Living Empowered: Being True to Yourself
anonymous Asks ...
How do I stop caring so much (too much) what other people think about me so I can live my life according to what should be most important to me?
Loren Gelberg-Goff Says ...
What a great question, and one that to make the life adjustment that you are asking about requires a few commitments from you. Usually people who care (too much) about what other people think are looking for their approval, love, acceptance, etc. There is an underlying fear that if you don't act or agree with the other people, they will not love you, they'll reject you or they will in some way punish you. As long as you live with that belief/fear, then changing your perspective and attitude remains very challenging. However, once you make the commitment to take care of yourself first then you will begin to care less what others think...
Self-esteem and self-respect are at the root of making the change you are asking about. So all changes start with reinforcing the belief "Who I Am Is Enough". You are lovable and worthwhile and deserving of love, acceptance and respect even when you don't agree with the people around you.
So, step #1 to care less about what others think about you is to explore the fear within you that arises at the mere thought about what others think of you. When the fear-based thought/belief becomes clear to you, ask yourself "Is what I fear/believe really true?" I realize that you may "think" it's true, but is it really true? I tell my clients all the time "don't believe everything you think"; allow yourself to really examine your thought/belief/fear.
#2 IF your fear really isn't true then it's a matter of how you choose to handle their negative reactions. What really will happen if they disagree with you? They'll feel angry, disappointed, upset, confused, etc... In many situations someone will feel these things... it doesn't always have to be YOU!
#3 Every time you deny your needs, feelings and integrity, you undermine your belief in yourself. You can go to my blog posts and check them out because the most recent ones have been all about setting boundaries that are healthy, respectful and compassionate first and foremost to you, yourself. (www.beingwellwithin.com/blog)
#4. If your goal is to live a life that honors your integrity and worth, then it is imperative that you stay focused on that goal in all your interactions with the people around you. Ask and answer "What is my desired outcome?" A desired outcome has to be a)what you want, NOT what you don't want, and b) it has to be something over which you have control...You have control over asking for what you want and need from others, but no control as to whether it is something they can or will give to you.
5. There are many other ways of shifting your perspective from caring more about others' opinions than your own, and reading some self-help books can be beneficial and productive. A few that I recommend are:the book I coauthored: Being Well Within: From Distressed to De-Stressed , Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life, or Melody Beattie's Codependent No More.
6. In September, my telephone support group will be starting and it focuses on your very question and takes you through setting and maintaining healthy boundaries, dealing with guilt and emotional blackmail, focusing on your goals and needs, etc. You can reach out to me to talk further about this if you want to work more actively on letting go of the power you give to others.
7. The line from Oriah Mountain Dreamer's poem: The Invitaiton is particularly appropriate for your question:
"...I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy..."
I do hope that this gives you a start on your journey to living empowered and knowing you really can live "well within".