Care about other people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner. -Lao Tzu
people frequently ask me this question:
how do i stop giving a sh*t about what other people think?
i kid. but not really.
the truth is, anyone who isn’t a sociopath is going to care what other people think.
so, the question is flawed. i’ll explain.
i have a friend who acts without attachment to the opinions of others. i have always viewed her as a mythical creature possessing a skill i desperately desired. we were hanging out a few years ago when i asked her, “have you always been able to not care what other people think?” i can clearly remember how i felt when she replied, “i’ve always been this way. it’s just who i am.”
it was a gut punch.
dang. so, what? i’m destined to be stuck in this perpetual cycle of people pleasing for the rest of my life?
now, i’m not saying that answer wasn’t true for her. in fact, i believe it is and i believe it is for many. the problem was, i wasn’t the many.
and if you are not the many either, keep reading…
first, let’s change the question:
how can i care deeply, AND not give a sh*t?
friend, you can learn how to care deeply AND not give a sh*t. you can hear the opinions of others AND not be stopped by them. you can learn to process feedback as feedback AND not take it as a personal attack. you can learn to understand that other people are sharing their experiences of you AND not take on their experiences as your own truth.
now, this is an individual conversation filled with individual answers, but from my experience– both as a coach and as someone who lived most of her life addicted to attention and approval; most of us who are in the cycle of people-pleasing have equated our safety and stability with making others happy.
i will be okay if everyone else is okay.
the danger here is that when we outsource our stability, safety, and security; we are not in control of the one thing we have any control over: OURSELVES.
we become paranoid in our compulsive obsession of what other people are thinking, preoccupied with personal manipulation in an attempt to please them, and completely sacrificing self in the process.
you can care deeply and not be stopped by their opinions, but in order to do that, you have to be willing to confront and heal your relationship to your own judgments of you.
nothing anyone says about you has the power to shake you; unless there is a part of you that believes the things they are saying.
we have to first, heal our relationship with our reflection.
when there is no longer personal pain projected, we are much better equipped to take action on our goals without weaving our judgments into the conversation pretending they belong to others.