Stop Caring What They Think!
You can’t do THAT! What would they think? How would that look? What would people say?
If you’re human, you’ve undoubtedly been faced with these words at some point.
They may be phrases spoken silently by your inner Gollum (the name I give the critical voice in our heads), or they may be spoken out loud by family, friends, colleagues, even people who hardly know us but think they have a right to chime in and offer up their opinion.
We may take these words so seriously that they stop us from doing the things we really want to do, the things that feel true for us. In fact, we may be so impacted by the idea of what other people think of us, that we become paralyzed into non-action. We may live our whole lives in servitude to making the ‘right’ impression on our family, friends, and society, to the detriment of our own soul's calling.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Well, let’s face it, we’re trained from birth to be people pleasers. From infancy, we get the message that if we behave in ways that mom, dad, granny, teacher, friend, partner, boss, (insert authority figure here) approve of, then we’re praised, validated, rewarded, encouraged.
Whereas if we behave in ways that the people in our life/society don’t approve of, then we face criticism, judgement, perhaps being ignored, and maybe even punished. Those are all pretty damn uncomfortable feelings! Most humans don’t much like feeling uncomfortable. So, we bend over backwards to behave in ways that will get us outside approval, regardless of how it feels inside.
Here’s the question: Exactly whose life are you living?
The answer (in case you need to hear it) is, YOUR life! You are living YOUR life and no one else’s! We ALL are. Even if we tell ourselves otherwise. We can't live anyone else's life, and try as they might, they can't live ours either.
So, if we're living our own life, (which as we've established is the only life we can possibly live), it makes zero sense to spend so much of our time and energy giving all the fucks about what everyone else thinks! What we need to be paying more attention to is what WE think about ourselves and how we feel.
Right now, you might be saying, “Lara, that's totally unrealistic! We can’t just all go around doing whatever the hell we want. We need to give a damn about other people's feelings and how our choices impact them!”
And I say, "You’re totally right!"
I’m not proposing that we all go around like, "Eff you! I don't care what you think and I'm going to do this even if it hurts you (or me).” That would be a terrible idea.
When you’re a grown adult, following every childish impulse and conducting yourself like a 'sailor on shore leave', just makes you an asshole, or maybe a person with some serious issues that need working through.
Acting like the world revolves around you, or thinking you're entitled to behave in immoral, unconscionable, nefarious ways, really has zero to do with not caring about the opinion of others.
In fact, it probably means you care so freaking much about what other people think, that you're compromising your integrity and doing things that honestly don’t feel good deep down, but are rather for a quick hit of adrenaline, perceived power, or external validation.
Doing whatever you feel like in the moment, is so not what I'm getting at here! Sending the raging email, cheating on the spouse, berating the kid, taking what doesn’t belong to you, drinking till you pass out, punching the guy in the head, making the nasty comment, getting the passive aggressive dig in, eating the whole box of cookies in the bathroom, telling the teacher off, spreading the rumour, buying the vote, telling the lie… will ultimately just leave you feeling empty, violated, shameful, guilty, and disempowered.
Here’s the thing, the more we love our decisions/actions/behaviours, the less we need others to love them. If we’re acting in true integrity, we don’t behave unethically, crassly or childishly, because unless we have a serious psychological issue, we cannot truthfully say that we enjoy doing things that we KNOW will make us feel crappy, or that will ultimately damage those we claim to care about.
So, to be clear, not caring about what other people think, isn’t the same as not caring about other people! We should definitely care about others, but we should also care about ourselves equally.
And here’s where it gets even more paradoxical…
When we start to come into alignment by living in integrity and being true to ourselves, it may (it will, guaranteed) cause some disruption and discomfort in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
When we start to care less about what others think and more about how we feel and think about ourselves, we will inevitably piss some people off. The difference is, we aren’t doing it intentionally. We aren't consciously choosing to be nasty, mean, hurtful, uncaring or defiant. We're simply choosing to follow our own soul’s calling. How can that be wrong?
The answer is, it can't. When we make a choice to live true to ourselves and in honest service to our soul's calling, it’s always for the highest good and the benefit of all – even when it’s difficult.
When we begin to grow and change and become more of who we really are, when we begin to give the arbitrary rules of life the middle finger, when we begin to shine our light more brightly, not everyone will get it, not everyone will like it. Some people might pretend to get it, but secretly roll their eyes at you behind your back. Don't worry, that's about them, it's not about you.
Feeling like you're too much for some people, or that you’re not living up to the socially approved standards and expectations, can get bloody uncomfortable! There's no denying it.
But you know what's even more uncomfortable? Being confined by other people's opinions and judgements. Feeling out of alignment with yourself. Keeping the authentic you small and hidden and caged up, just so you can fit in. That shit right there is uncomfortable!
Compromising your personal values, your core desires and your soul’s intentions for the comfort of others, while you suffer in silence, is no way to live!
So my brave and beautiful friend, stop giving so many fucks about what everyone else thinks, and start living your life! Let your light shine! Fly that freak flag high!
Their approval is not required.