Imagine a work friend has invited you to a party at a bar, you know one other work colleague going, but most of the guests will be family and friends that you’ve never met.
Do you feel excited and looking forward to the opportunity to chat to some new people? Perhaps you feel nervous about what to wear, what you will say to these strangers and what they will think of you?
Caring about what others think about you is an issue for most people, and it is because you are hard wired to copy behaviours from birth. As you grow up you learn that it’s okay to have different behaviours and emotions from other people. However some people continue to seek approval and validation from others.
The problem with this is that if your self-worth is based on other people’s opinions it will get knocked regularly, no matter how hard you try to impress people. Their opinions will be based on different factors, many of which you have no control over. As well as this if you are focused on avoiding disapproval and criticism, you may avoid making decisions and miss out on opportunities as a result.
So to take back control of your self-esteem and confidence you need to be able to accept yourself and provide your own positive feedback. Here are some tips that my clients have found helpful, that you can start using today:
1. Become aware of when you are seeking approval. Start to notice when you are considering others opinion (or your assumption of their opinion) and it is getting in your way. Try to identify the triggers for these thoughts and how you behave as a result.
2. Build self-acceptance. Keep a daily or weekly record in which you write things that you’ve done and are proud of, choices you’ve made, things you like about yourself and anything else that feels good to you
3. Self-check your decisions. Rather than asking for validation on any ideas or decisions you have, test if they feel right to you and be proud of your choice
4. Evaluate before committing. When you take on a new task make sure you are doing it for your benefit not to get approval or avoid disapproval
5. Feel okay with not knowing what other people think. Their thoughts may have more to do with their past experiences or bias anyway and you can never be sure they are being completely honest. So it is easier to relax and accept that you simply may never know
If all this seems too overwhelming for you then just remember this quote from Ethel Barrett
“We would worry far less about what others think of us if we realised how seldom they do”