"What Are They Thinking About Me?"By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 13, 2010
How would you feel and what would you do differently in your life if you gave up worrying about what others think of you - if you gave up your illusion of control over others' feelings and thoughts?
Why should most people be thinking about you? They are far more concerned with what you are thinking about them to spend time thinking about you!
Right now, take a moment to ponder the question: "How would I feel and what would I do differently if I never thought about what people think of me?"
I pondered this question many years ago and discovered some things that changed my life:
- I discovered that I felt anxious whenever I worried about what someone thought of me, which made it impossible to be myself. As soon as I was concerned about their judgment or approval, I tried to become what I thought they wanted me to be to gain their approval. This made me so tense that even if I got their approval, I still felt bad.
- I discovered that I was drawn to being with judgmental people - people who were very much like my parents - and I was addicted to trying to get these judgmental people to approve of me. I saw that this was a dead end - that I had no control over getting judgmental and rejecting people to be loving and kind, and I stopped being drawn to these people.
- I discovered that even if I got their approval, it was always short-lived and I had to keep looking good and performing right to get it again. This was an exhausting way to live.
- I discovered that no matter how hard I worked on doing things right and being perfect and never making a mistake or failing, some people liked me and some didn't. I learned that if I was just myself and gave up being right and perfect, some people liked me and some didn't. I finally saw that trying so hard to get love or approval was a complete waste of my time and energy!
- I discovered that I was confusing love and approval. I learned that love is that which is unconditional and that people either gave it freely or they didn't and it was not something I could earn or control. I might be able to control getting some approval, but not love.
- I learned that, while approval felt good for the moment, it never fully filled me with love for myself, or confidence in myself.
- I discovered that when I gave myself the approval, love and attention that I was trying so hard to get from others, life became much easier and more fun!
By really paying attention to my feelings and actions, I was able to completely give up even thinking about what others thought of me. I discovered the truth of what Terry Cole Whitaker said in the title of her book, "What Others Think Of Me Is None Of My Business."
It is such a freedom to never think about what others think of me! I am free to speak my truth, to say yes or no according to what is in my highest good, to love with my whole heart and soul, to freely offer my gifts and talents, to trust my own feelings and higher guidance rather than buy into others' beliefs and opinions, to not be controlled by fear of making a mistake or fear of others' judgment, to laugh as loud as long as I want as I want, and to cry when I am hurting or moved.
I am free to love myself and share my love with others with no agenda regarding how they will feel about me, and this is the greatest joy of all.
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Speak your truth to others in the moment, or as soon are you are aware of it. If you choose not to speak your truth, then let the issue go. Resenting the other when you choose not to speak your truth only leads to stress and distance with others.
By Dr. Margaret Paul