It’s a struggle that many of us have faced throughout our entire lives: caring about what others think. For most of us, it goes back to childhood, that pivotal moment in school — usually elementary school — where someone makes fun of you or says something about your appearance or actions, a moment that likely launched your young psyche into awareness that other people actually have an opinion of you.
Luckily, for most of us, that awareness develops naturally. Most of us have a healthy level of awareness about the importance of presenting ourselves in a way that reflects our true character, health, professionalism, etc. And that’s normal. Psychologists say we are mentally suited to interdependence, and developing issues like social anxiety is simply a normal response to the threat of rejection.
The danger is when that healthy level of self-awareness launches into an unhealthy one, where we start to obsess over how others view us and change our behavior or thought processes accordingly. But here’s the thing: you’ll never fully understand how people view you — it’s just not possible. You can’t get inside people’s minds. You can’t be a fly on the wall when people talk about you. And changing someone’s perception is extremely difficult.
That’s why this really is true: The only person’s opinion that truly matters is your own. And knowing your own opinion of yourself — inside and out — plays a big role in how others see you, and how capable you are of finding happiness and achieving success with your goals.
Below are several ways to find that innate understanding and love yourself for who you are.
Learn about yourself.
Who are you really? What do you enjoy? What makes you happy? What are your weaknesses, and what are your strengths? Self-discovery is one way to improve overall awareness. And if you’re not sure where to even start to figure that out, try journaling. A book called “100 Days of Self Exploration” will take you through guided writing activities that challenge you to explore your innermost desires. You won’t regret taking the journey.
Regulate your emotions.
Yes, this tends to be much easier said than done. But if you can find strategies to calm your anger, stave off tears, savor joy and rest in a peaceful moment, you’re going to be all the better for it. An article in Positive Psychology lays out 21 tangible methods for regulating emotions.
Learn how others perceive you.
While only your opinion matters, knowing what others think of you, even if on a limited basis, can go a long way to helping you adapt, if necessary. If you’re viewed as abrasive, are there strategies you can put in place to quell that a bit? If people view you as a pushover, what can you do to stand up for yourself and set boundaries?
And if you’re not sure how others see you, ask them. Yes, that’s a scary notion, but you may be quite surprised by the result, and at the very least, you’ll obtain some critical information about yourself (or them).
Be open to feedback.
Criticism can be hard to stomach, but it’s not, in fact, a bad thing to hear. People who are open to feedback tend to draw others in, while those who aren’t tend to be left stumbling in the dark, unsure of how they should act or how they can improve. Taking in feedback with an open mind gives you a tool to better yourself — and maybe make a few allies in the process. An article in The Muse provides some useful tips for taking constructive criticism like a champ.
Ultimately, learning how to navigate others’ opinion of you will lead to a better, stronger understanding of why your opinion is truly the only one that matters. That, in turn, will help you achieve goals like weight loss, healthy living, fitness and much, much more.
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.