I feel I have the need to write about why we care so much about what other people think of us. I used to care and worry too much about what people thought of me and it felt like everything I did, I had to ask myself so many questions such as how would it/I look, what would I look like, would it be approved, what if nobody liked it, what if people talked about me behind my back, what would they think if I said this and the list went on.
Looking back, I think it stemmed from being bullied in school. I felt I was doing things and behaving for other people's approval and feeling the pressure to perfect everything. Being bullied made me behave 'accordingly' to prevent the bullying recurring. But behaving 'accordingly' by the bully's standard made me so unhappy and had to put a happy front. It also made me feel so uncomfortable and always insecure as I would wait for bully to say something nice and make me feel better and secure again; to validate me essentially (she would be nice to me when she needed my help). I made myself feel inadequate as I consumed myself with negative thoughts such as 'what's wrong with me? if only I had this, if only I was that, if only I was't, didn't', and struggled to do things with ease because I felt so bad about myself and was fighting with myself constantly, blaming me for being me.
This impact of this experience stayed with me for a long time. Worrying and caring too much what other people would think of me; would I be bullied again if I didn't behave in certain way. Would I be liked and fit it? I can't remember exactly what the turning point was, either something I read or heard or someone said; the penny dropped. I was fed up with being unhappy and allowing constant negativity. From that day onward, I started answering my own question with another question. In fact a whole new dialogue started in my head. For example: 'what would they say if I did this, said this?'
So, I answered this question with another question 'so what if they said this that and the other, would it change my life?'. I would say that when we're worrying about what others think of us, it's mostly us doubting our own uniqueness, truth and bravery.
Being worried about what others think is our own judgment and reflection of ourselves. We can spend too much time thinking what other people think of us and stopping us in our way, and in reality they probably couldn't careless; each of us has our own issue. I've become more mindful when I hear people passing judgment or undesirable comments about others; they're probably unhappy with themselves or their situation and maybe by passing undesirable comments about others or criticising others, might make them feel happier.
But I doubt it. I learnt those who do, lack self-compassion and therefore feel difficult to show compassion towards others. They probably have their own issues and instead of addressing them, they choose to ignore and bury them, and prefer to talk about other people. Their opinions don't matter. And we ought to learn to stop wasting our time and energy worrying about others and continue living our lives. When we start judging others, we judge ourselves too. They judge themselves too and may well be a reflection of their own circumstances. We can't know and control what other people think of us, it's none of our business. But what we can do is choose how we respond to it, and how we respond it is how we treat ourselves, with kindness and gentleness and we forgive them because we rise above it. Only us who can decide whether to allow what people think of us affect our lives.
The way we treat ourselves is how we teach others to treat us. We have to learn to build healthy boundaries. When we respect ourselves, people will too. It doesn't mean we're mean or inflexible or unhelpful, it means we're treating ourself well and people will see that and they will do the same. In fact people will admire you 'Gosh I wish I could be like her'. We can set a great example as we become more confident, true and authentic to our own uniqueness.
I just wanted you to ask yourself this one question first: 'is what they think going to change my life?'. It might trigger something else in your life that you might like to change, but you do it for you to make your life better and not for other people. Be yourself because the right people will stay, be loyal and faithful to you and as for the rest, you know the answer to that. Don't be afraid to lose friends or even family. You have the longest relationship with yourself, so be true to you, be honest with yourself. The discomfort, heartache, difficult feelings and emotions will come up and that's normal, honour them, work through them, you'll find the answers of what's true and meaningful to you. Embrace and love that.
As for me, I'm still working on embracing the wholeness of myself too and doing my own things that is aligned and true to me and if people think it's weird or whatever else, they're entitled to their own opinions but I know my own reality is and is not based on their opinion. Even though it does cross my mind what others might think of me, I'm human, I turn it around and say to myself 'does it matter?'
I leave you with this quote:
"Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me" - Unknown
Sending love Claryn xx