One of the greatest things I learned in recovery is that it is none of my business what others think about me. Now, in theory not caring what others think is easy but putting it into practice is hard. Let's just say I fall short on many occasions.
Like when I go to my gynecologist I always have to make sure that my toe nails are freshly painted and my womanly business is sparkling like a princess cut diamond. Why, you ask? Well, because I don't want my doctor thinking I'm some French whore whose lady flower smells like hot Chinatown garbage (took that Chinatown garbage line from Amy Schumer).
And don't ask me about posting on Facebook. I used to post jokes until one of my friends told me that one of my jokes wasn't funny so now I literally rewrite each joke to make sure it pasts the test. I'm not taking into consideration what is funny for one person is not funny for another and that this dude isn't a stand-up comic so what the hell does he know anyway!
Here are some signs that you suffer from caring too much what others think:
1. Taking things personally -- As evidenced above, you're hurt by feedback someone gives you and you take it personally. After my friend made that comment the first thing I thought was, "well I guess I have to stop doing stand up!" Would I be the first comic to tell a bad joke? No. Dane Cook does it all the time!
2. Self- Censoring -- Also when my friend made that comment it made me censor my comedy posts. I was too afraid of getting bad feedback from others so I just posted "safe" stuff, like pictures of my cat sleeping in a dust pan.
3. Not Pursuing Your Dreams -- Caring what others think about your career or other choices can halt your pursuit of your dreams. I wanted to be a stand-up comic about ten years before I actually did it. My fear of bombing on stage and caring what drunken strangers at a comedy club thought about me kept me, for years, from telling the world some stellar dick and fart jokes.
4. People Pleasing -- You want everyone to like you, all the time. I suffered from this for a long time. I wanted everyone to think I was awesome and approve of me even if I didn't like them! On-line dating will test your people pleasing to a really uncomfortable degree.
5. "I got this" Mentality -- You don't ask for help because you may appear weak, stupid or needy. In early sobriety I lost everything. I was sleeping in my car, showering at my gym and eating out of Starbucks dumpsters before I was like, you know what? I'd really benefit from some indoor plumbing and a hot meal, so I asked for help.
6. Fear of Rejection -- Do you care about others opinions so much that you don't put yourself out there for fear of rejection? I'm sending out my book proposal now and every rejection has me doubting myself. It makes me want to retreat to the mountains and make moonshine for a living. But I can't let that fear stop me from sharing my work which helps a lot of people. It would be selfish of me to withhold my God given gifts.
7. Approval Addiction -- Yes, seeking constant approval is an addiction. Ever get a high from a compliment then crash once it's over? In early sobriety a guy would tell me I was pretty and I was on cloud nine then I would seek out more validation for my hot Jewessness to get that "fix." It was my only way of being happy and fulfilled.
Where does this caring too much what others think about you stem from? Well, most likely from a lack of support from when we were children. When we're kids if we didn't get that much needed validation from our parents and teachers we will seek out that validation in unhealthy ways in our adulthood.
Fundamentally though, it is a self-worth issue. Lucky for you guys I write a blog on self-worth (selfworthdiet.com). Believe me, I learned the hard way that if you base your self-worth on anything outside yourself (other people, money, children, career, etc.), you're screwed. It has to come from inside.
What I found helpful is to do what we call in recovery, a "positive inventory." Write down all the people you've helped and all of the things you've done well. Then read it to someone. You will realize that you don't need anyone's validation or approval anymore because you can validate, approve and, most importantly, love yourself.
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