What Others Think
If you’re a human, other humans are going to judge you.
That’s because we humans have survived and evolved to this point in part by using our judgement about what’s safe and unsafe, good and bad, healthy and unhealthy. Judging is a normal, natural, human instinct.
People will judge how you spend your money, how you spend your time, how you raise your kids, what you wear, what your kids wear, what car you drive, the cleanliness of your home, the foods you eat. They’ll judge all of that and more.
The fact that others judge you isn’t a problem. It’s what you make it mean about yourself that can be a problem.
While most people probably wish they didn’t care what others think of them, most people do care. Caring a little bit isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it can help keep you empathetic, kind, and compassionate. Taking into consideration what others think can also provide good feedback that can motivate you to grow and change for the better. But caring too much can cause all sorts of problems and lead to unnecessary suffering.
The reason we seek admiration and approval is that we have a basic human need for connection. When we feel connected to others, we unconsciously believe we’re more worthy, lovable, and valuable. But the truth is that our worth comes from simply being born. We all come into this world 100% valuable.
If you choose to make other people’s opinions relevant, you run the risk of basing your feelings about yourself on what they think of you, instead of deciding what you think of you.
For example, some people will think you’re selfish for leaving the kids with a babysitter three times a week while you go to the gym; others will admire your commitment to self-care. Some people will think your decision to buy your second grader an iPad is sensible; others will think it’s irresponsible. Some people will believe you're a caring parent to bring your child his homework when he leaves it at home; others will believe you're enabling his dependence on you.
None of that determines what’s right for you. You get to decide what you think about yourself and your decisions. There will always be people who approve of you and some that don’t. What’s important is that you approve of you. Other people’s opinions (the negative as well as the positive) are about them, not you.
Decide for yourself what you want to believe. Start by asking yourself questions to uncover your current beliefs. What do you believe about yourself, your job, your relationships, etc? Then ask yourself whether you want to continue choosing those beliefs. If so, make sure you like your reasons for keeping them. If not, identify what you'd like to believe instead.
What you decide to think about yourself is your responsibility. And when you decide what you think, other people’s opinions become less relevant. What you think determines how you feel. And what others think is none of your business.
So, allow others to disapprove of you. Allow them to be wrong about you. It’s not their job to make you feel lovable and worthy. It’s yours.
Other people’s opinions only affect you when you allow them to affect you. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
What would it take for you to get your own approval? How do you approve of your life right now? What do you need to start/stop doing in order to gain your own approval in the future?
In the comments below, tell me what you're committed to believing about yourself no matter what others may or may not think.
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