Written by Jiovann Carrasco, LPC-S
Worrying about what others think limits you. How has worrying about what someone else might think kept you from doing something? Has it kept you from speaking up in a business meeting? Has it kept you from dancing at a party? Has it kept you from talking to that girl? Why do you avoid her when she only rejects you in your own mind? It’s like drawing boundaries with chalk based on your assumptions of what others think and then staying within those boundaries as if they were walls. It’s a man-made, imaginary prison. People don’t think about you as much as you think they do. It is you who are preoccupied with you. And guess what? They are most likely preoccupied with themselves. They are worried about what other people think of them! And this doesn’t mean they don’t care about you or don’t like you. They just happen to have a locus of observation that originates outside of your head. So leave them to their perceptions, regardless of how much space you think you deserve to take up in their consciousness.
Nobody is living their life at you. Every day you will see many people who you assume are doing much better than you. They’re prettier, thinner, wealthier, more confident, funnier, smarter, dress better, and are much, much cooler than you. But they aren’t being who they are AT YOU. They’re living their lives the best they know how, regardless of how you measure up. Yet, we can be very judgmental toward these “better-off’s” as if they are shoving their success in our face. Being successful at us. And this goes for people whose opinions offend you, too. There is nothing that anyone can say that is not going to offend someone. If you have an opinion about anything, I guarantee you there is someone who is going to disagree. And if they do, it isn’t because of you. It isn’t about them. The problem is not that others do not regard you as significant or worthy or whatever else you would like people to think of you. Those others do not have the power to determine your value unless you give up your right to do so and choose to adopt their evaluations. If you aren’t on your side, then it doesn’t matter how many other people are because you won’t even notice. If you think you are worthless, nobody will ever convince you otherwise. So you have to . . . Learn to love yourself. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m sure you’ve heard that ten times a day in your social media feeds alone. We all know that it’s true, but HOW do you do it? This isn’t easy, especially if you have a long history of devaluing yourself, which is often preceded by unsupportive parenting. We learn to love by being loved as children, so without loving role models we are left to figure it out on our own. But if you can, think of love as a verb, it may be easier to start. What does a parent do when they love their child? They quickly respond to his cries of distress. They hold and soothe him to bring him comfort. They spend time with him and give him all their attention. They smile at him and move heaven and earth to make him laugh. They feed him nourishing meals and are proactive about keeping him healthy. They tell him, “I love you!” several times everyday. When’s the last time you did any of those things for yourself? You are your responsibility. Take care of you and let other people think what they want. Michelangelo said something about how every block of stone is a statue waiting to be discovered. You are the sculptor of your block of stone. And they are the sculptor of theirs. You can do nothing about theirs and they can do nothing about yours. So grab a chisel and get to work.