No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. – Eleanor Roosevelt
It has taken me many many many years to realize I will never ever be able to make everyone happy. I struggled for so long trying to be a “people pleaser”. I was always so worried about everyone liking me or that I might make someone mad and then they wouldn’t like me. Then they would tell their friends and their friends wouldn’t like me or their parents wouldn’t like me. It was ridiculous!
This is part 2 of a previous post on insecurity. A brief summary was a traumatic experience I had with bullies in the 7th grade created this monstrous insecurity in me and I am just now tracing it back to that moment. Once I got past the meanness and attitude I became more of an introvert. I held everything in until I would just explode. It made me a very angry individual. I was never happy and was always uptight. Don’t get me wrong; I could have fun. I actually had a lot of fun. But I was usually over sensitive and paranoid girls/women were talking badly about me or pointing at me. As if I was the only thing people had to talk about! Humph.
I am almost thirty years old and I am just now getting to the point that I can live with someone not liking me or talking badly about me. I will not allow anyone else to make me feel bad because they do not approve of me. I am the only one that can give them that power and I choose not to. It has been a long journey but I am getting there. But you know…I have noticed the less I care what people think of me the better they like me and the more we get along. I have a quirky sense of humor that can sometimes be a little dry. And I am okay with that. I sometimes crack jokes at inopportune times and hear crickets. I constantly make jokes at home and my husband just looks at me like I have lost my mind. I just look at him and say, “That was funny.” Then he laughs on cue.
There are three sure-fire ways to eliminate criticism in your life: be dreadfully normal, do not take any risks whatsoever, and do your best to sacrifice what is special and unique about yourself in order to blend in as much as possible. ( <—-dry sense of humor joke) Of course this is not a way to live your best life. You cannot avoid criticism, but you can learn to live with it and not allow it have such a grip on your life — in other words, you can get to the point where you care so much about yourself or your idea that you’re not sidelined by a critical comment, negative review, or raised eyebrow.
Here are some other tips that have helped me get over worrying about everyone elses opinion of me:
- Find a role model– There are a couple of people who I know that do not give one flying hoot what people think of them. They are well liked by the majority of people. My mother in law killed me when I would come to pick up Gavin after she kept him for me. I would walk in her house and he would be dressed in flowery swim shorts, a pajama shirt, long socks, and flip-flops. Which wouldn’t be so bad if they were hanging at the house, but most of the time they had just gotten back from the mall. I would say, “Did you let him dress himself?” And she would just look at me and grin and reply, “Of course.” And she did not care who stared at his atrocious attire. It didn’t bother her one bit. I would have an anxiety attack. Ha ha
- Focus where it counts– Whether you are interviewing for a job, pitching a new client, writing a book, submitting a blog post, dancing, or asking for a raise, the more you can focus on the task at hand, the less energy you’ll waste being afraid or worrying.
- Be careful who you ask- Stop asking people what they think of you and your ideas — especially people who are critical, unsuccessful, or unhappy. Their comments will be less about your idea and more of a reflection of their negative and unhealthy state. Plus, half the time you really don’t want to know what they think anyway!
- Desensitize yourself- What is the absolute worst case scenario? A bad review? Being booed off stage? Getting fired? Imagine the absolute worst case scenario, and then ask yourself, “Could I survive that?”
- Stop listening to negative comments- What you don’t know can’t hurt you,right? Stop people in their tracks when they start to tell you what your neighbor, Mary Lou Freebush, said about you.
- Dont need to please everyone– All it takes is 51% of the people to like you (and sometimes not even that) to become President of the United States. This means that the most powerful person in the world has a job where half the country wants to fire him. No matter who you are or what you do, there will always be people who won’t agree. Accept it or hide. Those are the only two options.
It can be extremely hard to overlook the opinions of our peers, competitors and naysayers especially when such a strong desire to fit in resides in our hearts. I want to move beyond placing so much value on what people think about me and put more focus on what GOD says about me.