If someone says they are completely indifferent to other people’s opinions, that person either doesn’t know and understand themselves well enough, or they are deceiving themselves. It works, even if we are introverts who prefer playing at Spinia instead of talking even to the closest relatives. So if you care about how other people feel about your actions, that’s perfectly normal.
The desire to please other people is a natural part of everybody. After all, if we are liked, if we are accepted, it’s in some way a guarantee of security and intimacy. Without other people, without society, we will never survive and be who we are. Where Is the Line Between a Normal Desire for Intimacy and a Dependence on the Opinions of Others?
- When you don’t just think about the opinions of others, but those thoughts determine your actions.
- When your life is guided not by your own desires and needs, but by the opinions of others.
- When you do what is “right” from the outside, even if it makes you feel bad.
How This Addiction Comes About
It begins in childhood, when parents have clear ideas about what is good and right for the child, and actively impose them, without paying attention to the desires of the child.
“Don’t be capricious, I know better,” “You have to do it this way because it’s right,” “You don’t understand anything, listen to me,” such parents say. They probably attach great importance to the opinion of others themselves, often worrying about “what the neighbors and relatives will think,” trying to create a picture of an ideal family.
In this case, the child does not develop the skill to listen to himself or herself, to make choices, taking into account his or her own peculiarities.
Growing up, such a person continues to focus on the opinion of other people, because since childhood he is sure that “others know best”, and also learned that if his attempts to act in his own way someone will not like him, he will be punished, rejected or even humiliated. He is convinced that to be loved, he must do what others like.
What to do if this is about you? How do you make sure that the opinion of others does not define your life?
Most importantly, start to get to know yourself. You may have very little contact with your feelings, values, motives. On your own or with a therapist, explore who you really are and what you want. When a person knows himself or herself well, he or she cannot be shaken or overturned by the opinion of others, because he or she is aware of his or her weaknesses but also has a strong reliance on himself or herself and his or her virtues.
The process of getting to know yourself isn’t quick and difficult, but it’s necessary. It’s possible that in the process you will discover in yourself the qualities that you won’t like at first sight, and those that will lead you to admire – this is a normal part of the process.
How to Help Yourself Along the Way
When you once again wonder “what others will think,” imagine someone who is really nice to you, your friend. What would he say? Surely he would support you. Practice, and in time the judgmental voice in your head will change to a supportive friendly voice.
Think of situations where you thought you would be laughed at or judged, but you weren’t. We usually assume a negative version of events, but in reality more often people do not judge us, and sometimes support us, even in the strangest things. And everyone has different ideas about the norm. You may have thought that someone will criticize you, but in fact the other person will not cause any negativity.
What to do if the criticism and dissatisfaction are not imaginary, but quite real, and they come from people close to you?
Remember that no one, even the closest people do not know you as well as you do. You definitely don’t have to do what your loved ones want, but you can talk to them and try to explain what is happening to you and why you are doing it this way. Chances are that you will understand each other, and your loved ones will accept your choice, even if they don’t like it.