“If you don’t run your own life, somebody else will”
This is a fantastic quote of John Atkinson and sums up the consequences of living in fear of criticism from others. It is a very common fear that I meet and prevents many an individual from attaining freedom in their life.
The basis of this fear stems from our perception of the opinions of others. Firstly, we have to understand what an opinion is. The definition of an opinion is “a belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof”. In other words, an opinion is not based on fact. Opinions change all the time. Yet we give credence to other people’s opinions time and time again.
An opinion differs greatly from a belief. Whilst most people’s opinions change as often as they change their underwear, belief is entirely different. There are two types of belief: the belief in ourselves as worthwhile human beings and the belief in our ability to achieve success.
We are conditioned to believe in the opinions of others, both positive and negative. Ultimately, by relying on the opinions of others for our own self-worth, whether positive or negative, we allow others to define who we are instead of nurturing our own belief in ourselves and our abilities.
The reality is that most people don’t really think through their opinions. They have their own mucky thoughts, fear conditioning and reality of life. Some people don’t have their own opinions at all; they check out what others think first before they act and speak. Their insecurities and fear of being disliked mean that they live their lives trying to please someone else and ultimately lose themselves in the process.
We are conditioned to pigeonhole people where we make a judgement to have an opinion. Have you noticed that most people want to know what you do for a living when they first meet you? There is a constant need to package you into their belief system. Yet aren’t we all more than a job? Personally, I try not to ask and evade it if asked of me. I get in there first and ask a random question. It makes any interaction more meaningful and I get to know what the person is about before making any assumption based on a job title that I probably won’t understand and would lead me to make an instant judgement which would often be false.
The only reality involved when it comes to the opinions of others is when we live our lives fearful of what others think; we indirectly let others live our life for us. By focusing more on our belief in ourselves and abilities and by disregarding what others think, we take control of our lives and are free to live how we choose without fear of criticism. We have the courage to live by our convictions and no longer feel like we have to explain our every move or apologise for our actions. It is liberating! No one else can live your life for you or learn your lessons.
You can truly start to love yourself for who you are and openly be who you want to be, a unique, authentic and genuine individual. You will also find that other people will take notice as belief in yourself is always stronger than an opinion of another. Not only will you gain self-respect but the respect of others.
You should also remember that no one can make you feel unhappy without you giving your permission. By focusing and strengthening your own beliefs and conviction, the opinions of others will no longer matter. You can live your life for you and no one else!
(c) Samantha Wilson 2016. All Rights Reserved.