Have you ever made a decision to do something you didn’t really want to do, based on what others thought?
Or, maybe you made the final decision based on what you wanted but you had to work through everyone else’s opinions and a whole lot of over-analysing and self-doubt to get there?
I’ve done both.
When this happens, we usually experience one or more of the following:
- Regret over not doing what we really wanted
- Resentment toward others for denying us the outcome we would have preferred
- Second guessing the decision and constantly replaying it in our minds
- Wondering “what if…?”
- Being unable to shake that original desire
- Stress and dissatisfaction.
Making decisions based on what others’ think limits us. It keeps us from doing or saying what we really want. We are taken down paths we don’t really want to go down. It puts us in a position where we have to keep pushing down the regret or deep desire that we ignored. It keeps us from living in a way that is true to ourselves.
those opinions didn’t matter.
you made your decisions based on what YOU wanted.
you could be true to yourself.
How do you think it would feel?
As I’ve gotten older and with some practice, I’ve been able to make more and more decisions without worrying what others think. These days, I’d even say I’m pretty good at it!
I find it freeing. When I make decisions in this way, I feel more confident, calm and happy.
If you’re in the habit of putting too much weight on the opinions of others, but would love to be true to your own wants and needs, know that you CAN.
It’s helpful to first understand why you place so much importance on what everyone else thinks.
Why do we care so much about what other people think?
1. Do they like me?
Often, the reason the opinions of others matter so much is that we want people to like us.
It’s natural to want to be liked. In fact, it’s human nature and linked to our need to be connected and loved.
But not everyone will like you. It’s just impossible. (I’m pretty sure that you don’t like everyone either!)
The great thing is, if you’re true to yourself, you’ll actually attract people who like you as you are, regardless of your decisions.
2. Do they think I’m good enough?
We might also be seeking approval and validation from others.
If you don’t love yourself, you’re so much more likely to really care about what others think about you. The approval of others helps you to feel worthy and good enough.
Unfortunately, external validation will never be enough and lasting happiness and self-worth is not found this way.
The only person who can make you happy is…. YOU. Self-worth comes from within.
What matters most is what you think of yourself and whether you approve of yourself.
You are important and your needs and wants are important.
3. Will they judge me?
In motherhood, judgement comes at us from all angles. Sometimes we’re overly concerned with what others think because we’re scared of being judged.
Judgement will happen, but maybe not as much as you think, and maybe not from the people you think.
Most people aren’t paying as close attention as we think they are. Even if they do react negatively to a decision we make, it will soon be forgotten and replaced by their reaction to something someone else has done.
How much time do you spend judging and analysing the decisions and actions of the people around you?
Probably not that much! Especially when you’re busy raising your children! The same goes for the people around you.
Research shows that caring too much about what others think of your parenting, undermines your confidence and increases stress. Ironically, this can cause the quality of your parenting to suffering. You’ll be overthinking things, second-guessing yourself and worrying a lot. It’s much more helpful to be focused on your own standards and expectations.
4. Are they happy?
Sometimes we worry too much about what others think because we want people to be happy.
You may want to respect everyone’s opinions and be as inclusive as possible. You might start imagining and worrying that people will be upset with your decision before you’ve even made it.
The reality is that when you make a decision in order to please someone else, it might make them feel good for a moment, but it’s not the key to their happiness. It’s your life, not theirs.
Is it worth your time and energy doing something that really isn’t that important to someone else, if you don’t even want it yourself?
Make the decision for YOU
Making a decision for you doesn’t make you a selfish person.
I know you don’t disregard the needs and opinions of others when they’re important.
There are absolutely times when we need to seek and consider the advice of people we trust. There are times when we’re inspired by the actions and choices of others. But there are many times that women give so much weight to the opinions of others, when those opinions are not important.
The opinions of others are not important when those people:
- Are not affected by your decision
- Don’t fully understand all the relevant factors involved in making the decision
- Don’t have your best interests at heart (may have the wrong motivations such as jealousy, putting you down, self-gain), or
- Are not trusted by you.
Since you can’t stop people from sharing their opinions, you can listen, thank them for sharing their thoughts and then put those opinions aside, to make your own decision. Just because someone tells you what they think or expresses disapproval, doesn’t mean you have to act on it.
The more you focus on what others’ think, the more those opinions expand and the more important they seem. We need to stop focusing on the opinions of others, and turn the focus to what we really want and need. You know yourself best and you know what’s really right for you.
It might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but with practice, you’ll find that over time you’ll experience less self-doubt, fear, second-guessing, overthinking and questioning. It’ll also get easier to trust and prioritise your own thinking and intuition.
So, lovely mum, what would you do if it didn’t matter what anyone else thought?
- Breastfeed a bit longer?
- Rock your baby to sleep every time?
- Go back to work?
- Stay at home with your kids?
- Start that new career?
- Show someone that poem you wrote?
- Go to that boxing class?
- Wear that bikini?
- Have a glass of wine?
- Take time for yourself?
- Get takeaway for dinner?
- Buy yourself that bag?
- Let the kids watch a movie?
- Voice your opinion?
- Keep your son’s birthday party simple?
- Say no to something you can’t manage or don’t want to do?
- Pursue your dreams?
- Start that new hobby?
- Have your friends over without cleaning the house first?
- Let people see the real you?
Whatever it is:
1. Write that thing down and say it out loud
2. Ask yourself these questions:
a) If you did that, what do you think or feel that would mean about you?
b) What’s the worst that could happen?
c) What you are worried that people will think or say about you?
d) How would it feel to make the choice to do what you want despite what others think?
3. Make a commitment: Write down when and how you will do it.
I’d love to know what you’re going to do. Leave me a comment to tell me.