“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” ~ Dr Seuss
I have this memory of participating in a school race when I was 9, it was sports day and I remember spotting my mum amongst the crowd of parents. My heart was pounding before I even started to run, it was a mixture of shyness and excitement, most of all it was a feeling of dread, I so badly wanted to win and I knew I had the potential to win, but I didn’t want the focus to be on me for even a second. I was bullied badly in that school and wasn’t viewed as a winner, I’d die of shame if people cheered for me because I thought it would be out of pity, for some crazy reason I’d even feel bad for the people that didn’t win. So the race began, off we went, I focused on the track and after a while noticed there was no one running alongside me, I realized I was in the lead and could see the finishing line close by, then, I did the most foolish thing… I actually stopped running and let the person behind me pass and win the race *facepalm*. People shouted at me to keep going but I felt like a fraud, almost as if I wasn’t even good enough to be a part of that race.
When we are worrying about how others perceive us, the questions that float around in our minds are usually – Will I be judged, will I be criticized? Do they think I’m annoying? Will they think I’m a fraud?
Compromising our sense of self to fit in is not the way, it’s draining and tiring.
In my early 20s, I spent a lot of my time keeping up appearances and doing stuff I didn’t genuinely want to do, purely down to what others might expect and not wanting to let others down, even though those same people may have let me down in return. There have been countless times I have not fully expressed myself due to worrying about how someone else may feel, containing myself to never offend or outshine that other person. Now I’m not saying we should abandon all social awareness, offend and stop caring about other’s feelings. Being self-aware and having the ability to relate to others is a skill worth having and one I pride myself on. What I am saying is, You are changing your values, denying yourself and overlooking your needs in fear of rejection. We all want to be loved, so we worry about how others perceive us through fear of not being accepted.
There’s a difference between wanting to be accepted and actually basing your self-worth on if someone likes you.
I’m under no illusion that some of the people I know talk shit about me from time to time, this is life. What I’m certain of is that I have a select few people I can count on when things get tough. Let’s face it, not everyone will love you and YOU won’t love everyone either. Don’t let go of your self to please a crowd of people, you can’t please everyone and no matter how much you think you have this in hand and how much you think you’ve won them over, I can guarantee you, someone is thinking the opposite. There are no winners in the game of people-pleasing.
The saddest part of all of this is that…
It’s holding you back from doing what you want to do.
So, how do you stop letting people’s opinions and your own overthinking from having control? Well, first of all, you will always feel a little pang of doubt and that’s natural. What you can do is change your mindset to take back control. When you get that feeling of doubt, ask yourself this:
- What would be the worst outcome?
- Will that person REALLY care in the long run?
- Think of the sacrifices you’ve made and the good deads you’ve done for others
- Remind yourself of all the things that make you unique and a great person to be around
One thing we can all agree on is that most people are so focused on their own lives, they don’t actually care as much as your mind may tell you they do.
When you’re grey and old, will you look back and feel satisfied that you lived the life you want, or, will you look back and wish you had cared slightly less about what others thought?
All this talk of accepting and loving absolutely everyone, that’s unrealistic. The hard truth is this. No matter how likable you try to be or how perfect you make your life appear, you will never know or have control over what people think. Everyone is imperfect and your cup of tea might not be mine, hers or his. Thank goodness for individuality! So I say, give your mind a break and replace those self-doubts with kindness, stop feeling obliged to go along with things you don’t want to do and start spending your time and energy more wisely. That person’s opinion of you or your own self-doubt does not change the fact that you are strong-willed, educated, funny, beautiful inside AND out, well-traveled, loved, wise, inspiring, unique and interesting.
This is why this simple but clever quote by Dr. Seuss is something we all need to remind ourselves. if someone negatively concerns themselves with your life, do they really matter? Are you going to let someone else’s opinion of you (or what your MIND TELLS YOU) dictate your decisions and make you feel less, or are you going to focus on you, filter out the crap, pass that finishing line and win that race?