I grew up with that statement as a belief system – handed down to me from my parents and their parents before them.
What will people think?
Up until my most recent past few years, I did not realize just how much that statement shaped my thinking, my actions, my relationships, my career. What will people think if you…?
The impact of this belief system was almost unconscious – it was such a part of me, that I did not even realize how detrimental it was to the person I was, until I started to dig into becoming the person I wanted to be – the person who was struggling with the presumed judgements of others – the person who decided one day that she did not want to give a shit about what other people thought of her – what she was doing, how she was living her life and the choices she was making.
Cause really, it is MY life, and my choice to live, do, say whatever is the best for me. If I don’t own it, then who will?
Here is what I know for sure. To have your life ruled by that belief system of What Will People Think – we are limiting ourselves to Fear-based thinking. This can be paralyzing. Mired down in the concern about how our actions may be viewed by others hampers the ability of us to do what is right for us.
Fear is a funny thing – we fear the unknown and the risks involved in stepping outside of our self-imposed boxes. We become more vulnerable. Top that kind of thinking off with the added scrum of the concern about what other people will think of us, and we end up dead in the water. No movement forward – stagnant.
What I have learned over the many years I have been on this planet is that when I stopped caring about what other people thought, I pursued passions and a life that was more in alignment with who I truly am. I moved away from being the end product of someone else’s beliefs about what was best for me. They don’t know what is best for me. Only I do.
People love to observe what other people are doing – and there are those who may take a negative viewpoint on what others are doing. So the belief system ends up being supported by the judgement received from others.
What did people think?
Have you ever experienced negative feedback from someone about something you have chosen to do for yourself – maybe you are losing weight, maybe you are pursuing a relationship with someone that is deemed “not good enough for you”, how you are parenting, going through a life change or maybe you are taking courses or just adopting a new attitude about your life.
What happened next? Did you continue on your merry way or did you STOP and start to question your motivations? Did you start to think that you were doing something wrong? How did you feel? How did their judgement of you make you FEEL?
What did you do?
I used to stop. Full Stop. After all, they know what is better for me Right? I must be doing something that would not be good for me, because they said so. Right?
And then, I would go back to my less than genuine self. The person who had dreams, but did not pursue them, the person who lived in the shadow of herself and wondered why she was bored with her life and felt so disconnected with herself. How did I feel?
Like crap. I was mired down in questioning myself, questioning my intuition and everything else. I was unhappy. Then I woke up and I came to the following realization.
No one has the right to judge you for what you do in your life. No one. You own it.
Anyone who feels the need to judge you (and this can even be silently so you are not even aware of it) is usually not happy with their own life. There may be some envy coming your way – you are taking control of your life and they are not. They are using their own issues to sabotage what you are doing so that they feel ok with their own lives. Some people can be quite verbal in their judgement and you hear it, and some people may not be, but you still notice it in their actions (or lack thereof).
God forbid that you take control of your life to make it feel more like your own life.
When we decide to change our lives for the better – to become more aligned within ourselves, there is bound to be some folks out there who don’t like the new you, likely because it shines more light on their own lives and what may be lacking for them. The trick here is to realize that what those people really want is what is best for THEM. Not you.
What Will People Think if I….?
I don’t care. I really don’t care. This has taken me a long time to say. I had to get to the bottom of why I used to care, because I did… deeply. It’s hard to throw away a belief system that has been around for years. It takes work, but it is worth it.
So, am I perfect with this now? No, I’m not. However, I am much better at realizing when I am going down a path of caring more about what others think and re-directing my thoughts to what is best for me, but it still happens. Old habits are hard to break.
What I am now is aware of it, and acutely aware of how others opinions can take me to a place that I don’t want to go – a place that is better for them and not for me.
What I am also aware of is how I need to ensure that I don’t do the same thing to others. To live a life without judgement of others – realizing that we all have the ability to choose our own paths, and to recognize that when other people are changing around me, I am not a participant in it – it is their journey and I’m sure that they have given a lot of thought to the path they are choosing and I support them no matter what they do. It ain’t easy folks, but it feels more in alignment with who I want to be.
Lesson learned. And the practice continues.
What do you think?