Our society’s paradigm of the “ideal human” seems deeply rooted in our ability to inflate our brittle egos. We are clowns at our birthday party, handing out animal balloons of pseudo-nonchalance and pseudo-resilience. We are Goliaths exuding indifference each time we interact with another human being, a living and breathing epitome of invulnerability. That’s what we agreed upon, isn’t it? To appear impenetrable and unbothered is to play by the established social norm rules. Nobody wants a trepid acquaintance whose indecision impedes their life’s journey. Cowards, incompetent nobodies. The truth? We all fall victim to others’ opinions. Their judgmental stares. Their intolerance. All we really want is to be accepted and our beliefs, opinions, and thoughts approved. “Put a stamp on my dreams, will you, kind interlocutor?” The more we yearn for acceptance, the more we will suffer. Don’t let the fears of what others think stand in your way.
To pinpoint the culprit, we must go back in time. Ancient back. Reptilian brain back. Tribal mentality back. The reptilian part of the human brain (also called “primal”) is still very much present. Conducted under the baton of the cerebellum and the brainstem, it controls our instinctual thinking and survival mechanisms. Back in the day, a person’s survival solely depended on their day-to-day performance within a tribe. Come back from your hunting spree without food twice, and you’re out. Surviving on your own was not an option. The fear of our social unit’s disapproval or “disownment” is woven into our mental wiring. Today, rejection and ridicule threaten our social status; that’s where all the conformity comes from and the reason behind the quarter-life crisis.
Are they thinking what you’re thinking they’re thinking?
If we want to break free from the self-imposed shackles of projection and insecurities, it’s time to face some questions. Is their tone of voice judging the idea of departing our mouths? Are their eyes scanning our physique with disgust? Or is it our self-consciousness indulging in perpetual projection? Unless we’re a certified clairvoyant, the chances are – the passer-by subject inducing fear and self-loathing into our whole being is not even cognizing our existence, let alone its hypothetical flaws. Imagination is a powerful tool; it can take us anywhere from grasping the concept of a “light-year” measuring unit to the self-inflicted abyss of eternal rejection. Parents play a significant role in defining self-worth; that’s why support is crucial.
By accepting and ruminating on others’ opinions, no matter how benevolent-looking and how seemingly small, we are, in fact, willingly giving up on our autonomous selves. The moment we become compliant and submissive, our life stops belonging to us; it now, rightfully, belongs to them; the ventriloquists, the puppet masters. How is this healthy? If we live our lives according to someone else’s desires, beliefs, and thoughts, the only place we’ll be heading is Regret City. Express train. No stops. Many young people find moving out of home a terrifying experience. Why? Maybe they fear failing at becoming autonomous; maybe they let their fears of what others think of their choices sink in and impede their decision-making. The lessons you learn after moving out will help you realize your potential and just how strong and independent you really are.
The warning signs
Of course, we care about other people’s opinions; after all, human beings are hardwired for connection and healthy exchange. So when does the act of caring become potentially detrimental to our self-worth and mental health? Let’s take a look at some indicators:
- suffering from perfectionism
- relying on others’ approval in order to feel good about self
- bad at saying “NO”
- setting boundaries is a daunting task
- allowing others to make decisions on your behalf
- the need to apologize is ever-present, even if you did nothing wrong
- conforming to opinions and behaviors of others or displaying unopinionated behavior
- quick to respond to criticism (taking action to right the alleged wrong)
We can’t control if and what others think of us. – and we shouldn’t. The fastest (and healthiest) route to taking back control over your life is admitting you have none. – And accepting it. Preferably with a smile. To be born, alone is perplexing beyond human comprehension; with transgenerational, inherent burden looming over our weary existence, our natal charts predicting our destined trajectory, Mercury retrograde, climate change, global, yet muffled, hysteria, should we really let our fear of a stranger’s impression dominate the matrix? We have bigger fish to fry, universe. Instead, let’s try practicing mindfulness. Moving experts from Michael Brooks Moving report witnessing an interesting increase in yoga equipment boxes on their clients’ lists. Acknowledging and accepting our emotions helps with self-esteem-related anxiety. Try breathing techniques, meditation, and of course – yoga. Your emotions belong solely to you. Embrace them.
The reward for the worst critic goes to
You. Congrats! Confetti. Fireworks! Tears of joy. We are our worst enemy. The sooner we accept it, the sooner it will change. So, how do we silence the inner critic? By surrounding ourselves with supportive, accepting individuals who will nurture us back to self-love. Life is, indeed, too short for entertaining toxic, harming relationships. Staying clear of the ones who purposely and generously adorn us with negative feedback will make our fears dissipate into thin air. Finally, therapy is off the taboo table. Adopting healthy coping mechanisms (cognitive behavioral therapy) will alleviate the negative self-image talk. It’s time to hug our dark parts.
As the great FDR once said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. To conquer our fears of what others think of us, we must be bold enough to ask ourselves difficult questions. Self-reflection is the pathway to self. – And nothing and no one will ever stand in your way. Except for your own shadow. If you want to learn more about how to maximize your potential, visit Findmino.com, the free go-to source for career exploration of the web.