Throughout my teens and twenties, I let other people’s opinions dictate much of my life. I was constantly worried that people wouldn’t like me, and I compared my success to others. Caring deeply about what others thought of me led me to a dark, destructive place. As I matured, I realized that I spent far too much energy caring about opinions that really didn’t matter. Over time, with practice and much self-reflection, I learned to relinquish the need for so much external validation. Doing so opened my eyes to what’s possible. I finally started going after my dreams and creating the life I wanted. I became a more confident leader who wasn’t afraid to admit mistakes, pivot away from poor decisions, and ultimately make bold moves that transformed our company and industry.
And that’s what this week’s episode of Reflect Forward: Advice From a CEO is about. How to let go of the need for external validation. How to stop letting other people’s opinions dictate your life. Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for feedback or understand your impact on others. Self-awareness is a critical leadership trait; you should value the opinions of the people you work for and with. But far too often, we don’t go after our dreams and live our best lives because we worry we will be disliked, judged or shunned for our life decisions. And this is a path to an unfulfilling life.
So how do you let go of the need for external validation and stop allowing other people’s options to dictate your life?
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that people’s opinions of you do not reflect your worth. Just because someone doesn’t like you or disagrees with your choices doesn’t mean you are less valuable or deserving of love and respect. It’s important to remember that everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs, but that doesn’t mean they are valid.
Another reason you shouldn’t care what people think of you is that it can be a significant source of stress and anxiety. If you’re constantly worrying about what others think of you, it can be challenging to be yourself and pursue your passions and goals. You may find yourself changing your behavior or beliefs to please others, which can ultimately lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
Additionally, caring too much about what others think of you can hold you back from taking risks and trying new things. If you’re constantly worried about how others will perceive you, you may be hesitant to step outside your comfort zone and pursue important things. This can ultimately limit your personal growth and prevent you from reaching your full potential.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to focus on your happiness and well-being. Don’t let the opinions of others dictate your life and your choices. You are the only one who knows what is truly best for you, and you should never compromise your values and beliefs to please others.
Of course, this is easier said than done. It can be difficult to let go of the need for external validation, especially if you’ve been conditioned to seek it out for most of your life. But with practice and self-reflection, you can learn to prioritize your feelings and needs above the opinions of others.
If you find yourself caring too much about what other people think of you, there are a few things you can do to help shift your perspective and reduce your anxiety:
Practice self-reflection: Reflect on why you care so much about what others think of you. Is it because you want to be liked and accepted? Are you afraid of being judged or rejected? Understanding the root of your anxiety can help you identify areas of your life where you can make changes.
Challenge negative thoughts: When you find yourself worrying about what others think of you, try to challenge those negative thoughts. Ask yourself if there is evidence to support them or if they are simply assumptions or beliefs about yourself. Remember that thoughts are not facts, and you can change them.
Focus on your values and goals: Ask yourself what is important and what you want to achieve in life. When you have a clear sense of your priorities, it can be easier to let go of the need for external validation.
Surround yourself with positive people: Try to surround yourself with supportive and encouraging people who accept you for who you are. When you have a strong support system, it can be easier to let go of the opinions of those who do not matter.
Seek professional help: If you find that your anxiety is interfering with your ability to live a happy and fulfilling life, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you work through your anxiety and develop strategies for coping with stress and negative thoughts.
You are worthy of love and respect regardless of what others may think of you. Don’t let the opinions of others hold you back from pursuing your dreams and being true to yourself. Focus on your happiness and well-being, and let go of the need for external validation.
Question of the Week
This week’s question came from one of my employees who came to talk t me about feeling like she had lost some of her motivation at work. As we talked through how she was feeling, she asked, “Do you ever lose motivation at work, and if so, what do you do?”
My answer: Absolutely. We all go through motivation ebbs and flows, and a leader who tells you they never lose motivation is lying to you. But it’s our responsibility to figure out why we have lost motivation and recommit to making an impact. Listen in to learn how I recommit and some hacks I use to find inspiration when it’s wained.
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