Do you let other people’s opinions determine how you live your life?
In my previous blog about thinking too much, I referred to how I’ve started to move away from basing my life on how other people view me and think about me and their expectations. I’ve known for a while now that I have allowed myself to let other people’s opinions, thoughts, views and expectations matter more than my own. The more I have allowed this to happen the less I have understood or been clear on what my own actually are, I consider that at times in my life I lost myself.
Over the years I changed myself to ‘fit in’ – I put my own true desires/likes/needs to one side and convinced myself that other’s desires, likes and needs were mine as well. I often said yes to things I deep down wanted to say no to and if I did ever say no I often felt guilty. And it’s not just something that happened in my adult years, it began a long time ago, if I can put a time on it I’d say it started around the time I returned with my family from living abroad in the middle and far east at the tender, vulnerable, ‘hormones kicking in’, young age of 11.
The Early Years
Growing up abroad I’d been a happy, contented child mixing with like-minded peers with very little judgemental behaviour or criticism occurring, but coming back to the UK it started straight away – I just didn’t realise it at the time, I thought it was something to do with me, in that I’d done something wrong or I wasn’t a good enough person as I was. The thing was all I’d done was grow up somewhere different to the people I subsequently went to school with which made me ‘unusual’ and, for some strange reason, subtly resented by some people. So, instead of staying ‘me’ I slowly and gradually over the years had to learn not to be ‘me’ too much in case what I said or how I behaved caused unintentional upset or annoyance to someone else.
I became a rebel of sorts but never to a high degree of seriousness just enough to affect myself in both the long and short term. I smoked, even though I swore at the age of 8 that I’d never do this disgusting thing, I drank, even though alcohol really does not agree with me, I skipped lessons at school, even though I loved studying and learning, I stopped attending church, even though this gave me peace and calm in my life.
There were times though when I did, as one of my old school teachers, Mr John Merrick, used to say, get back on the right path – but I just couldn’t be consistent with it, I was too easily influenced by other people and concerned with ‘fitting in’ – what other people thought or said seemed to matter more than what I thought or said. And, as I often suppressed my true self I would often behave in ways and maybe say things that weren’t really ‘me’ or how I wanted to be. This would then lead to me being really down on myself, filled with guilt and remorse and still not really knowing who or what the real me was.
I guess I’ve always felt something was not quite right over the years but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Even at the times when I was getting back on track, like when I was studying hard and getting good grades for my degree, for courses I attended, I still felt I had to hide this side of me as I was then knocked for apparently being too clever!
Tall Poppy Syndrome
I hadn’t been able to put a name on it but, ironically, something called tall Poppy Syndrome was brought to my attention from Jill Coleman and in many ways it seems to be a fit - according to Nardia (one of Jill’s friends and Wikipedia), Tall Poppy Syndrome is “is a pejorative term primarily used to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers. This is similar to begrudgery, the resentment or envy of the success of a peer.”
I’m not sure this was the always the reason for what some people would say to me or how they would treat me or why I allowed it to affect me in a negative way but I am glad that somewhere deep inside of me has always been the ‘real’ me and I am now working on allowing my self-worth to take precedence. I’m working on being true to myself and not being afraid to shine. People are still telling me that I’m mad to be studying, building my own business and such like but now I’m not changing to fit in with what these crazy mad people think, I’m being me. I'm also working on focusing on those who do believe in me, are supportive and offer constructive and positive feedback, why is it we always focus say on the one negative when there may be twenty positives?! A blog for another time I think.
If I hadn’t been ‘me’ at times over the years, I wouldn’t now have two beautiful daughters, be with my wonderful other half, have moved and lived in Lanzarote for two sun-filled years, or set up my own business. All of these decisions were negatively commented on by some, and yes, whilst I still went ahead with them, they were always tinged with guilt and worry about whether or not the right decisions had been made because, I unfortunately had allowed other people’s opinions creep into my subconscious.
People will always have opinions about what you do, you cannot change that. What you can do though is work on how you let these opinions affect you and the way you lead your life and the decisions you make. Sometimes other’s views may well be right and with hindsight you can see that BUT … you are allowed to follow what you believe is right to do and, if you have to, learn from what you do then so be it. In turn, you too can also respect other people’s decisions and choices and, whether or not you agree with them, be supportive and be there through the ups and downs.
Getting Back on Track
So, I’m now getting back on track and I think this is where the past few years have been leading me. I’m getting back on track to being me and learning to be true to myself, not to worry about what other people think of me or how they view me.
So … how am I hoping to do this, how can I help you to do the same if anything I have said resonates with you? Well, I’m currently working on developing a website away from, but alongside, my fitness classes focusing on ‘getting back on track’ – initially it was going to be about my journey back to health and wellness having, unfortunately, let it slide over the past few months. However, the more I’ve been thinking about it, as you all know I do think rather a lot (!), I’m actually not just getting my life back on track from the past few months, rather I’m doing so from the past few decades!! I’ll be sharing this with you and giving you tips, guidance and support as to what I find works, and what doesn’t, for me and how I get on in my ever evolving life journey.
The most important thing I will say though is that you have to be true to yourself, so many people say that they have regrets about things and I strongly believe that this is because they haven’t been true to themselves. If you’re doing what you believe in then surely you won’t have regrets, even if it doesn’t turn out the way you’d hoped.
Start straight away, write down what you like to do, what you love to do, what makes you excited, what you are enthusiastic about, what you’d like to learn. Then ask yourself are you doing any of it, if not why not, and what do you need to do to make these things happen. Ask yourself what is holding you back, is it a confidence thing, is it the fear of what other people think, is it knowledge or experience you need to acquire. It could be a whole myriad of things, you just have to find out what and then start putting steps in place to work towards whatever it is you want. It won’t happen overnight, you might change tack along the way, but what you are doing is learning to be true to you, to your beliefs and nobody else’s so that you can live a life without regrets and without hiding who you really are.
Keep watching this space for further details about ‘Getting Back on Track’ #GBoT
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