Liberate Yourself, Once and For All, From the Opinions that DON’T MATTER
I’ve always been a “big ideas” kind of gal. For as long as I can remember, I have gotten ideas from what feels like the molten core of my being—ideas that pulsate through the cells of my body in waves of oh-hell-yes goosebumps—ideas that feel so right to me, that nothing in the world could stop me from doing them.
Nothing, until I introduce that pesky, often crippling thought of: oh my God, what would other people think about me if I actually did that?
And it makes sense, to a point. As children, we often stop following our bliss in order to please the people around us—our mothers, and our fathers, our teachers, and our peer groups. The resounding inner voice that tells us to follow the flow of what feels good to us, is often drowned out by the external voices around us, because frankly, they are louder and more in our face than our inner, “imaginary” friends. We often just think it would be easier to pick up the toys or do the boring math homework than to not (and it probably is, if we want to be fed or make it through the school system). While I believe most of the socialization that takes place comes from well meaning adults who want to help us to integrate into the world, in the process, we are taught that what you think about what I am doing is more important than what I think about what I am doing. And it sucks to live your life that way.
Fortunately, once we are no longer dependent upon the fickle whim of “authority figures” (who had the power to give us a bad grade or banish us to a time out), many of us start to realize that something very screwy is going on with this whole business of trying to please other people. If one person in the room wants you to be one thing, and someone else in the room wants you to be something entirely different, you’re screwed. Who are you going to please? You’re setting yourself for disappointing at least one other person, and more than that, you’re setting yourself up for feeling totally shitty about not being yourself.
What can we do now, to start tuning out the opinions of other people around us and tune into to the inner voice, which is guiding us towards becoming more of who we really are? I think the answer is pretty simple: stop giving a shit what anybody else around you is thinking or saying or doing. Okay, maybe that sounds easier said than done, but there are a few techniques I have discovered over the last couple years that have really helped me with this.
1. First, I find it helps to recognize that the opinions of other people are just that: opinions. Everybody is going to have opinions about all kinds of stuff, and there isn’t a whole lot anybody can do about it. It also helps to recognize that other people’s opinions are way less about you than you might think, and that people tend to project their own shit all over you, even if they don’t really mean to.
2. It can also help to recognize why you want the approval of other people. Is it because you want a gold star to tell you that you are doing well in life? Is it because you think somebody else might hold the answer to something that you want to know? I think what really comes down to is a desire to feel secure about ourselves, and we often think that other people might be the key to that. If we can find reasons to feel good about ourselves, our own unique qualities, and our accomplishments, it can really help in tuning out all of those opinions being offered up by the peanut gallery.
3. I find that one of the most effective ways of tuning out the opinions of others is to find a way to get into a good mood before we go out into the world and start engaging with others. Then there’s a real cushioning pad that we have to fall back on, we feel more stable and connected to who we are, and we don’t get knocked around so much by what this one, or what that one has to say about anything.
If you ever find yourself getting knocked around in the sea of opinions out there, just remember this: YOU are the director of your own movie, and nobody else gets to say what you put in it. Fin.
With Love and Mischief,