From time to time, I share my personal revelations and life lessons on Instagram or Facebook. Recently when I shared one, a friend encouraged me to blog about it and share my truth here on Afrobella.com. That inspired this new series, Last Week’s Lesson. I hope others can learn from my experiences!
I used to be the kind of person who always wanted the approval of others. All through primary school, high school, college – even into my working years. I used to care tremendously what people thought about me, and if someone didn’t like me I wondered what I had done to cause it and I would let it bother me. Like, REALLY bother me. Over time that burning concern about what other people thought of me, that need for the approval of others, has been exfoliated away by life experience. Instead, I’ve come to realize a few things that I’d like to share with you.
Number one – It’s easier said than done, but you gotta stop worrying about what other people think. Worrying about what other people think about what you do or wear or just how you live your life is restrictive and counter productive. You can’t control what other people think, but you can control your response to it. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you or what you do. All that really matters is what YOU think. Worrying about what other people think can hold you back from living life on your own terms or achieving goals you may have set for yourself. It can postpone making your dreams into reality, if you let it. It can restrict you from being yourself and living your best life. And that’s a real shame. I had to learn to lay down the expectations of others. I respect them, I understand them…but I had to stop letting those expectations and concerns hold me back.
Number 2 – Realize this isn’t really about you. There are SO many reasons why a person may not like another person. Most of the time, it has very little to do with you and everything to do with them, their past experiences, past pains, self-doubt, current assumptions or crosses to bear.
The most important thing with regards to this point, is to take nothing personally. This Marie Forleo video about getting brushed off comes most immediately to mind.
ADORE Marie Forleo,and if you’re not familiar with her brand of wisdom and wit, I suggest you get familiar. She’s amazing and her advice is on point. The lessons in that video clip have stuck with me, and they apply to everything from business communications to personal relationships. Take nothing personally. I’m currently re-reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom and it’s so filled with reminders we need to get through this thing called life. I wish I knew more about taking nothing personally back in my high school and college days, instead of assuming the worst all the time.
Number 3 – Shake it off. Celebrate your own victories and find your own fulfillment. There comes a point when your inner people-pleasing switch will flip, and you will have to come to terms with your own feelings. Ask yourself those tough questions about what bothers you and why it bothers you. Looking within can help you resolve some of those questions. You have to be able to recognize if you have some getting over to get over, and why that might be. It takes a bit of mindfulness and self awareness to break the pattern of approval seeking. It’s important to find that inner wellspring of joy and contentment within yourself, before looking to others for confirmation of those emotions.
I’m in a place where I do still care about what people think, but it’s not about the approval of strangers, likes on social media or any of those transient things that may be here today and gone tomorrow. I care about the thoughts and feedback of my family and my husband, and a handful of close friends. But my happiness, confidence and fulfillment comes from within. I’ve had to learn to stop looking to others for what is already inside me. It took me a while to get here, but I’m here and it feels good.
That’s what I’ve BEEN learning for a while now, but all of that was reinforced for me last week. That was last week’s lesson.
What are your thoughts? Are you a people pleaser who seeks the approval of others? What have you learned?