Updated: Feb 17
The Sticky Floor of Worrying about What Others Think of you.
Do you get STUCK because you are worried about what others think?
One of my favorite quotes (probably of all time) is “What others think of you is none of your business.” By Regina Brett - a famous author & speaker.
I love it, but I don’t necessarily live it.
I struggle with the sticky floor of worrying about what others will think of me.
I’m sure you have heard in some of my other episodes, how I sat on this idea of a podcast for months!
I knew I would love it - I knew I could do it - but I was so worried about the opinions of others. And it kept me from action.
I worried that people I worked with would think I cared less about my role as a Chief People Officer if I was podcasting.
I worried that my friends would think it was weird.
I worried that those in my network would wonder why the heck I was doing this at all!
When I gave up drinking, I worried that others would think less of me. I worried that they would assume I was pregnant, or I had a problem. (which by the way - neither is any of their business!) I worried that people would think I wasn’t fun.
And the question I have for myself - is WHY.
Why do I care about EITHER of those things?
I care because I value the opinion of others.
I care because I run with a group of people that are amazing, thoughtful, and driven. I respect their opinions. I respect their ideas. I also care, because I’m human, and I have this innate desire to fit in and be close to others.
That all makes sense - but it didn’t make ENOUGH sense to me. Because I also know, that my circle- the circle that I truly care about - will always respect me, and push me. (And if they aren’t - I am in the WRONG circle.)
So I started digging.
First- we care about what others think because when we get approval from others, it gives us a higher sense of self-esteem. Deep down, we are convinced that how others view us, matters to our self-worth, and that affects how we view ourselves.
And I think that caring about what others think, can be a good thing. It can push us to be better people, and to make healthier decisions - it can push us to work harder for our dreams.
But what happens, when that WORRY about what others think, becomes problematic?
What happens when you are worrying so much about what someone is going to think of you that you lose #sleep? That your #anxiety spikes? What happens when we care how someone perceives us interferes with our own ##intuition?
That’s when it's sticky. That is when it has the potential to hold us back and prevent us from being the best version of ourselves.
I personally have known women who have shied away from going after a dream - because they were worried about the thoughts of others. They stayed small when they should have been playing BIG.
And there will be people out there who doubt. There will be people out there who judge. But you know what- those people shouldn’t be YOUR people.
YOU ARE NOT A BUFFET- YOU ARE NOT HERE TO SERVE EVERYONE.
What you also need to take into account is that you can’t read people's minds. So really - you don’t know what people think. That person who you are so concerned about might have the same dream or goal that you do. They may be inspired by you. You have no idea!
I also want you to understand that many of us are hard-wired with a negativity bias. Negativity bias causes our emotional response to negative events to feel amplified compared to similar positive ones. Now I believe that negativity bias hardwires us to think negative thoughts. For example, how many times have you thought “ I bet they all have something negative to say about my presentation or my work.” Instead of - “Dang I know they are gonna love this!”
Yeah? Me too.
So let's play a game.
It's the put-a-finger-down game. I want you to put a finger down if you have ever felt this way before.
Put a finger down if you ever didn’t wear something you loved, because you thought someone might think it would look funny.
Put a finger down if you ever DIDN’T do something you wanted to do, because you worried someone might not approve.
Put a finger down if you ever changed your mind about a choice you voiced at work, because the rest of the team chose a different option.
Put a finger down if you ever didn’t tell someone about something you did, because you worried about their reaction.
And last- put a finger down if ever did something you didn’t really want to do because the group was doing it.
Where does that leave you? Me? Leaves me with 0 fingers up - full transparency.
But - that doesn’t mean that I can’t work on this sticky floor of worrying about what others think. In fact, I know it's a sticky floor of the mine. So here is what I do!
I have an accountability person. When I find myself feeling worried about something, I talk with them. I confide my worries - and they check me. They literally talk me through it. The best-case scenarios, and the worst. Then it's my choice to decide what I do with that.
I ask myself what is the courageous thing to do. That is what I did when launching this podcast. One of my core values is courage - and when I get that feeling that I am STUCK - I ask myself - am I being courageous?
I #journal. Sometimes writing it out helps. There is something about putting pen to paper, where I can dispel all my fears, worries, and concerns, that helps me think clearly. If journaling isn't your thing, #medidate
Go back to the reason you are doing something.
If this is about your happiness - your growth - your health - your family - WHO CARES what someone else is going to think.
And you know what? Because I am doing what is right for me, and what makes me #happy - I AM HAPPY. The result is happiness! Its fulfillment. Its growth. Its connection.
So my moral of the story is - if you even put down one finger during the game earlier- why? Why did you put it down?
I don’t believe this is a sticky floor I’ll ever get totally out of - but I do believe I can be better at it. I can stop letting my fear of what others think, hold me back. I can have that honest and sometimes hard and scary discussion with myself - and do the thing I worry about in spite of being scared. And I’m finding that every time I do - I’m getting a little bit better about it. I’m worrying less and I’m living more.