There’s something that I’ve noticed with the increasing regularity of late: The extent to which we allow other people’s perceptions of us to affect our everyday experience. In other words, WE CARE WAY TOO MUCH WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK!
Why do we care so much about what other people think of us?
We ALL do it.
Yes, you too..!
And in small ways that we’re not always consciously aware of.
Ask yourself these questions:
When I dress every morning, do I choose clothes that I FEEL good in? Or clothes that I think I’ll LOOK good in. (can you see the difference?)
If I’m spending the day at home alone, do I put make-up on? Who do I wear make-up for?
Am I able to post an opinion on social media WITHOUT checking for likes/dislikes?
In fact, am I able to spontaneously post a comment on social media WITHOUT deleting 20 draft versions beforehand?
Do you get where I’m going with this?
Yes, dear friends. It’s a fact.
We’re a society that’s OBSESSED with external validation.
But before we all hang our heads in shame, let’s be realistic. We’re taught from a young age to be hyper-aware of other’s opinions. That they’re important. That they MEAN something about our value.
My mom hid my divorce from her extended family for 3 years. Such was the extent of her fear.
Closer to home, I admit, I’ve been guilty on some level of all the items I’ve listed above. And plenty more. Maybe not so much now, but most definitely as a young adult.
In fact, there was a time in my younger years when I could easily liken myself to a chameleon.
Yup, a chameleon.
I was that person who morphed into whatever I thought my significant other needed me to be.
Because THEN (and only then) would they like me.
And then I’d be happy.
Or so I believed.
In those days, I truly thought that manipulating other people’s perceptions of me was the answer to soothing my feelings of lack.
I know, I was pretty extreme.
But my message is this:
Until we can be COMFORTABLE with ourselves, until we can ACCEPT ourselves, what other people think of us will continue to influence our sense of worth.
Think of someone (anyone) who you perceive to be confident (Amy Schumer and Ricky Gervais come to mind).
I’m willing to bet that they care very little about how people perceive them.
I’m also willing to bet that they feel a healthy dose of acceptance for themselves AS THEY ARE.
Ok, so point made.
But how do we shift away from this..?
Well, we can start by NOTICING when we’re doing it.
And OWNING that WITHOUT self-judgment.
And when you’ve noticed it, ask yourself: does this behavior LIMIT my experience in any way?
If it doesn’t, then leave it alone (we are human, remember?).
But if it does, and you want that to shift, then it’s time to go within a bit.
Unearth the hidden fears behind those feelings of unworthiness, and slowly start to peel them away. Layer by layer. One at a time.
It can be challenging so if necessary, seek assistance.
And remember, most of us have been practicing this behavior for decades! It’s a habit. Our default.
So be kind to yourself. Be patient.
It’ll take time to consciously shift into a new way of perceiving yourself.
Because THAT’S all that really matters in the long run: How we perceive ourselves.