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10 Reasons Why What Others Think Of You Is Not Important

10 Reasons Why What Others Think Of You Is Not Important

In an evermore connecting society where personal value is wrongly correlated with social status, it becomes easy to get swept away in the opinions of others. Who likes who, who wronged who, who is doing what and so on are all regular topics in our daily interactions. Let’s not forget, gossip evolved as an evolutionary device – a successful one at that.

Yet despite this, those with their eye on living an honest and fulfilling life should avoid any temptations of this social Whodunnit. It’s true. Caring about what others think of you is an arrow to the knee of your happiness. Here are 10 reasons why.

1. Nobody Knows You Like Yourself.

People can be arrogant in the fact that they tend to judge a persons character within second of meeting them. We all generalise, we form assumptions, we create an opinion of people from the first moments of the first interaction, often inaccurate ones. The truth is, despite the lightening-quick opinions people form, nobody knows you like you do. You know your own strengths, your own weaknesses, your likes and dislikes more than anybody else in the world. Yes, people can be quick to judge. Are their perceptions of you at all accurate? It’s unlikely. Don’t concern yourself with them.

“The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself” – Thales

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2. Nobody Likes to Feel Bad About Themselves.

We all like to feel confident and that we lack nothing major in our lives. Since it is often difficult for people to directly face their personal issues head on and get over them, people like to bring others down as a means of feeling more secure about themselves. People who readily form negative opinions are often casting their own insecurities onto others as a means of overshadowing their own. It is admittedly easier, but that doesn’t make it right. It’s often nothing to do with you in the first place.

3. You’ll Be Forever Walking On Egg Shells.

Do you wan’t to live a life of anxiety? A life where the views of others sting you like a wasp every time you hear a negative or insulting remark about yourself? I bet you don’t. If you do, you’ll quickly become a people-pleaser. You’ll be that Mr. Niceguy who gets trampled all over by everyone in fear of offending anyone. Mr. Niceguy on the outside, is Mr. Sadguy on the inside. You’re better than that.

4. They Will Take You Everywhere But Up.

Successful people don’t care deeply about what others think of them. Why? Because there are some terrible people out there, and in order to achieve something great you’ll have to make some of them angry. If on your path to success you find that absolutely everybody is agreeing with you, then you’re probably doing it wrong. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So why not Do.

5. You Simply Don’t Have Time.

Success means becoming the strongest, most well-rounded version of yourself possible. In order to achieve success, you’ll have to build upon your strengths and minimise your weaknesses. How can you expect to do that if you’re too busy wasting your time contemplating the views of others? If you want to be successful, you don’t have those precious seconds to throw away. Focus on developing yourself, not developing others’ thoughts.

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“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. Confidence Isn’t Rooted In the Thoughts of Others.

How many times have you heard a confident person say that they get their confidence from the negative opinions of others? Not many, I bet. It’s usually the contrary. Confidence comes from realising the pettiness and inaccuracy of other people’s negative view of you and then ignoring them. Confident people know exactly what they lack and they get comfortable with it. They don’t need others to do it for them.

7. Only Those Who Aren’t Going Anywhere Criticise Others.

In Andrew Carnegie’s world-renowned book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, he mentions the importance of not criticising others if you want to be successful. Before he was president, Abraham Lincoln criticised a man in a local newspaper and it almost landed him in a sword fight. He learned never to condemn people ever again. And then he became president. So… yeah.

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity” – Dale Carnegie.

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8. If You Do, You’ll Become Them.

If you concern yourself with the negative views of others for long enough you will end up believing them. It’s a sad truth. You will turn into the very person you are trying to avoid because you don’t have the will to ignore opinions. This is bad. Don’t be fooled into a false version of yourself, remember that nobody knows you like you do.

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

9. You’ll Adopt Their Habit.

Since we are the average of our peer group, the thoughts of others begin to dominate our minds. You could end up adopting their negative habits yourself if you’re not careful. Specifically, you will begin to automatically ridicule and form negative opinions of others in an effort to overshadow your own. Can you see the cycle here? It’s the echo chamber effect in full swing.

10. You’ll Regret It On Your Deathbed.

Not that I want to take a gloomy turn in this article, but it might just be necessary to drive my points home. In Bronnie Ware’s touching book “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”, Ware recalls her years in palliative care and her interactions with the dying. She noted their top 5 regrets. Can you guess which was top? Yes, it was listening too much to the opinions of others.

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“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” – Top regret of the dying.

Featured photo credit: PixaBay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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