Stop Worrying About What Other People Will Think
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~ Steve Jobs
In my last post (Should You Follow Your Head or Your Heart), I talked about my friend who was falling in love with a guy she only met three months ago. Things were getting serious pretty quickly, and she felt she was walking a tight rope between following her heart (which was telling her to jump in with both feet and surrender to her emotions) and her head (which was telling her that she hasn’t known him long enough to be feeling this way).
I think my friend knew that following her heart, while not leaving her head behind, was the right answer for her situation. I think she intuitively knew that this was the right decision for her. She should move forward. She knew it was right.
But … what followed was, in my opinion, the real crux of the issue. She asked me, “But what will people think?” My response, “Who cares!?”
She was very worried about what other people might say about how quickly she was moving with this guy. Well-intentioned friends might make assumptions. People who use their head more than their heart might impose a superficial timeline of how long you should date someone before taking it to the next level. Envious friends might not be as supportive or might try to steal her joy. My friend was being cautious about introducing her “boyfriend” to others for fear of the judgments they might make about her. Ridiculous? Yes! But, also more common than we like to believe.
Why do we let what other people might think impact the decisions we make? Why should my friend care what the general masses think? Why should she be worried about what people might be saying behind her back?
I saw this recently with another friend as well. She is dating a guy and is starting to become more interested in him, but she doesn’t like how he dresses. He bought some new shoes, most likely in an attempt to please her as she is pretty fashion conscious, but “he wore them with the wrong pants.” She was really bothered by this. “So what?!,” I asked, “If he’s this great guy who is really kind, and sincere, and treats you well, who cares if he wore the wrong pants with his new shoes?” “Well,” she replied, “What will my friends think?” Again, who cares!?
I think Steve Jobs nailed it in the quote above: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
Why do we worry more about what other people will think about us, or the relationships we are in? Why don’t we focus more on what we think about our relationships and how we are being treated? We need to listen to our inner voice more and follow our intuition. We shouldn’t be doing things like entering into relationships for the approval of others. We should be doing things like entering into relationships for our own approval (and love, and joy, and all that good stuff).
What about the flip side? Are you the friend who judges and tries to impose your beliefs and ideals on someone else, or do you support them in following their heart (as long as they are bringing their head along with them)? Do you try to impose your opinion so loudly that you are successful in drowning out their inner voice?
I had to deal with some of this same stuff when I started dating my boyfriend (now husband) several years ago. Some people thought we were moving too quickly. Others thought it was “too good to be true” and cautioned me about pending disaster. Even I had some consternation about telling people how serious our relationship was becoming for fear of what they might think and say.
But, my heart knew it was right. My intuition told me to go for it. My head found nothing to reject. I had to tell certain friends that I appreciated their concern because I knew it came from a place of love, but then I also had to ask them to stop trying to “steal my joy!” That worked!
What about you? Do you worry more about what other people will think, or do you follow your own intuition? Are you a friend who is supportive or who steals others’ joy?
Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Amazon.com. Learn more at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com.
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