Earlier in my adult life – especially during my 20s – my self-worth was 100% dependent on what YOU thought of me.
If you liked me, thought I was smart, thought I was capable, thought I was loveable – then I was.
The bad news was that the alternative was also true. If you didn’t like me, weren’t impressed with me, didn’t approve of me, and especially if you judged me – then I was worthless.
My life was like a ping pong game.
I chased and chased after the ever elusive outside approval that would make me finally comfortable in my own skin. But just as soon as I’d achieve it, some other shoe would drop – I’d rub someone the wrong way, or let someone down, or fail at a task people were counting on… and the shame that overwhelmed me was indescribable.
Approval was like a drug. It lasted for shorter and shorter increments before the “coming down” and needing more and more to get that high (which for me was a feeling of belonging and of value).
Eventually I knew I couldn’t live this way. The stress was too high. The trying to keep up with others desires and expectations was too exhausting. If this was as good as it gets, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay on the planet.
Thus started my personal growth journey.
Through years of therapy, counseling, coaching, and being facilitated in workshops, seminars, and programs in a variety of modalities, I’ve learned that in truth, what other people think of me is actually none of my business.
It turns out that other people see me the way THEY need to!
Every one of us has core filters through which we see the world. However I may show up, one person will perceive me one way, and another will perceive me another way.
This means that neither perception is “truth,” is it?
For example, let’s say I show up at a party being truly myself, which is pretty strong, grounded, articulate, and very warm. One person might say “Oh, I just adore her. She’s so upbeat, she possesses such passion, I really love her confidence.” Another person might say “She’s so stuck up and full of herself – thinks she’s better than the rest of us. I’m totally turned off.”
This example demonstrates clearly that NEITHER one of these is true. (Alas, not even the first one).
Yep. In the New York Theatre world they always remind the actors that both the positive and negative reviews do not mean a thing – neither is “right.”
So what matters most: What do YOU think of you?
Do you like and respect how you show up in the world? Do you admire yourself? Are you loving and compassionate with yourself in the face of mistakes? Are you your best cheerleader and advocate?
Note that ALL of those examples reside inside yourself. That’s the place to look, and to pump up your self-acceptance and self-love if needed.
So the next time you feel preoccupied about what other people are concluding about you for any reason at all, remind yourself this powerful phrase “What other people think of me is none of my business.”
Put the focus back on being compassionate, acknowledging and loving with yourself. THAT’S a choice that’s within your control.