It’s true: Other people judge and criticize us each and every day. Mind you, they don’t do it nearly as much as our minds may lead us to believe, or as negatively, but they do it, just like you do it to them.
We make judgements all the time, both negative and positive, and that’s a natural part of life. While some people understand this and see that it has little to no bearing on our ability to be ourselves and do what we like to do, to the majority of us, this is a crippling reality that leaves us feeling frequently and persistently unhappy.
For the vast majority of my life, other people’s opinions of me mattered way more than they should have or I would have liked. My pursuit of acting contributed to this problem big time, since audition after audition not only forced me to face constant criticism, but also regularly reminded me of what about me just wasn’t good enough to get the part.
Thankfully, I’ve since graduated from this state where virtually every outside opinion had the power to influence my mood, decisions, and peace of mind, to one where only a select few have that “honour.”
Yet I’ve recently made a point of working on that as well, in hopes of unlocking a state of being where I literally no longer give a shit what others may or may not think of me or my decisions. Please understand that the goal here is not to completely disrespect the opinions of others — I’ll still happily seek and grow from them as they arise — but to eliminate the unhealthy tendency to let these opinions dictate my life.
Here are some reminders and mental shifts that I’ve found to be particularly helpful in this process so far:
Most Opinions Are Rooted in Jealousy
On the surface it may seem as though criticism is coming from a state of superiority, but in reality it is often rooted in perceived inferiority. Someone else feels threatened by what you are doing, and rather than focusing on how they could do something about it in their own lives, they’ve chosen to expend their energy trying to cut you down.
The truth is, we are never superior or inferior to each other, and the sooner we choose to respect each other’s individual journeys, lives, and passions, the quicker we’ll all be genuinely happy.
Even Your “Failures” Took Courage
We all screw up from time to time, and in the grand scheme of things, can all learn to appreciate each of those mishaps as vital for our maturity and growth. So when you do next “screw up” and receive some criticism as a result, remind yourself of the courage it took to do whatever it is that you messed up on. Choose to focus on that bravery, rather than the unpleasant responses, and you’ll find yourself back on your metaphorical horse of creation quicker than you can imagine.
They’re Just as Concerned as You Are
Only having the ability to be in your own body, it’s easy to believe that the world revolves around you. But there are over 7 billion of us who see it the same way. Keep in mind that as much as someone may have criticized you in the past, they aren’t giving you and your decisions as much attention as you think.
Why? Because they have their own lives and concerns about what others are thinking of them, which, from their perspective, will always be far more important.
Find What You Admire
In my particular case, where only the opinion of a select few still ruffle my feathers, I’ve found it helpful to identify what it is about them that makes me hold them in such esteem. Is it our extensive history? Their courage? Their accomplishments?
Whatever it is, identify it, and then rather than feeling inferior to it, choose to be happy for what they have done, and what they have helped to trigger in your life. It may not feel like it, but each of these people, and the opinions that they hold, all stand as a wonderful opportunity for us to step into our own power.
Embrace the Feeling
It may feel scary at first, but the more you consciously choose to defy the restrictions your mind is trying to place on you through a fear of outside opinion, the more addictive it becomes.
I’m not suggesting we all become rebels, but I am suggesting that we all regain the driver seat of our decision making process.
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