Let’s talk about other people’s opinions.
Whether we want to admit it or not, our fear of what other people think is something that holds many of us back.
It keeps us from going after our dreams.
It prevents us from doing what we want to do in the world.
And it has us questioning whether we can show up authentically in our lives.
This week on the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, we’re kicking off a two-part series that takes a deep dive into other people’s opinions.
In part one, we explore why it’s natural to worry about what other people think.
We dig deep into the leading reasons we care so deeply about other people’s opinions.
And you’ll get your action steps for the week to discover where these instances show up in your life.
Part two takes what you find throughout the week and helps you decide how you want to show up going forward.
You’ll identify what you intentionally want to think about other people’s opinions in your daily life.
You’ll discover how to live a life that feels true to you.
And you’ll learn how to celebrate your ideas, beliefs, and contributions that you bring to the table without fear of other people’s judgments holding you back.
So if you’re ready to uncover a life that’s authentically you, check out part one now.
You can listen to the episode below, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
Listen To The Podcast Here!
In This Episode, You Will Discover…
- Why it’s natural to worry about what other people think
- Three general categories of “other people’s opinions” we fear
- Why we care so deeply about other people’s opinions in the first place
- How to identify where this shows up in your life
Links From The Podcast
- Sign up for your free consultation with me here
- Join the I’m Busy Being Awesome Facebook group here
- Sign up for the Make Your Ideas a Reality Training here
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Episode 69: Other People’s Opinions Part 1 (Transcript)
Hey, friends! Welcome to another episode of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast. How are ya? What’s happening?
Today we are diving into a pretty big topic, which is all about other people’s opinions. Now here’s the deal – so many of us struggle with worrying about other people’s opinions. We often find ourselves thinking about what this person or that person will think of us.
We question whether or not we’ll be judged for doing this thing or that thing. Perhaps we worry whether or not we’ll offend someone, etc. Right? Does this sound familiar? So many of us have other people’s opinions on our radar at some level.
Now on top of our everyday awareness of other people’s opinions, we also have the holidays coming up combined with the fact that most of us are still impacted by COVID as well. And perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve noticed an even higher level of awareness from many of my clients and also hearing from you listeners in terms of worrying about what others will think.
We worry about what people will think if we do or don’t decide to travel for the holiday. We question how people will feel if we decide to stay home or invite people over, or not host the annual Christmas party. In fact, I’ve heard from so many of you that I decided to do a deep dive into the subject over the next two episodes to help us clean up our thinking about other people’s opinions so that we can feel good about how we’re showing up each day.
How to Make Your Ideas Reality Training
Now, before we dive into the material, I want to let you know that, I am teaching a free training on Tuesday, November 24st at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. It’s a training that I taught last month called how to make your ideas a reality, and I’ve heard from several people who weren’t able to attend the training for whatever reason last time and are hoping I’d teach it again.
So I thought, heck yeah! Let’s do it. We had so much fun the first time around, and I heard amazing feedback from people, so if you missed it the first time around, make sure you add your name to this list this time.
So in this training, I’m going to teach you some tools and strategies that you can use immediately after the training to start taking action and making your ideas real.
You will learn how to organize all of your amazing ideas and decide what to work on first. You’ll learn how to create a plan so you don’t slip into overwhelm and you can get started without confusion. I’m going to teach some of the most sneaky pitfalls that keep us from moving forward on our big goals and how to avoid them. And finally, you’ll learn how to overcome any obstacle that gets in your way as you work toward making that idea reality.
Seriously, it’s going to be so fun.
So get your name on the list. I’ll send out all the details and the Zoom information to those of you who are interested. Just head to imbusybeingawesome.com/training, and I’ll send all the information your way.
Now, I know that I have listeners from all over the world, which can make the whole time zone thing a bit of a challenge.I am offering it earlier in the day this time around so that hopefully some of you people in Europe won’t have to stay up so late. But also, I will send out a limited-time replay for those of you who did sign up but couldn’t make it to the live training.
But, I encourage you to attend the training live, if possible. Because I have an awesome bonus workbook that’s going to take this work even deeper. So go add your name to the list: imbusybeingawesome.com/training.
Worrying About Other People‘s Opinions
Alright, so let’s start diving into other people’s opinions. Now, as I said, while my inspiration for this episode is navigating other people’s opinions during the holidays, I am going to use a lot of different examples today because – again – worrying about what other people think is definitely not a seasonal practice. Our brains like to freak out all year round.
In fact, in the last few weeks, I’ve had someone tell me she feels like she has to go to her in-laws for Christmas because everyone else in the family is going and she doesn’t want everyone to think she’s the “stick in the mud” for staying home.
I had someone tell me she has no choice but to host Thanksgiving as she has for the past 5 years – even though she was scheduled to work an overnight shift from Wednesday to Thursday – because she doesn’t want people to think she’s being difficult.
And on a bigger picture, I was working with a client on their thoughts about other people’s opinions generally, and they realized how this area shapes the majority of how they make their decisions. Meaning, they often feel like they should choose the thing that will get the biggest approval or will please most people rather than thinking about what’s best for them.
And knowing you listeners, I have a sneaking suspicion you can relate to at least some version of these scenarios. Your situation may not be related to the holidays, but you’ve probably found yourself having similar thought processes about what other people think. I know I have.
Why do Other People’s Opinions Matter to Us?
We find ourselves worrying about what other people might think of us. We worry that they’re judging our looks or our skills or the way we parent our children. We’re worried that we might say the wrong thing and someone will think we’re stupid. Or we’re worried that we might do something to upset another person.
And because we’re so focused on what other people might think of us, we often change how we show up in our lives. We start people-pleasing. We don’t share our true thoughts. And we hide behind this facade of what we think other people want to see.
And if you’ve ever been in a situation like this before, then you don’t need me to tell you that it feels terrible. We feel judged. We feel misunderstood. Perhaps we deal with imposter syndrome. Maybe we feel shame. Or maybe it’s a lovely combination of them all.
And since I’ve heard from several listeners over the past few weeks, and since I know I’ve certainly been in situations like this, I wanted to do a deep dive into navigating other people’s opinions. Because as I found in myself when I started exploring this work, and as I see in my clients as well, this focus on other people’s opinions is one of the things that’s holding us back from truly living our lives.
Two Part Series
And because this is such an important topic, I’ve decided to divide it up into two episodes. So this week we will explore why we worry about other people’s opinions in the first place, the leading areas this shows up in our lives, and then with that awareness, I want you to go through the week ahead taking note of your own situation. Where do you find yourself worrying about other people’s opinions?
And next week we will explore how to move forward and stop focusing so much on what others think. We’re going to talk about tactical examples of how this concept works in practice so you can use it in your life. AND we will talk about the invaluable information you can learn about yourself and the beliefs you have about yourself when you’re willing to dig deep and ask yourself the tough questions.
I’m telling you, this work is life-changing if you’re willing to do it. And since you’ve stuck with me this long, I’m going to assume you’re in. So let’s get started, shall we?
It’s Totally Normal
Now I first want to make it really clear that if you can relate to any of the examples I give in these two episodes. If you find yourself worrying about what other people think about you. And you find yourself concerned about whether you’ve made someone feel annoyed or frustrated with you. Please hear me when I say nothing has gone wrong.
What it means is that you’re a human with a human brain. So congratulations, you’re right on track.
Why Do We Worry About Other People’s Opinions
You see, fear of other people’s opinions is one that’s been ingrained in our minds for thousands of years.
I mean, if you think back to thousands and thousands of years ago when we were still living in caves and struggling to survive the elements, we HAD to be focused on other people’s opinions. In fact, thousands of years ago, other people’s opinions could mean life or death. If you were rejected from the group, and you were left alone to fend for yourself, you could die.
So, of course, we have this deep-seated fear of rejection as well as a deep-seated need to feel accepted and welcomed and liked by other people. It has been so ingrained in our belief systems that we do whatever we can to avoid that negative judgment, whether real or imagined.
And even today in the 21st century, when we no longer have to worry that someone’s bad opinion of us means banishment and death, it still feels that way. It still feels terrible. Because our brain has been wired that way for so long.
It Does Take Some Work
So keeping that in mind, there is a lot of brain retraining that needs to go on here.
And that actually brings me to my first point. We are going to explore this topic over two episodes, and we are going to talk all about strategies to help you start working through this fear of other people’s opinions and how you can start letting that go. And we are also going to talk about how you can start turning to your own personal opinions, thoughts, beliefs and owning them with confidence.
However, this is challenging work. It is going to take your practice. It is going to take a lot of repetition.
Because as I just mentioned, this is such an ingrained fear in our brains. It’s not something you can simply shake loose overnight. And this is especially true for my ADHDers who also have the stories that they have to work twice as hard as others so that people don’t think they’re too slow or not smart enough to keep up. Or they try to go above and beyond because they’re so worried that people will think they can’t get their act together or they’ll be “found out.” And again these are stories we ALL tell ourselves. But my ADHDers out there, I see you. And know that this is especially important work for us.
Because I’m telling you, if you’re willing to do the work, it is so worth it. Because not only will you be able to confidently share and own your own opinions, thoughts, and beliefs. But you will also learn so much about yourself and who you are on the journey.
3 Categories of Other People’s Opinions
Now, here’s the deal. We all have individual concerns and fears about what other people will think of us. But what I’ve found is they tend to fall into three general categories. So let’s talk quickly about what they are.
General Fear of Other’s Opinions
So first of all, you may have this broader fear of what “other people” think generally. And when I say “other people” in this instance, I’m talking about a larger focus on the broader, general public.
You might hear yourself asking what will they think? But at the same time, you might not even know who “they” are. It feels very vague.
Or maybe you hear yourself asking what will the people at the store think if I show up dressed this way? What will the person at the airport think if I don’t have my act together?
One that I still find myself battling far more often than I’d like is ”what will the neighbors think if my yard doesn’t look nice.” It seems so silly when I pause and think about it. But if I’m honest with myself, it is absolutely on my radar. I’m asking myself, what will they think if my grass gets too long, or I haven’t raked up all the leaves, or whatever.
And honestly… the answer is probably nothing. They probably won’t think anything whatsoever because they’re too focused on what’s going on with them than notice what my yard looks like, but it’s still something I find myself thinking.
Again, it is the broader fear of this general “they” without anyone in particular in mind.
Acquaintances’ or Colleagues’ Opinions
Alternatively, maybe you have a fear of what your acquaintances or colleagues might think of you. Maybe you’re worried about what your colleagues will think if you do or don’t get that promotion that you went after.
Maybe you are worried about what the other women in your gym class will think if you can’t do something that the instructor taught in class.
Or maybe you are worried that those girls from high school are judging how you’re living your life today. And even though you haven’t seen them in years and you don’t communicate at all, you are Facebook friends. You’re convinced that they saw pictures in their feed and must be thinking all of these things and judging you and your life.
Maybe a new position opened up in your current company, but it’s in a different branch. So it’s a little new and a little different, but you’re really interested in it. However, because it’s new, and it’s stepping out of your current role, you worry about what your boss might think or what your colleagues might think. Maybe you’re worried about what people with think if you apply and don’t get the job.
Whatever your particular situation is, this one is slightly more specific. You know who “they” are. But at the same time, these people aren’t super close to you.
Loved Ones’ Opinions
And then finally, we get quite specific, and we worry about what our friends and family might think. Maybe we worry about what our friends will think of us if we do this thing or that thing. Maybe we worry about what our family or our parents or our partners will think of us if we say this thing or offer this opinion.
Perhaps we worry about what our parents will think of our career choice or the new person we’re dating. Maybe we worry about what our friends will think of us if we decide not to go to the New Year’s party. Maybe we are afraid of what our partner will think of us if we decide to start training for a marathon or starting a side hustle.
And this category can feel especially strong because these are often the people who we really care about or we respect their opinions. They’re often the people who know us the best. And so many of us put extra focus on what the people we know well and love think.
3 Reasons We Care About Other People’s Opinions
So chances are, you probably fall into one or more of these three categories in some area of your life. And it’s also possible that your situation changes during different periods of your life. Maybe sometimes you find yourself worried a lot about what specific people will think, and maybe other times you’re worried about the broader “they” of the general public.
Wherever you fall, keep these situations in mind. Because now we’re going to talk about why we care about what other people think. Because chances are, most of us know objectively that worrying about what other people think is not helpful. Am I right?
For example, if we’re talking with a friend who’s worried about what their colleague thinks of them, we would tell them, “Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter what they think. You’re AMAZING. This is clearly about them. You do you.” But for some reason, that same advice has a hard time getting through to our own mind. Because when it’s our own fear of other people’s opinions, that’s when it feels especially real.
So why is this? Why is it that we are so focused on what other people think of us? Well, there are lots of reasons. And I’m going to talk about three leading categories today because I think that many of our individual examples will fit within these three areas.
Fear of Other People’s Judgment
So number one, is that we don’t want other people to judge us or see us in a negative light. Because we often make that mean that we’re not good enough.
In other words, we worry about what other people think of us because we make it mean that we are less than. We’re worried that people will look at our behavior, they’ll look at how we show up, they’ll look at the results in our lives, or they’ll look at our lives generally, and they’ll judge us for not being enough.
And as I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast, this touches that deep-seated fear of getting kicked out of the group. And as humans, we don’t like feeling that we don’t belong.
Now this fear of judgment that we’re not enough can come up in so many different ways.
Maybe it shows itself when we think about having people over to our house – especially in non-COVID times. Maybe you have a friend call you up and say, “Hey! I’m in the neighborhood. Can I swing by with coffee?” And while you would love to see her, you tell her no. And you do because you’re afraid she will judge you since your house isn’t clean.
Maybe you have a new idea that you want to present at work, but you don’t speak up at the meeting. Why? Because you’re afraid the idea will be judged as weak or a waste of time.
Maybe you have a side hustle or a small business and you want to start sharing about it on social media. You want to start showing up more regularly online by posting photos of yourself and doing live videos, but you are worried that people will judge you. You worry that they’ll judge your appearance, or the message you want to share, or how you’re presenting yourself, or that what you’re offering isn’t useful, all of the above.
So that’s one of the overarching categories is this fear of being judged that we’re not enough.
Fear of Being Different
The second category concerning why we worry about other people’s opinions is almost a variation of the first. But rather than this fear of being judged for not being enough, it’s instead a fear of people thinking we’re weird or different, or we just don’t fit in. Again, there is a lot of overlap between these two categories, but I think as humans, we think about them a little bit differently.
In situations like this, we often hold ourselves back. We stop ourselves from pursuing a big dream or an impossible goal because people will think we’re crazy.
So maybe you have a new screenplay idea that you’re super excited about. However, you’ve never come across anything like it before. So you’re not sure how it will be received or if people would even be interested. So rather than giving it a shot, you set the idea aside. Because you don’t want people to think you’re weird or different or don’t play by the rules.
Maybe you’re doing some new research in your field, and it goes against what most people are doing right now. It doesn’t go with what’s trendy or popular. So rather than rocking the boat with your new ideas, you decide to stick to what everyone else is doing.
Fear of Hurting People’s Feelings
And then the third overarching category regarding what other people think is this: We worry that we might upset other people. We worry that if we are honest about a certain situation that we might hurt someone’s feelings. Or we worry that if we show up in a certain way, somebody might feel offended because of it. We worry about telling a friend or a colleague “no”, because we don’t want to disappoint somebody.
And I know without a doubt that every single one of you listening has thought a version of this at some point. I have to say yes because I don’t want to make them upset. Or I have to volunteer my time because people are counting on me and they’ll be disappointed if I don’t. I have to host Thanksgiving this year even though I don’t want to because I do it every year and people will think I’m just being difficult if I don’t do it this year, too.
I’m telling you, this worry about other people’s opinions and what other people think is everywhere.
And again, nothing has gone wrong when you notice it showing up in your life. All it means is that you have a working human brain, don’t worry. The first step is bringing awareness to it, recognizing where we feel it most often in our lives, so we can then decide what we want to do about it.
Your Homework This Week
So this is your homework this week.
First of all, start questioning the different areas in your life where you notice yourself focusing on what other people think. Is it the broad “other” of the general public? The people at the grocery store? Or my example is people who drive by my house and see my yard. Is it acquaintances or colleagues? Are you worried about what your boss thinks of you or the other people in the same Facebook group as you? Are you focused on your immediate family or your close friends? Where are you most focused on what other people think?
And then secondly, what is the deeper cause of that concern? Are you worried about what other people think because you’re afraid they’re judging who you are or what you’re doing? Maybe you’re concerned that they’re judging your role as a manager, your parenting, how tidy you keep your house. Are you concerned about people thinking you’re just totally weird and “out there” for going after a big goal or trying something that’s quote-unquote “out of character” for you? Or are you worried about upsetting other people? Are you worried that you’ll make people feel bad? Or you’ll make someone feel annoyed or upset?
Now, of course, we can’t actually make anybody feel anything. What they feel comes from their thoughts. And we will talk about this much more in-depth next episode.
But for this week, I really encourage you to start noticing where you feel that fear of other people’s opinions. And then perhaps even more importantly, challenge yourself to answer WHY.
Start Asking Why
Why does it matter what they think? Why are you concerned about what they think of your yard or how your dress or whether you’re going after a “pie in the sky” dream, or you’re doing something entirely new?
And don’t just say, I know I shouldn’t matter what others think, so whatever. I’ll just let it go. You can’t let it go until you actually figure out what’s bothering you about it. Because right now, it does matter to you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be feeling the way you do and spinning out over it.
So once you notice where others’ opinions are especially at the forefront of your mind, ask yourself why. What am I making it mean about me that they don’t believe in my dream? By simply finding the answers to these powerful questions, you will already relieve some of the pressure you feel. By simply bringing awareness to this constant chatter in your brain, you will start questioning whether you want to keep caring about what they think or not.
And then next week, we are going to take a deeper dive into what we want to do about it. How we want to continue showing up. And how we can live our lives in a way that feels true to us without the constant fear of judgment or rejection from others, and from the fear of disappointing others based on what we choose to do.
I’m telling you, if you’re willing to do the work with both of these episodes, you are going to create a much more joyful holiday season specifically, but also a much more authentic and positive experience overall because you’re living the life you want to lead without the fear of other people’s opinions holding you back.