Whenever I start coaching a new client I ask them this question: What are your top 3 frustrations in your life right now?
Almost always, one of the three responses has to do with caring too much about what other people think about them. I can waste my words explaining the psychology behind needing other people’s approval to sure up our worthiness, but I’m more of a take-action-now kind of a coach.
So, let’s discuss practical action steps that you can take to stop care about how others perceive you:
Commitment to Self-Love
I’ve spent the entirety of my childhood and teenage years caring about what others thought about me. Growing up gay in a society that condemned homosexuality meant that I had to constantly be vigilant of the way people perceived me, and act my way through being someone I wasn’t. It wasn’t until my need for approval almost cost me my life, that I decided to take a different approach.
My approach was this:
I am committed to learning to love and accept myself, to the extent that nobody else’s opinion matters.
I quickly became obsessed with empowering myself. I spent all my free time reading books, watching videos, and practicing spiritual modalities that promised to teach me how to love myself. When you show up for love, love shows up for you. And so, as soon as I took the action steps to self-love, self-love was afforded to me. The books inspired, the videos empowered, the spiritual modalities worked! And I was free.
Fast forward eight years later, now a professional spiritual life coach, I faced a different form of comparison. I caught myself caring about what other spiritual teachers thought about me, and obsessed over every single comment that readers posted on my blog and social media sites. I felt misunderstood, and yet there was nothing I could do to change their perception of me.
And so I took another liberating approach:
I can’t control what you think about me. What I can control is my ability to be authentic.
I realised that all I could do was to be authentic. Really, if there’s nothing you can do about what other people think about you, why waste your energy torturing yourself over it? Authenticity trumps all. When you know in your heart you’ve acted in a way that felt true to you, then other people’s opinions and judgments are simply, them disapproving your authentic self.
Do you really need the approval of people who don’t like you for who you are?
Do you really need the approval of people who want you to be inauthentic?
Take Action Now
Next time you catch yourself caring about what someone else thinks about you, stop and ask yourself:
Am I being authentic right now?
If the answer is no, shift your thoughts and actions in a way that feels authentic. If the answer is yes, be grateful for standing true to yourself, and make the conscious realisation that there is, really, nothing you can do about it, so you might as well let it go!