“She’ll never make that work!”
“She’s a fool to think she can do that!”
“I can’t wait to see her fall flat on her face!”
“There she goes with another of her hare-brained schemes!”
“Who does she think she is?”
Have you ever wanted to do something? Really, really wanted to do it? But have held yourself back because you’re worried that people will say, or think, something along those lines above?
You and me both. And much of the population in fact. Because the fear of other people judging our efforts is paralysing. Worse even than the possibility that it might all go wrong, is the concern that, if it does all go wrong, people will think less of you, mock you, or outright shun you. And, sometimes, even if it all goes right, people may feel you’ve moved on without them, or think you’ve gone and gotten yourself a big head. And yet, the number one regret of those about to exit this world, is that they lived the life that others’ expected of them, instead of the life they really wanted for themselves.
So, if you want to avoid ending up with the same regret, and instead live a life you can fully engage in, and be truly proud of (rather than a life lived to fulfil other peoples’ ideals), then you need to learn to stop giving headspace to what other people will think of you?
Easier said than done? Well, let’s see shall we?
1. Recognise How Rarely They Think of You at All
Actually, one of the biggest issues here is utter fantasy. Just because you are the leading lady in your own life, doesn’t mean that anyone else spends much of their time paying attention to what you do when. In fact, it’s quite the contrary, because your life is probably pretty insignificant to others, excepting perhaps your nearest and dearest, because they have their own lives to worry about. For example, think of someone that you believe has made some bad decisions in life. And then consider how much time you’ve actually spent worrying or mocking them for their decisions. Chances are that the answer is, “Not much”. So, be realistic. Most people won’t give you more than a fleeting thought because they already have a starring role in their own lives!
2. Realise How Little Impact Their Opinions Have
OK, so even if people do have an opinion about you, what difference does it make to you really? If the girl in accounts, who you don’t even like, thinks you’re bonkers, does it really matter? If your peers see you mess up, will your career be over? Will your friends disown you? Will you stop breathing? So often, clients make comments like, “I’d die if such-and-such found out…”, and I always point out the obvious. You don’t die of embarrassment. And, actually, the only reason those opinions, or that embarrassment, has so much power, is because you allow it. You choose to make it into a big deal, when actually it doesn’t need to be. It is your pride that makes it so difficult to bear the embarrassment, so give up your pride and remember it’s more important to live the life you want, than to make other people think you have the life they want.
3. Stop Mind Reading
Anytime you catch yourself guessing what people think of you (or may think of you if you make a certain decision or take a specific action); STOP! Immediately! Because, frankly my dear, you don’t know what anyone thinks. You might be able to take a guess at someone else’s thoughts, based on the way they act or the way you’ve seen them react in the past, but that still doesn’t mean that you know what they really think and believe. And, the more time you waste on what they think, the less time you focus on what you think. So, instead, refuse to indulge and just put all of your focus into what you think because, once you know in your own mind, what you really want to do, you’ll find it much easier to ignore the opinions of others.
4. Note the Difference between People Who Matter and People Who Don’t
Now, I’m not suggesting that anybody doesn’t matter but, in the grand scheme of your own life, the opinions of strangers shouldn’t factor in your decision-making. Similarly, not doing what you want because you think your enemies will get a kick out of seeing you fail, is pretty self-defeating. The only people whose opinions you should give any consideration to, whatsoever, are the people you care about, and the people who may be impacted by your choices. But, when it comes to considering the opinions of those people, don’t allow your plans to be thwarted just because they’re afraid. Listen to their concerns and check whether they are genuinely going to be negatively impacted or if they’re just being fearful. If it’s the former, then you need to consider that impact and decide whether it’s acceptable. If it’s the latter, you should offer reassurance but refuse to get sucked in to their fear. Instead, seek support from someone who is objective, less involved, and is skilled at helping you to achieve.
You see, even though it seems impossible to ignore others’ opinions, it’s actually really simple. And, the best advice I can give you is to start today. Put these steps into action and begin training yourself to focus on what you want, instead of what other people may or may not want for you. Through regular repetition, you’ll soon find that it’s a doddle, and it’ll become easier and easier to prevent the opinions of others from boxing you in!