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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 editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

People who have low self esteem are always hard on themselves. Sometimes they even cannot truly accept compliments because they would second guess people’s intentions.

    In this article, we’ll look into the symptoms of a low esteem person and what you can do if you find yourself having self-esteem issues.

    Symptoms of a Low Self-Esteem Person

    Common Symptoms

    • Unable to trust your own opinion
    • Always overthinking
    • Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
    • Hard on yourself but lenient with others
    • Frequent anxiety and emotional turmoil

    Lesser-Known Symptoms

    Being a workaholic

    At work expectations are set clearly. Even if there’s pressure in the workplace, compared to relationships or the social world where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, work is more straightforward.

    It’s easier to meet the expectations and perform well at work. Therefore, some people with low self-esteem would shift their focus to work and put all their energies there.

    Overachieving or underachieving

    Many of us have already heard that people with low self-esteem tend to be under-achievers as they’re too afraid to take new challenges and not confident enough to fully utilize their talents.

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    However, there’s another extreme. Some of them are too anxious of failure and being rejected, so they will try their very best to be outstanding to prove their worth.

    Causes of Low Self-Esteem

    Most of the time it stems from our childhood. Here’re some negative early experiences that lead to low self-esteem:[1]

    • Frequent punishment
    • Frequent neglect
    • Chronic abuse
    • Harsh parental standards
    • Being bullied/boycotted
    • Being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair
    • Lack of praise, warmth and affection
    • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards

    Childhood is when we form our “Bottom Line” and “Rules for Living” which affects the way we think, that’s why all the negative early experiences can have a very long-lasting effect on our adulthood.

    How “Bottom Line” Affects Your Self-Esteem

    “Bottom Line” is how you usually feel about something, based on your early experience. For example, “how you felt when you first left home becomes the emotional bottom line for when you leave other things in your life.”, according to therapist Robert Taibbi [2].

    When we talk about self-esteem, the bottom line is about how people around you treat you, as we grow up taking the voices of people who are significant to us. Did they say you’re adorable, or you’re always not good enough? Did they neglect you that made you feel worthless?

    That largely affects the way you view yourself and hence affect your self-esteem.

    How “Bottom Line” Determines Your “Rules for Living

    Based on the “Bottom Line”, we would form our “Rules for Living”, which are the strategies for dealing with life. For example, if you have the belief that you are always inferior to others, your Rules for Living would be “better not to speak up and to keep a low profile”.

    How Low Self-Esteem Affects Every Aspect of Your Life

    So what are the consequences of having low self-esteem?

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    It Makes You Confuse Love with Low Self-Esteem

    Having a low self-esteem, you expect people to treat you badly.

    When people are being just quite nice to you, you feel overjoyed and have unrealistically good feelings for them. This can be easily mistaken as love and also scare people away who might be just interested in being friends with you (at first).

    It Makes You Have a Lower Hand in the Relationship

    As you think your partner is too good for you, you bear things that you shouldn’t stand for.

    Sometimes you even confuse love with self-esteem. Are you giving in really because you love him/her so much or you just dare not to speak up and bargain?

    It Makes Your Employers Feel That You’re Not Talented

    People with low esteem sometimes are actually gifted. But they don’t know how to show it and “sell” themselves.

    During meeting, they keep quiet, during presentation they speak weakly, during daily conversation they say “sorry” and “maybe” too often…As a result, employers and other colleagues perceive people with low esteem as people without much talents.

    It Can Lead to Depression

    Over time, low self-esteem can lead to depression according to a study done by University of Basel researchers.[3] Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen added that low self-esteem is “a key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.

    How to Improve Self-Esteem

    As we can see, low self-esteem is a deeply rooted issue and leads to lots of consequences. To solve it, it’s not an easy task, but it’s possible. The key is, to use the right ways.

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    1. Ignore All Those “Positivity” Advice

    Very often, we hear people say “Stay positive”, “Hey cheer up!”. People with depression know all these do not help. It just makes them feel worse.

    Same for low self-esteem, simply telling people “To me you’re wonderful!”, “You’re actually awesome”, “Why don’t you appreciate yourself more?”, or even worse “Hey you should be more confident” does not improve their self-esteem. Instead, they would feel inadequate or even guilty of their behavior.

    2. Focus Elsewhere

    “Healthy self esteem needs to emerge subtly.”[4]

    Same as happiness, you don’t immediately feel happier when you tell yourself to be happier. You need some concrete ways to do so like pursuing a goal that truly matters to you, like spending quality time with your loved ones.

    When you want to improve your self-esteem, don’t try too hard on thinking of ways to do so. There’s no direct way to improve it. It should be a by-product of our overall life’s satisfaction.

    According to psychologist Abraham Maslow,[5] to live a fulfilling life, you should take care the 5 levels of human basic needs. To help you understand more about this psychological model we made a video to explain it:

    Or you can refer to the graph below:

    5 Levels of Human Basic Needs

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      To focus elsewhere, we’ve summarized the above items and put them into this list for you:

      • Deep connection with loved ones
      • A healthy body
      • Sense of control
      • A meaningful life purpose
      • Recognition and respect from others
      • Sense of security
      • Creativity

      As you gradually equip yourself with the skills to fulfil the above needs, you’ll forget about self-esteem and suddenly you’ll find that you just feel proud of yourself when you know so much that others don’t.

      Resources to Help Increase Your Self Esteem

      To help you gradually build your self-esteem, here’s a list of the best self-help books that can help you fulfil the goals:

      1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
      2. Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
      3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
      4. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
      5. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
      6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines
      7. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
      8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
      9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
      10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

      The Bottom Line

      If you find yourself having low self-esteem, don’t be hopeless. Have faith in yourself that you can regain self-esteem and become a confident and successful person.

      How?

      Understand the root causes of your low self-esteem and overcome these causes with the advice in this article.

      Featured photo credit: Joe Gardner via unsplash.com

      Reference

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