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Do You Care What Others Think?

I have a very good friend who has a unique gift and for anyone who is on the outside looking in, they would feel he is a nitpicker and a know-it-all. Why don’t I see him this way? I’ll share more on that in a bit.

Normally, this would be a tough one to answer because of the narrative that has been preached over and over. Some say that we care about what others think because it’s natural and beneficial to value others’ opinions, as it reflects our innate desire for connection. Our concern for how others perceive us stems from our wish for closeness and a sense of belonging, extending even to unfamiliar individuals.

Image credit:Anemone123 from Pixabay

So, if we care about what others think because we wish to feel connected, are we giving away our power to them because we might attempt to conform to standards laid out by them which are based on their opinions? How does that make you feel?

Do you believe that caring about what others think of you is good for your mental health? I think it’s detrimental to one’s mental well-being.

There are plenty of short-term strategies laid out to help one get out of the hole of “caring what others think” but these strategies work only in the short term, they don’t prevent you from falling into that hole again.

Short-term strategy #1: Mental exercises to minimize the size of the opinion of another when compared to how big the universe is. The goal of this strategy is to shift one’s perspective and remind us that in the grand scheme, our problems and others’ opinions hold little significance.

Short-term strategy #2: Reminding yourself that there is a reason for everything and perhaps a person’s expressing an opinion that hurts you is a way for you to identify if they are a real friend or someone who needs to be let go of.

Short-term strategy #3: When confronted with excessive rudeness or judgment, whether directly or behind your back, it’s vital to recognize that such behavior speaks volumes about the person exhibiting it, rather than reflecting on you.

These are great strategies to help you out in the short term AFTER you’ve fallen prey to caring what others think. In fact, I think these strategies fall under, “Have you fallen into the hole of caring what others think? Here’s how to climb your way out.”

So, how do we actually stop caring what others think? 

There is a long-term strategy and most people won’t go for it because it takes time to develop and master. This strategy is building confidence in your Uniqueness. When we have high self-esteem we don’t really care what (low self-esteem) people think of us, we recognise whose opinions to value. 

That is why I don’t see my friend as a nitpicker. His gift is being able to see what I don’t and then teach me how to make things (such as any presentations I create) better. It is important to take it from whom it is coming. The key question to ask is – is this person sharing this information for their benefit or for my benefit (to help me grow and become better at what I do)? 

Essential to having high self-esteem is the ability to think contrastively – is it possible that I could be wrong? Am I willing to accept this and mend my ways? Sadly, there aren’t many people who are willing to think this way.

If the answer is to build confidence in our uniqueness, what is this Uniqueness thing? 

I believe we all have intrinsic motivators that give us energy regardless of context. We do this without effort! It comes very naturally to us AND we gain energy through this activity without the risk of burning out. This is our “authentic self” – the very essence of us regardless of our circumstances, it is the core of our existence.

The first step is discovering your Uniqueness is by taking this quiz:

The next step is understanding it, followed by embracing it and finally communicating it to others. Take note, the embracing step might take a while – I’ve met people who seem to understand their uniqueness but are hesitant to embrace it because they claim it is too rigid. 

What if I told you that your uniqueness is the ONLY thing you have to be good at allowing you the freedom to let go of the pressure of having to be good at everything – would you consider this rigid?

Understanding your uniqueness involves knowing what activities help you gain energy. For me, it is helping others experience compassion by filling the needs of others. For years, I was told that I am very good at motivating people so I embarked on a 2 year quest to motivate women from across the globe to become healthy through fitness and good nutrition. Guess what? I burnt out after that because encouraging others to move forward isn’t my uniqueness. It didn’t give me energy. We are not talking about your strengths. We are talking about your uniqueness.

Embracing your uniqueness requires letting go of everything you were told or conditioned to believe about yourself. For me, my mother told me that I was too emotional and it was my weakness so I had to toughen up. I tried this for many years and I battled the blues because I created a contradiction: I was fighting against who I really AM. I had to let go of the premise that having compassion is too emotional and a sign of weakness. I had to embrace that this is my superpower.

Teenagers often struggle because they attempt to portray a persona that isn’t their true selves. Consider the positive impact on their mental well-being if they could comprehend and embrace their uniqueness.

Once you have embraced your uniqueness, the final step is to communicate it to others. Why do you think it is essential to communicate our uniqueness to others? 

There are words that will trigger us and words that will settle us and if we don’t communicate this to others, how they treat us is entirely our fault. If you can change your context to one that energizes you, not only will you be happier, but people will get the benefit of the best version of yourself. That said, if, after knowing this information, people still continue to speak against your uniqueness, then they are abusing you.

We’ve established our uniqueness, now, how do we build confidence in this? By creating our ideal context. This is a Personal Vision Statement consisting of three parts. Imagine walking into a room, what are three things you DON’T want to be responsible for? Instead, what would it look like if you walked into this room and you received these three things from everyone present? These three things facilitate stepping into your uniqueness effortlessly. Here are some examples of these three things: inspiration, openness, humility, vibes, acceptance, lack of criticism, honesty, boldness, challenge, engagement, comic relief, commitment, community, goals, a desire to grow, reliability, and accountability.

So, the first part of the Personal Vision Statement will be: I want to live each day surrounded by people and circumstances that bring me insert the three things.

The second part is what you wish to be able to do (for the benefit of others) when you have these three things that allow you to step into your uniqueness. This ought to be something you want to do so much, that you would buy someone a cup of coffee if they allowed you to help them in this area. Examples of this: help people love themselves for who they really are, create an environment for growth, overcome stumbling blocks, help people be the best version of themselves, help people become their authentic selves, give people tools to grow their happiness etc. This would be worded as “so that I can help insert what you wish to be able to do for the benefit of others.

The third part of the Personal Vision Statement is a limitation – you get to do all of this through the tools of your unique self aka your uniqueness which you will determine by taking said quiz mentioned earlier in this article. Examples are: Perceiving, Teaching, Compassion, Giving, Serving, Administrating and Exhorting. This would be written as, “I will do this by insert your Intangible Drivers/Uniqueness” here. Notice, the beginning of the PVS contained three things you didn’t want to be responsible for, now you are stating three things you want to be responsible for.

I am a Compassion-Server and my current PVS which I have tweaked four times in the last year is: “I want to live each day surrounded by people and circumstances that bring me inspiration, openness and humility so that I can help people accept and embrace themselves for who they really ARE. I will do this by Grace, Compassion, and BS slaying.” I chose the word “Grace” instead of service because there is no higher service than following divine influence on my heart.

It doesn’t end here. The next step is to test your PVS on a daily basis. Carry it with you and test how your day goes based on your PVS – do you meet most of what you have stated, consistently, on a daily basis over a few weeks? Then you have a good PVS. If this isn’t the case, then revisit your PVS and tweak it. I have had to tweak mine four times in one year and I know that, as I continue to grow, I will be tweaking it further.

The uniqueness stated by the quiz is a big-picture answer. If it was like stating the city and country you lived in, then the PVS would be your street address. Once you fill out your PVS, it will instantly raise your self-esteem because you will know your uniqueness. Once you interact with others who know their PVS it will make you more confident of your uniqueness because when you hear someone else’s uniqueness, you realize you would NEVER see that as how you get energy.

When a person pursues growing in their PVS, their self-esteem grows to the

point they realize what others think about them says more about others than it says about themselves because they are confident in who they are. You don’t ever have to worry about falling in a hole because you are ascending your unique mountain!

I could show you how your PVS predicts which jobs, friends, and spouses would give you the most energy, but that will have to wait for another time.

For now, let me leave you with this: would you rather pursue short-term solutions that don’t prevent you from falling into the hole of being affected by the words of others or would you pursue a long-term strategy that takes time to implement but ensures that you don’t fall into the hole dug by the words of others, while leading to high self-esteem and personal fulfillment?

Originally published on Bizcatalyst 360:

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