Stop Caring What Other People Think
By Steve Siebold
Have you ever heard the saying, “The only person getting in your way is you?” It’s especially true for people who are constantly worrying about what others are thinking about them. They’re consumed with self-doubt and constant worry what a family member, friend or even a total stranger is thinking – and most of the time it’s all in their head and the other person isn’t thinking these things at all.
Psychologists call it approval addiction, or being addicted to the approval of others. It’s one of the most debilitating addictions because it interferes with absolutely everything we do. For the woman trying to move up in her career, she is afraid to speak out in disagreement at a company meeting fearing what her colleagues will think. She could have the next million dollar idea that would land her the corner office and a company car, but yet she sits there in silence.
Approval addiction interferes with personal relationships, too. In the early stages of dating, rather than speaking what’s really on your mind, you hold back and go with the flow letting the other person determine the direction of the relationship. Once you’ve had enough, it makes breaking up harder to do and usually comes as a shock to the other person who thought things were going great all along.
Maybe you want to change your hairdo, buy that new sports car or change your wardrobe. It all sounds great in your mind but you never go through with it because you’re too concerned about what other people will think. The typical thoughts that go through the mind of someone suffering from approval addiction:
- What if they don’t like me?
- What if they disagree with me?
- What if they think my idea is stupid?
- What if they don’t like my hair?
- What if I wear nice clothes and drive a nice car and everyone thinks I’m greedy and self-centered?
The good news: overcoming approval addiction is easier than you realize, and once you do, you’re free of the psychological chains that bind you from ever experiencing world-class success, happiness and most importantly the freedom to live life on your own terms.
The first pattern of this negative thinking is what we call “what if” thinking. Instead of what if, rephrase the thoughts to “so what if?” So what if they don’t like me? So what if they disagree with me? So what if they think my idea is stupid? So what if they don’t like my hair? And so on. While this might seem a bit awkward at first, remember that breaking a bad habit that’s been engrained into your memory probably since childhood is going to take some getting used to. The more you work on it the more natural it will become and the more believable it will sound.
The late Bill Gove, the father of the professional speaking industry, summed it up best. He said, “I am responsible to my employees, customers, and business associates; to be honest, sincere and to act with integrity…but I am not responsible for their attitudes or behavior towards me. I hope they like me. It’s more pleasant that way, but if not, it’s not my problem.”
You probably have some idea how much approval addiction impacts you, but here’s a simple way to test it. On a scale of one to seven, with seven being the highest, how high is your need to be approved and validated by other people? Next, ask your best friend to rate you on the same scale, and then compare answers. Answer as honestly as possible and not on how you’d like to be, but how you really are.
If you scored a high number, it’s important to realize how serious this is. It’s conformity at all costs and is most likely severely impacting everything from your career to your personal life. No one knows how much time he or she has left, so isn’t it time you start living your life how you want to live it, instead of living it for other people? It’s time to grow up emotionally and develop the mental toughness to overcome approval addiction once and for all.
Steve Siebold is author of the international bestselling book 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class; a mental toughness coach to Fortune 500 companies, professional athletes, entrepreneurs and other super achievers. Visit www.mentaltoughnesssecrets.com and www.mentaltoughnessblog.com.
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