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  • Writer's picturePenny Muller

I Care What People Think

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

Are you afraid to say that you care what people think about you?

In my previous blog post, I talked about doing our inner work - looking at the tough stuff (the link is below). I reinforced that this journey is a choice, however that if we don't choose to take it we will remain frustrated. We will continually bump up against the same barriers and limitations throughout our lives and not know how to overcome them. We will also be looking at others, wondering why they are not experiencing the same issues that we are, and wondering what is wrong with us or what we did to deserve these life experiences. If we choose to undertake this process, however, we will have the opportunity to experience all the goodies that are waiting for us on the other side.

Because the previous blog post was about extending our comfort zones, this one will be about remembering gentleness. This is the journey. We push ourselves a bit so that we can experience bigger and better things, then we remember how courageous we are for doing this and we provide the self-care that we need to nurture ourselves through the process. I think we need to do this so that the journey continues. If it becomes negative - about pushing ourselves to do all the things that we feel we are not good at - it will become too hard. We don't want to become overwhelmed and give up on this process altogether. So, this post will be about allowing ourselves to care what people think, and to be able to express this without fear of judgement (without fear of what people will think).

Society tells us that we should not care about what other people think, and this is reiterated by friends and family and all those other acquaintances that we rub shoulders with who like to give advice. Well, maybe this is good advice, however we are underestimating our biological programming, which involves the priority of staying safe. Our need for safety is a matter of survival. If our survival is threatened, all else becomes unimportant. And, our safety depends, in part, on our connection with others, our bonding, and our being a member of the tribe. So, actually, it's biologically programmed into us to care what other people think, and prying ourselves away from this tendency requires more effort and intentionality than we might realize.

I'm not saying that it isn't a worthwhile pursuit. I think it's very worthwhile. People typically express a greater happiness and peace when they have learned to live their lives without as much concern for the perspectives of others. But, I'm sure we've all met those people, you know the ones, who swear off caring for all time and find it difficult to balance their behaviour as a result. Those people whose lack of caring seems downright arrogant or rude. Either you find them hilariously funny or you run in the other direction because being in their presence is very abrasive to you. Maybe you don't want to be one of these people, however we might consider that this is part of the process of change. We tend to swing to extremes when trying to find our way and if everything else is in place we will eventually find our balance. I'm not saying that we should swing to extremes, but recognising this tendency in others might help us to have more understanding of these behaviours. We should also understand that sometimes people's lack of caring is due to their internal wounding. It might be about pushing people away because their early experiences have led to a lack of trust of others, rather than being about an authentic desire to be a free spirit.

So, it is natural to care what people think about us, as being liked by others ensures our safety. This is important to be aware of, because if we start sorting through the tough stuff in our lives we will bump up against other people's opinions of the process. We will want to change aspects of our lives, but it will be difficult to be strong in our resolve to do this when we risk not being accepted by our tribe / friends / family. I think it's important to understand that when people are content, fulfilled and fully involved in living their lives, they are much more likely to allow us to freely live ours. So, negative responses to our attempts to change are often about other people's issues. When you attempt change, many emotions can arise for other people - fear that you will fail or be hurt, fear that you will abandon them or that the change will create distance between you, comparison, envy, or awareness of their barriers and limitations that they are not ready to face. In the end, our example is a strong contributor to other people's change, so if we allow their resistance to prevent our growth we are doing both ourselves and other people a disservice.

We need to be very clear on our reasons for choosing to take aspects of our lives to the next level. Otherwise, if we allow others to prevent us from making these choices, we will only resent others and be disappointed with ourselves. We need to learn to trust ourselves more. As I have mentioned previously, we are much more than this collection of bones and their outward coverings. We have the wisdom of many lifetimes under our belts, we have super-intelligent brains at our disposal if we allow them to work in our favour, and we have highly-functioning bodies that are capable of much more than we give them credit for. Yes, we make mistakes - wow do we make mistakes! And, sometimes we regret not asking for help or advice, or taking others' advice. Of course, that's what we have a network / a tribe for. We all have different experiences and we can benefit from the wisdom of others. We should definitely embrace this process. However, we must avoid being swayed by fear, our own or other people's. We should use our super-intelligent brains and our uber-intelligent gut feelings to differentiate between real and perceived danger.

Let's stop feeling like 'bad people' because we care what others think. Let's instead see this as the gift of our connection with and love for others. Let's build a strong reservoir of belief in our ability to set intentions for valuable change in our lives, and let's trust that the path that we feel called towards is the best journey for us.

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