This is a continuation of the Weekly Wisdom Article.
I was brought up and lived in the UK until 1979 when, as a family, husband and two children, we moved to the US and ultimately became citizens. One of the reasons I’m writing about this is because I was asked why it happens when we become adults. When I write about specific topics, yes I’ve had lots of training, but I have also experienced and learned from going through it myself. For many years I based most things on what other people may think.
When I think about this, there’s always one instance that sticks in my mind. Someone I was friendly with wanted a specific kind of bread, for what I now can’t remember, which could only be found at a bakery about 35 miles from where we lived. She wasn’t willing to drive that far so I said I would go.
She wasn’t sick, she had a car, she could have used a different bread and I didn’t have to offer to get it. However I thought if I didn’t do this she probably wouldn’t like me anymore. I was more worried about what she would think of me than what I needed to do for my own family. So, I traipsed across London to get someone bread just because I was worried about what she would think if I didn’t do that for her!
Lao Tzu said: “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” I was a prisoner to this kind of thinking for many years before I changed my thinking, self- limiting beliefs and set boundaries.
Up until about two years old the world really tends to revolve around you. So much so, that your parents set their schedule by your habits and adjust their lives to meet your needs, match your moods, your health and your personality. Around this age social norms begin to influence how your parents react to you in nearly every situation. Depending on their parenting style, you likely developed a sense of right and wrong and what behaviors and actions brought negative consequences or positive rewards.
Around five years old, you may have started kindergarten where a whole new set of influencers began to shape your behaviors. Again, depending on the style of the teachers, you began to form ideas of what helped you fit in, get ahead, and overall get along. What the adults didn’t influence, the other kids did. Depending on the dynamics of your playground and classroom, you learned how the way you behaved meant you either made friends or you didn’t.
As you start to get older, what other people think of you – what you wear, how you act, and much more – begin to make an impact. Their opinions influence how you develop. You adjust yourself to fit in whether you feel like going in that direction or not. Which brings you to adulthood. You now have years of conditioning to think and act in certain ways to get the results you want.
- Helping people even when not asked
- Giving gifts so people will like you
- Being over accommodating
- And much more
Other people’s opinions matter to us because they become a barometer or measurement of where we stand. Even the ones who seem to care the least about being accepted, tend to be hiding behind a huge wall that protects their fears of being rejected.
Opinions influence us because:
- We aren’t really confident in who we are
- We don’t have a personal identity
- We have been humiliated or bullied
- We live within cultural boundaries
It is of course important to consider other people because we live in communities and many of our choices can have an impact on others. However, once others have been taken into consideration, what you like, how you express yourself and how you show up in the world should be based on what makes the most sense for you, not what others might think of you.
One of the things I added to my life in the last year is intermittent fasting so that I could feel healthier and perhaps even lose some weight. This meant for me, that I needed to work with a nutrition expert so that I could stay on track and eat the right foods.
“You can’t please everyone.” No truer words have ever been spoken.
You only live once. Live in the NOW, moment to moment. Living to please others is not going to make your time easier or happier. It will make it artificial and insipid. Free yourself, do your thing and forget what other people think.
You can be with people who disagree with how you dress, with your politics and your religion. Some will agree on some things, others won’t. So what! Part of the fun in life is diversity. Imagine how boring life would be if everyone thought about everything the same way.
Finding new circles of people who embrace different aspects of your life expands your world and widens your influence.
Anytime you modify your behavior to accommodate the opinions of someone else, you are essentially giving someone else more control over your life than you need too. Think about why you are considering what someone else thinks before you make your choices. Don’t give your power or your preferences away!
If what you desire is ethical, legal and in alignment with your morals and values, there’s no reason to allow someone else to influence you.
I’m Hazel Palache, success coach, clinical hypnotherapist, stress management counselor, author and entrepreneur. If you have any questions I would love to connect with you. Over my 30 years as a Mindset Expert I’ve helped many hundreds of people to change their lives and businesses so they are living a life they love with less stress and more fun. Everything I write about and teach, I’ve been through and come out the other side myself so, although I have lots of training, I speak from vast personal experience.