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I have a natural tendency to care entirely too much about what others think about me. It’s a struggle for me to stop caring so much what others think.
It manifests itself in the way I dress, how I decorate my home, the amount of time I spend cleaning before someone comes over, and in how I manage my children, among other things.
But this internal struggle to constantly impress others has taken its toll on my life, causing conflict within myself and my relationships.
It has caused me to try too hard to control everything and everyone around me in order to live up to someone else’s perceived expectations. And it has caused me to fall into a depression when I felt like I would never be good enough.
But my therapist’s words to me changed my perspective. Oh, I didn’t get it right away.
In fact, I thought it sounded completely ridiculous when I first heard it. But as time has gone on and the true meaning of these words has sunk in, my life has improved.
It’s none of your business what others think of you.
People aren’t thinking about you anyway
A lot of our anxiety about what others think comes from the false assumption that people are thinking about us at all. On the contrary, humans, in general, tend to worry more about themselves than they do about anyone else.
Think about it, do you walk around all day stressing out or judging someone else because of something they said or did?
If you did, you probably wouldn’t be reading this post. Nope, you and I usually spend most of our time more concerned with what we did or said.
And if that’s true for us, then it’s most likely true for just about everyone else too!
I can tell you details of conversations I had 10 or even 20 years ago. Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “I can’t believe I said that to Megan back in sophomore year of high school…what an idiot I was!!” (for context – I graduated high school in 2005 guys…)
But yet I couldn’t tell you one detail of the conversation I had with someone earlier this week – because I didn’t say anything that I regret.
I won’t ever remember if the cashier in line at Target said something stupid – honestly, I’ve probably forgotten by the time I get to my car.
There are just too many far more important things going on in my life for something someone else said or did to take up any space in my brain.
What they think is a reflection of them, not you
Even if there’s someone out there judging your every move, it’s not about you.
In my experience, the more bitter, angry, judgmental, hostile, rude, critical, or hateful a person is about a topic or a situation, the more likely it is that they are struggling with something and the thing you did or said triggered it.
Don’t take it personally. Realize that we have to stop caring what others think so much and learn to recognize that everyone has their own battles to fight.
It’s not your responsibility to fight for them. If someone is being critical of you, take a moment to decide whether what they say is actually true or not.
If it’s not, then let it go and move on. If it is true, take it as a lesson to be learned from and be grateful for the realization – even if it wasn’t delivered in the most tactful way.
Take for example my oldest son. He is naturally very reserved around people he’s not really familiar with – he just takes a hot minute to warm up to people.
And he naturally shys away from new experiences. It’s not a flaw, just a character trait.
But sometimes, much like his dear ol’ momma, his hesitation around new people comes across as rude and mean.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that people thought I was totally stuck up (I’ve been called worse actually) when they first met me because I didn’t really talk to them.
But the truth is, I was just really shy! They literally did nothing wrong at all – but if they interpreted my silence or avoidance as an indication that they did, it could have really made them question themselves!
When my son turns away from someone saying hi or hides behind me or pulls away from a hug, I just have to remind the other person that it’s nothing personal, he just needs a little more info before he can fully engage.
You weren’t meant to live someone else’s life
Each and every one of us has a purpose in life. We are all designed with certain talents and passions that allow us to do something in this world that no one else is equipped to do.
That means that you are unique and special and there is not a single person in the past, present, or future who will ever be exactly like you.
You have your own story, your own experiences. And those experiences have shaped who you’ve become, for better or for worse.
But that’s what makes you, you!
When we start caring too much about what others think of us and our choices, we rob ourselves of the life-enhancing joy that comes from finding and following our own passions and desires in life.
When we let others’ opinions of what we should be doing or who we should be alter our plans, we steal something wonderful from the world.
God didn’t intend for us to wither under the shade of someone else’s plan. He intended for us to grow magnificent and beautiful in the light of our own personal path.
Don’t let someone else’s thoughts hijack your journey.
I, for one, used to live my life based on what I thought everyone else wanted from or for me. If I sensed that someone was judging my decision or disagreed with my opinion, I would second guess everything about it too.
It made life super difficult because I could never commit to anything unless I thought everyone I cared about thought it was a good idea. But that’s pretty impossible since it’s not likely that you can please everyone all the time.
There’s always going to be that one naysayer – or maybe there won’t be, but you’ll think there is and you’ll second guess yourself.
But if it weren’t for my willingness to take some risks and put myself out there even when not everyone agreed and even when I felt judged, I wouldn’t have this blog.
I wouldn’t be able to share this journey with you. I wouldn’t be living a life I truly love.
There’s only one person I aim to please now, and that’s God.
The next time you feel those worries about someone else’s opinion of your life start to creep in, just stop caring what others think. Remember, it’s none of your business anyway.
Whether they like you or not. Whether they think you are making wise choices or not.
Whether they like your haircut or your outfit or think our career is a waste of time. None of it matters.
Do you know why? Because they aren’t us. The only opinion that matters, in the end, is yours.
So go live the life you were called to without fear. You were made for this and no one else can take your place.
In the words of Dr. Suess,
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”