“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.”
– Virginia Woolf
Truth be told, I really don’t care what people think. I know that may sound harsh, but hear me out. You see, I used to care a lot about what people thought about me — my looks, the way I speak, the manner in which I carry myself, my choice of career, and on & on. It wasn’t so much that I was unable to make my own decisions soundly, it was more that I wanted the people who I cared about (at the time) to genuinely care about the happenings of my life with the same levels of enthusiasm that I demonstrated. The older and the wiser I became, I gradually learned how far-fetched and short-lived that dreamy notion really is.
We all know as life goes on, as we age, and as we go through different turning points, we come to learn the differences between who (in our circle) really has our best interest at heart and who is just there ‘for the show’. Some people that are in your lives genuinely want the best for you in all areas. They want you to be happy, to be healthy, to be plentiful, to be prosperous, and to be successful in any and every endeavor that you embark upon. Then, there are other people in your lives that appear to want all of the aforementioned things for you; however the representation of their appearance is just a façade. The real reason that they are stuck so closely to you is because they want front row seats to all of the events of your life, without paying the full, admission price for any of the tickets. (You all know what I’m talking about.)
NEWSFLASH! Some of you out there may be worrying too much about what people think. Who would I be if I didn’t have a short, test available for you to determine whether or not you do? So, here we go. If you can respond in the “affirmative” to any of these statements, you just might need a tiny hug (because you are worrying too much). Brace yourselves for these six statements:
- You do things you don’t want to do and you resent it.
- You no longer (or never did) really know what you want.
- You’re afraid to say what you really believe.
- You spend time with people you don’t like or you avoid people out of fear.
- You struggle to make your own decisions.
- You imagine that people are upset with you when they really aren’t.
Alright now, be honest. How many of these describe you? Maybe one or two describe you, maybe all of them describe you, or maybe none of them describe you. My personal belief is that we all can recall a time when at least one of these scenarios were applicable to our lives. I can admit that once upon a time I used to do things that I really didn’t want to do and then I resented doing so afterward. Really, it wasn’t so much the action, it was more that I had a feeling that the activity would be a waste of my time. Regardless, I still chose to participate. Ultimately, it was a waste of my time, and then I was annoyed. I really despise wasting my time; especially since I know that time spent can never be recovered or regained. (*exhale* & le sigh) Okay, so now that we have all had our moment of realization, it is time to begin the healing process. And, yes, I will be here with you every, single step of the way. Here are a couple tips to help you begin to stop worrying so much about what others think. The article, from Entrepreneur, lists five; I’m sharing my favorite three.
- Know your values.
“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe with you.” – Cynthia Kersey
What is important to you? What do you want most from life? What will you withstand? What will be non-negotiable? You have to know these things. Rest assured that for as long as you remain unclear about your values and do not have them firm and hard-pressed into the center of your life, the opinions of others will drag, pull, and push you into every direction apart from the direction you should go.
- Stop judging yourself.
“So many people along the way, whatever it is you aspire to do, will tell you it can’t be done. But all it takes is imagination. You dream. You plan. You reach.” – Michael Phelps
I know this is easier said than done. I have been there and I totally get it. I think there is a distinct difference in being critical of oneself and being judgmental of oneself. I am extremely critical of myself, but I do not badger, belittle, and bully myself to a point where I feel incapable of achievement. I have talks with myself and I hold myself to my own standard of accountability and excellence. It is part of the improvement process of shaping myself into a better me. Now, from the other perspective of judging, I do not look at myself through a stranger’s eyes, especially not in a manner that would cause me to be uncertain about my abilities or to question decisions that I make.
- Make decisions quickly, but be slow to change your mind.
“Not caring more about what other people think than what you think. That’s freedom.” – Demi Moore
Be firm and be decisive. Trust your instinct and your intuition. Although it may not seem like it at all times, you really are the best person to consult when it is necessary to make decisions for you. Believe in you, have faith in you, and trust you wholeheartedly. When you come to a crossroads (because we all do and we all have), remember this helpful mantra: “Make decisions quickly but be slow to change your mind.” This way, I’ll be more likely to start more journeys, and be less likely to quit.”
Either way the cookie crumbles, it has furnished a very, valuable lesson for me. (I hope it has for you, too.) It is detrimental to my forward progression to weigh in so heavily on the opinions others have toward my decisions in life. The bottom line is this: The life I am living is exactly that; it is my life. It was granted to me and only me. It wasn’t rented to me for a couple days out of the week and then leased to someone else. It is mine to cherish, preserve, protect, serve, and value. I have, in my possession, all of the ownership deeds, rights, and titles. Therefore, this life is solely mine to live.
At the end of the day, people love to talk. Some will surely talk when you’re not doing your best, and some will still talk even when you are doing your best. Others will just talk for the sake of exercising their jaw. Who cares? Let them all talk! All that ever matters is what you are doing for yourself. Strive to grow yourself into a better person, daily; not for the gratification of others, but for your own. Set and conquer the most audacious goals you can dream up; not for the sense of accomplishment from others, but for your own. Live your life for the most important person that is in it; that person is you!