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The Jeopardy of Taking Others’ Opinions Seriously

The Jeopardy of Taking Others’ Opinions Seriously

When I was younger, I spent a lot of my life caring what other people thought of me. Honestly, it was just a bunch of stress that I never needed.

It started during my childhood. My parents always had high expectations for me. I always had to be what their idea of a well-behaved girl should be; disciplined and reserved, having perfect grades and daily habits. It was my responsibility to be the perfect role-model for my sister. Everything that she should strive to be.

Even without my parents there, I became very aware of everything I did and said, always careful to do whatever was expected of me. My parent’s strict ethic unconsciously filtered into my everyday life. I started to care greatly about what everyone else thought about me. I was constantly trying to fulfill the image of who everyone else thought I should be, and it started stressing me out.

I didn’t know how to manage to stay true to myself while still making everyone else happy. It wasn’t until I grew older and discovered my true passion that I realized how powerful my own voice could be.

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Shut down the Voice of the Peanut Gallery

People give their opinions all of the time. They just can’t help it. We all want to be heard. But unfortunately, some of these opinions might be directed at you.

Whether they are positive or negative, these opinions are based on their own judgments and biases. Because their opinions are biased and reflect their own self interest; what they have to say isn’t always the best thing for you. After all, if you judge a fish on its ability to fly, it will always have a miserable life.

They don’t know your situation and they don’t have to live your life, so it’s nothing to worry about.

Besides, words hold a different meaning to everyone.

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Language is nuanced, complex, and not at all universal. Everyone has different values placed on different words. What one person may find offensive, could be a compliment to a completely different person. You will never know what anyone’s true motive is behind what they are saying, so it’s better just not to worry about it.

Trying to fill their expectation isn’t worth it, especially if you’re not sure what they want from you.

When You Silence Your Voice, You Break Your Own Heart

If you present yourself as what you think people will like, you’re becoming a shell of yourself. Those who you are so eager to impress will never know what you are truly like or how you really feel. You’re doomed to always keep up appearances or else you risk revealing yourself as a phony.

Your true needs will never be satisfied and you’ll always feel empty. No one will ever like you for you.

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We’re all adults. Everyone is responsible for themselves and their own happiness. At the end of the day, you’re the only one who has to live with yourself. You’re the only one who experiences your emotions, you’re the only one who faces your battles. Most people are just passing through your life, and they truly have no effect on your well being or future. Stop concerning yourself with pleasing them.

The only person’s expectations that you need to meet are your own. All you need to be happy is to live your life on your own terms. If this makes anyone uncomfortable, they can see themselves out.

Making Your Voice Heard

Don’t let anyone dictate how you think or feel. Be confident in your values and make your voice heard. When you value what other people think of you over your own opinions, you’re giving them the power to dictate your level of self esteem . Build up your own self-esteem by focusing on your strengths and being proud of them. Here’s an article about building leveling up self esteem: How to Build Confidence From Scratch

When you let other’s opinions overpower your own, you are letting them bury your potential. Everyone is born differently and you’re allowed to think differently than others regardless of how much you might respect them. The differences that you possess is what gives you the potential that others don’t have. If you try to ditch your differences to impress others, you’re denying your true self.

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Let’s say you’ve just started a new job and you don’t really know anyone. You’ve noticed that all of your coworkers are very into Electric Dance Music, which you can’t actually stand, but you pretend to like it so that you can go out with them. Maybe you made some new friends, but they don’t know you for who you truly are. You’re making yourself miserable by listening to terrible music, and suppressing your true nature.

I made my voice heard by creating a blog to write about my ideas. I try to focus on gathering more perspectives to expand my horizons. I let others’ ideas influence me, but they don’t control my train of thought. My voice is still my own.

Create Growth Opportunities Out of Any Voice

Have a clear understanding of what people think of you and what you think of yourself. Take the time to consider other people’s opinions to see if they hold any water, but don’t weigh them with too much importance.

If those thoughts are possibly beneficial to your growth, they definitely deserve some consideration. Some opinions are given with good intentions to help you grow; but if those opinions are clearly based off of pure emotion and bias, just forget it. You don’t need that kind of unprecedented negativity in your life.

My parents always gave it to me straight. They wanted me to be a good role model for my younger sister and for her to follow all of my “good” behaviors. They always had good intentions and I respect their direction, but in the end I have to live my own life. Instead of doing everything that they expect of me, I choose to embrace what I value to live a happy and fulfilling life.

And that’s good enough for me.

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How to Break Free From Negative Thinking for Good

How to Break Free From Negative Thinking for Good

Negative thinking can make us feel as though we are never truly good enough to change our lives. Whether we believe that we are not good looking enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, or something in between, we are always right.

We often tell ourselves the following:

“I’m not good enough to accomplish this.”

“They won’t like me. I’m too ugly to be around them.”

“I won’t ever be able to get out of this situation.”

How we see ourselves dictates how we lead our lives. This simple truth, while it is currently impacting your reality in a negative way, is actually good news. Why?

You can change your thinking, and when you can change your thoughts, you can change your reality.

Put simply, if you start to believe and feel like you are good-looking, intelligent, wealthy, or other things, you begin to see yourself in that light. If you tell yourself that you are capable of achieving greatness, you will eventually get there!

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That said, many find themselves wondering what to do when they get stuck in negative thinking. Are you tired of letting negative thinking run your life? Do you want to take control of how you feel and put yourself out there?

If you want to start writing your own narrative, let’s learn more about negative thought cycles and how you can change your own internal voice.

Where Do Negative Thoughts Come From?

You aren’t going to wake up one day and find that you are suffering from random negative thoughts. Negative thoughts are often a mix of ideas that we develop on our own, as well as ideas that we may have gotten from others.

For example, if you are constantly watching media where individuals are depicted as having thin bodies and perfect skin (and you do not have the same characteristics as those who are traditionally considered to be beautiful), you may come to the conclusion that you are not beautiful or deserving of love.

This is far from the truth, but your own take on how the world works can play into how you feel about yourself.

Equally harmful, the opinions of others can start to affect our self-perception. If several people tell you something negative about yourself, you may begin to take these opinions to heart, telling yourself the same things over time. This self-belief then becomes the model for how you live.

More often than not, the reality is that individuals who lack confidence and self-esteem are going to develop negative thought patterns.

This does not mean that confident people do not face internal crises of their own. After all, everyone is prone to experiencing a negative thought here and there. However, those who are self-aware and confident are able to bounce back from these thoughts and return to their truth.

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Those who do not think highly of themselves, on the other hand, are going to keep believing the negative thoughts that come into their mind. The issue? These negative thoughts turn into a repetitive cycle that becomes harder to break over time.

When you tell yourself something for months or years at a time, it can be difficult to transform that internal dialogue into something more positive and realistic. But is it possible? Absolutely!

The Importance of Quitting Negative Thinking

Beyond low-self esteem, there may be mental health-related causes behind your negative thought patterns, like depression. One of the major symptoms of depression is, you guessed it, negative thoughts. Depression can make us feel unworthy of love and life, even if we have everything we could wish for[1].

You may be struggling with anxiety disorders instead, which can paint uncertain visions of the future and leave you anticipating the worst long before the moment has arrived. Some people have anxiety about the present or will return to past moments where they felt as though they failed, which affects their feelings about who they are or who they will be[2].

Having mental health issues can make your situation more complex, but it is important to know that these types of health issues are highly treatable, especially with the assistance of a mental health professional. You are deserving of self-love, and getting help is the first, most important step of your journey!

How to Break the Cycle of Negative Thinking

In order to overcome your negative thought process, you are going to need two things: self-awareness and a willingness to love yourself. Once you are armed with these two tools, take a look below to learn more about how you can break free of the cycle of negative thinking.

1. Become Aware of the Thoughts That Are Affecting You

Negative thoughts are hard to catch because they have a tendency to become a part of who we are. These thoughts build our belief system and go unchallenged, even when they pop up daily.

All change begins with awareness. Whatever it is that you believe about yourself, take the time to pay attention to your own dialogue.

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What are you saying to yourself on a regular basis? How does it make you feel? Is any of it true?

 

When these thoughts are brought to your attention, you begin to notice just how often you are saying these things to yourself. Once you’ve cultivated awareness around these thoughts, you can begin to develop the change that you want.

2. Learn to Accept Them as They Come (and Move on)

A lot of people believe that you have to completely remove negative thinking patterns from your life in order to be happy. Not only is this not possible, but it’s also not true. You are going to experience negative thoughts regardless. It’s what you decide to do with these thoughts that matters.

Next time a negative thought comes into your mind, treat it like a passing car. Acknowledge it and let it pass you by. Don’t try to wave the driver over to you or continue thinking about once it has passed. Just let it go.

Giving power to your thoughts allows them to have control over you. You can’t stop a negative thought from entering your mind, but you always have the power to let it go!

3. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Our own beliefs play on a loop, telling us certain things over and over again. While it’s important to let go, it is also important to get to the root of these issues and figure out where they are coming from.

Let’s imagine that you are telling yourself you are stupid throughout the day. If you notice this pattern, ask yourself: Does this have any basis in reality? Am I really stupid or am I telling myself this unnecessarily? Is there any evidence to support this[3]?

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Challenge negative thinking by asking questions.

    Challenging your negative thoughts will help you realize that they are highly-exaggerated and untrue. This gives you the opportunity to transform these negative thoughts into positive ones that resonate with you.

    4. Replace These Thoughts with Kinder, More Realistic Alternatives

    Anything that is broken must be replaced. The broken record playing on a loop within you can easily be changed to a tune that you can actually sing to.

    Whenever a negative thought comes up, take the time to stop yourself and think of something positive to put in its place. If you find yourself saying, “I can’t do this,” try telling yourself that you are more than capable instead.

    Keep in mind, however, that you need to tell yourself things that you truly believe. If you start telling yourself things that don’t resonate with you and encounter a situation that proves your belief wrong, you may do more harm than good!

    Bottom Line

    Changing the way you think is a rigorous but rewarding process that will change your outlook on life. If you find yourself struggling with negative thinking, learn more about where they come from and how you can stop them for good with the guide above!

    More on How to Stop Negative Thinking

    Featured photo credit: Max Ilienerwise via unsplash.com

    Reference

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