How many times have you thought about making a change–any change–and found yourself thinking you couldn’t possibly make it happen? It is too difficult or you don’t have the right training. You have no willpower or the first idea of where to start. It’s not uncommon. Most of those thoughts are considered negative self-talk, something we do to keep ourselves rooted safely where we are.
But sometimes, those thoughts are a reflection. A reflection of things we have heard, or thought we heard, others say about us at one time or another. Because we are social animals, we care about what other people say about us. When we are young, it helps to define who we are and how we see the world. As we age, we continue to give weight to the opinions, or judgements, of others. In fact, many times those judgements become our own, and not just a reflection of what someone else may or may not be thinking.
We become so concerned with what others may be thinking about us, it leaves us utterly unable to effect any change. We begin to believe the negative messages that others send out as truth when, in fact that message is simply something constructed to protect the sender. Many times, that is what an opinion is — a judgement meant shore up another’s self-esteem.
It is so easy to believe these opinions. To challenge them would cause a confrontation, and most of us will do anything to avoid an uncomfortable situation. It becomes easier to accept these imagined shortcomings as reality. And in doing so, we set ourselves up for failure by adopting these opinions as our own.
If you find yourself questioning your own behavior or goals because of what someone else may think of you, here are a few steps to help you break free and move forward.
Become judgement neutral. Not only with others, but with yourself as well. This is one of the most difficult things to accomplish because passing judgement is just a part of human nature. Oddly, it is easier to judge than to simply observe. Yet being observant of a situation or an opinion can be one of the most powerful tools for change. When you can review a comment or action without attaching an emotion, you are being non-judgemental. It creates a basis for a more positive and open viewpoint–one that encourages change instead of thwarting it.
Once you are functioning in a non-judgemental mode and encounter negative energy or comments, try to understand what might be causing that opinion. It might be easier to judge the person, rightly or wrongly, but the truth of the matter is that we don’t know what is causing such negative energy. Again, it is easier to judge the person and move on, but doing so only opens us up to the harmful effects of that opinion. Trying to understand why someone might have such an opinion can help you from accepting that opinion as fact.
Finally, don’t expend energy trying to change someone’s opinion. Doing so will only give it more power, and will keep you stuck where you are. Allow the person to have that opinion and accept is the way the person feels. It really has nothing to do with you–it is more a reflection of themselves and how they perceive their own shortcomings. Don’t judge the person or give them power because of the opinion. Simply accept that it exists for them, and move on with your own plan.
Understanding people only have power over our actions if we let them is a very difficult lesson. We want to be liked and we crave approval–as I mentioned earlier, it is human nature. However, sometimes we become too dependent on that approval. We allow someone else’s belief to become our reality. Doing so, however, can leave us frustrated and powerless. By recognizing someone’s opinion as simply that–an opinion–we can nurture our own positive ideas and move forward to create the life we know is possible.