When you give too much credence to other people's opinions you're basically telling your true self to fuck-off.
Your self-esteem is tied to the yo-yo of what other people think of you. When other people approve of you and your decisions? You feel great! When other people disapprove of you? You feel like crap.
You end up becoming a slave to what other people want. Running around trying to please everyone with every decision. Never really tuning into your own needs.
This people pleasing turns into you squashing your own desires. And contorting and molding yourself to fit the idea of what other people think you "should" be. You stop showing your whole personality. You stop feeling like you can be yourself. And you stop trusting your own judgment because you assume that other people know better!
This cascades into essentially living a shell of a life.
Because when other people's opinions are more important than your own you live life on their terms. Not yours. And yet, you're the one who will be left with regret on your deathbed for not having lived a life truly authentic to who you are. They (and their opinions of you) will be long gone. And you'll wonder why you gave them so much power over you.
You'll have lived a life that's NOT what you wanted or needed or truly desired. You'll only offer people a shell of what you think they'll like - never giving your friends, romantic partners, and customers an opportunity to truly know you and know how amazing you are. They'll be in a relationship with a shell - not with the real you. And you'll cheat yourself out of real intimacy and success because of it.
You will NEVER have what you truly want in life unless you learn to shut out other people's opinions. Until you stop giving a crap about what they think and really tune into your desires, your voice, your truth!
But don't worry - I'm not going to leave you hanging. Here's what to do about it!
Realize that 9 times out of 10, when you're worried about what other people think - it's a projection. You're projecting your own fears and your own internalized self-judgment onto other people. You're pinning on them what you yourself think. So when we take responsibility for letting go of other people's judgments we empower ourselves to stop being harsh and judgmental with ourselves too. Because ultimately they go hand-in-hand.
When I left my job as a psychologist and became a coach I feared what everyone else would think. I thought that they'd reject my career choice and think I was crazy. Turns out that was all in my head and I've gotten nothing but support (or no comments - I'll take silence any day over judgment!).
What was really happening was I was judging myself for my shift. I felt guilt about leaving my role as a psychologist and moving toward what lit me up. Once I let that go all of the fears about what other people would think went away quite quickly.
Let Go of Embarrassment
So many of us stop ourselves from living our best lives because we fear embarrassment. We fear what other people might think of us if we wear that bikini but don't have a perfect body. We fear what the other women might say or think if we wear the dress with the bodaciously low neckline. We wonder how other people will perceive us if we speak up in the PTA meeting.
Stop it. Right now. Embarrassment is really no big deal.
The only reason that embarrassment feels terrible is because you project your feelings onto other people.
A few months ago I went to the grocery store and had my card declined at the register. For a hot minute I was all flustered and flushed with embarrassment. I had completely forgotten that I had recently purchased a big group program on my card. I was mortified to have these people think that I was maxed out. So I took a deep breath and said to myself "fuck it" and I opened up my cell phone, made a payment on the spot, and got on with my purchase. I walked out and sat and thought for a moment about what had just happened.
Just a few years ago I probably would have just abandoned my groceries and walked out of the store in shame - and not gone back for quite a while because I would have been so concerned with what they thought of me. The embarrassment would have felt so consuming that I would have basically sabotaged my happiness (having awesome food to take home and not wasting time having to go to another store) because of it.
This time? Totally different. I laughed when I got in my car and realized that it wasn't any big deal. And who gives a shit what those other people think anyway? Totally liberating.
Put on your blinders. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing. Keep your eyes on your own paper. Seriously, everyone's journey is different. So no one's life will look the same. Often when we get lost in worrying about what everyone else thinks it's because we're existing in a state of perpetual comparison. We look at what everyone else is doing and think that unless we're doing similarly we failed (see fear of failure below and embarrassment above).
Totally not true. When we drop the comparison and just hold ourselves accountable to meeting the goals we set up in front of us then we stop feeling like we're running a race on a treadmill that won't stop and let us catch our breath. Seriously, how exhausting!
Comparison is something that will drive you batty. And it's entirely self-imposed torture. Let that shit go now!
Increase Self-esteem and Self-worth
Self-esteem is just that - esteem of the self. It's only something that we can give to ourselves. We can only grant ourselves self-esteem. No one else can give it to us. No one else can fill our cup with self-esteem. No one else can say "here you go, here's a bag of self-worth". That's not how it works. It has to come from the self.
And this is part of the issue that so many people have with over-valuing other people's opinions. When you over value what other people think of you it's because you're looking for someone else to fill your cup. You're looking for someone else to give you self-esteem.
So one of the most successful ways to stop caring so much about what other people think is to start feeling really really great about yourself outside of what other people think of you. That way you no longer look externally to fill your cup and feel really good about yourself. You essentially disconnect yourself from that yo-yo where other people's opinions cause you to feel great or terrible about yourself because at the end of the day you feel fabulous about yourself regardless about what they think!
Check out a podcast I did a few months ago about OWNING YOUR UNIQUE VOICE.
So what do you do when you have people in your world who suck the positive mojo right out of you? You set boundaries - that's what!
If people are tearing you down and making you feel like you're less than then tell them "Unless you can speak respectfully to me about this then I'm exiting the conversation".
It seriously can be as easy as that. Set boundaries with those people who have been squashing you under their judgments and opinions and it will instantly help you feel better about yourself!
Remind Yourself Whose Life This Is
Ultimately this is YOUR life. You're the one who will wake up at the end of it and either feel that you've lived a life that was fulfilling and energizing. Or did you live a life that you regretted?
One of the biggest regrets of the dying is:
"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
The only person's opinion that really matters is your own.
I'll say that again THE ONLY PERSON'S OPINION THAT MATTERS IS YOUR OWN.
Yup, that's right. You're the one who has to be happy and satisfied with how you lived your life. Your the one who is stuck with the results of your life. So you're the one who gets to decide.
Make The Decision
This brings us to my next point. One of the key points about not caring about what other people think is to actually make the decision to stop caring.
It's a simple concept, but it's not easy.
By making a decision you're making a commitment to yourself and your happiness. You're making a commitment to living your life based on your desires and what would make you happiness. You're making a commitment to yourself. And that is POWERFUL shit.
Forget About Failure
I say this over and over again because it's worth repeating.
Failure is nothing to fear.
A lot of times we fear what other people think because we fear what they'll think if we fail. What will they think if I open my own business and then I'm not successful? What would my fellow entrepreneur's think if they knew I wasn't making any money yet? What would they think?
Fuck it - we all fail. But really, there is no such thing as failure. There's just learning!
I gained something like 80 pounds when I was with my ex- fiancé. I squashed who I was (my personality, my exuberance, my love of life) because I was told I was "too much" very frequently. And I settled on a lot of things in my life.
But I don't see any of those things as failures. They were opportunities for me to learn.
Opportunities for me to stop these patterns forever. Because sometimes the universe gives us a push so that we take that lesson down deep and never forget it. And I will NEVER diminish myself again in any way. Because I know my value (see self-esteem above :) ).
Check In With Your Intuition
What do you feel is right for you? What is your true path? What type of woman do you really want to be?
Tuning into your intuition is an essential piece of letting go of other people's opinions.
So often, especially in entrepreneurship, we follow the pack. We do what other people tell us should work because we crave that approval from other people. Or we crave that validation that we're doing it "right".
But what's right for her may not be right for you. Your path is unique and different and special. Just like you! So checking in with your intuitive knowledge about who you are and what you really desire is essential to let go of others opinions. Because then you'll always have a connection with your truth!