I’ve had some interesting discussions with my love of late, as we’ve recognised a difference of opinion – something that doesn’t happen very often. It seems that Steve is still really conscious of other people’s opinions, and this includes complete strangers. When I was younger, I used to care a lot about what people thought of me. People who were in my life at that time might say “what you? No way” – because I was definitely out there in many ways (fashion-sense, “stunning” hair-styles, opinions, etc..) But I did, I was really impacted by what people thought about me.
Then one day, probably in my early 20s, I decided enough was enough, and slowly weaned myself away from caring about what others thought of me. I recognised that absolutely no one knew where I was coming from or understood why I believed what I believed, so decided it was time to focus on what I thought of myself as the most important thing. It was a very liberating process to go through and one I think continues to serve me well. It gives me more confidence I suppose – confidence to live the life I want in the way I know is right for me and my family. I also don’t feel the need to justify that to anyone, nor do I feel the need to judge others for the way they choose to live – because how can I know?
When I think about it, there are very few people whose opinions matter to me – Steve and my boys will always matter, very close friends or clients who are in my life on a regular basis definitely matter, and probably the people around my boys – such as their teachers. They all matter because they impact my life every day, and therefore, I care what they think. I don’t change who I am because of them, but I am aware of their role in my life.
For everyone else, including family and friends, who are not living my life with me every day, I can’t take on their stuff. How can I integrate their opinions of my life into me, when in almost all cases, they have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, or even why I make the decisions I make? Families are a special group in this equation, with most taking great delight in expressing opinions about our lives. However, if you live miles apart – physically or psychologically – why structure any aspect of your life taking their opinions into account? Especially if they tend towards the negative? Respect for family is a good thing, but only if it goes both ways. And then complete strangers? I absolutely DO NOT care what they think, because they are strangers and have no impact on my life! If they become friends who I care about, because all of my friends are people I value on many levels, then it changes and I care.
I’ve asked a few other people in recent weeks whether or not they care about the opinions of others, and apparently, the majority are impacted by what others think. So I thought I’d ask my community – do you care or have you torn yourself away from living your life based on the opinions of others?
All I know (and believe very deeply for myself) is this: the only thing that matters is how you value yourself, and if you can do that, well that’s awesome and the path to happiness. It’s something I want to teach the boys, but obviously to succeed; I need Steve on board too.
I’m wondering if anyone agrees with me or can share their experience of breaking away from the burden of others opinions? Or perhaps you still find yourself caring too much? Let me know?
Yours, without the bollocks