion on what you do and who you are in many cases may be important. But their view on your sales page or website with no prior experience or knowledge in that area…less so!
Does the opinion of a stranger on the internet, who is unhappy enough in their lives to comment negatively on yours, really matter?
Does it really have clout?
It’s about starting to care what YOU think of yourself. The more yourself you are, the more you live by your values, the more you’re not going to care about other people’s opinions.
When we understand our own behaviour we can start to understand other people’s. The reality is, we can trigger other people. We can unconsciously hold up a mirror to other people.
We can highlight that we might be doing something they wish they could but aren’t.
Our success can trigger other people.
What we ‘have’ can trigger other people.
It’s worth asking if that person’s opinion has any validity too. Is what they’re saying sounding true? Is there some potential helpful feedback in there? If not…discount it! Worth checking in though.
It’s being able to discern that sometimes, other people’s opinions have nothing to do with us and everything to do with them.
We also need to appreciate it’s evolutionary to be accepted. If you weren’t it could be life or death.
We can unconsciously cause our own rejection too. If we believe that we will be rejected, or not accepted…that will create certain feelings that will drive our behaviour.
That might be, hanging back. Rejecting before we’re rejected. It might be not getting involved in communities but watching other people make connections.
We can essentially create ourselves a fun little self fulfilling prophecy of rejection, thus reinforcing everything we thought about ourselves or what was going to happen through our own behaviour.
Try not to project your thoughts onto other people’s opinions.
By hanging back or not getting involved, we become not involved. We’re not giving off the message that we want to be involved right? Therefore saving ourselves from what we believe to be inevitable rejection, and creating it at the same time.
The trick is to start to become aware of these things. Again, not judging ourselves for it but being curious about it.
Where does this behaviour make sense?
If you feel tension or anxiety bubbling up, use an emotional regulation technique to wake up the part of your brain that has conscious, rational thought, choice, decisions. From that place you get to talk back, but you have to regulate your emotions first.
If you’ve been uncomfortable in groups before, how can you find groups to feel safe in and break that cycle? Dip your toe in the water and allow yourself to be accepted. It’s even more important if you have this pattern running that you surround yourself with people who support you and have your back. But you have to allow them to.
It’s like I said in the episode ‘isn’t it time you backed yourself’…allow other people to back you until you learn to back yourself. You will care FAR less about other people’s opinion that way.
Remember, opinions and thoughts often aren’t truth. Other people’s and your own. People will always have an opinion on you, the one that matters is your opinion on you.
Fran Excell, Subconscious Success Mentor – Helping Business Owners Overcome Stress & Self Sabotage at www.franexcell.com
Check out The Positive Pants Podcast here
Download your FREE Stressed To Success Meditation here
Join The Positive Pants Toolkit App here
Book In a Free 20 Minute Discovery Call here