How Much Do Other People’s Opinions Matter To You?

Are you paralysed from doing something new because you are worried about what others will think of you, or what they might have to say?

Caring about the opinions of those we are close to is not a bad thing.  However, caring about their opinions too much can stop you in your tracks.   What if I tell them what I plan to do and they laugh at me or what if I tell them and they think I am stupid, or they come up with 100 reasons as to why I shouldn’t be doing what I plan to do?   It’s ok to care, but ultimately you have to be able to listen to your own inner voice and trust your own judgement or calling.

When I left school to go to College, my parents wanted me to stay on at school.  When I moved out and got a flat, they wanted me to stay at home, but actually to be fair, they came round to that idea quicker than expected, because it meant they could lock the storm doors when they went to bed and not get wakened up when I strolled in at some ungodly hour.   When I said I was getting married, they weren’t impressed with that idea either and when, some 5 years later I told them we were expecting our first child, they said, “oh no why do you want to start a family?”  Some years later I went back to Uni to do a degree, and they asked “what did I want a degree for?”.  I’m sure you get the picture.  They were so keen to protect me that they didn’t want me to do anything!   

Now, I love my parents, and they love me, and as far as I know they are quite proud of my achievements, but at no time, on the journey did they offer any encouragement or support.   As a result, over the years, I stopped discussing my plans with them.  This served 2 purposes, one was to stop them worrying and the other was that  I didn’t have to deal with the crippling dilemma of going against their wishes. 

You only have one life and you have to live it according to your own values and judgement.  Ultimately, only one person can make those big life decisions because only you, and perhaps your immediate family, will live with the consequences of those decisions.

“Opinions are like bellybuttons, (or navals, for the more polite among us).  Everybody has their own and they are of no use to anyone else”.

There is also a school of thought that says “is someone else’s negative opinion going to build you your dream home, pay your mortgage, the kids education,  your next car repair, a holiday or who knows – the next meal?”  How amazing would that be?  Sadly we all know that it won’t, so why on earth do we listen to the negative opinions of others and allow them to paralyse us from moving towards our dreams or our purpose in life?

Positive opinions or support and encouragement, on the other hand, can help us grow and charge on towards bringing our ideas into reality.  I would urge you to be that person who supports and encourages others to follow their dreams, whilst asking pertinent questions and stretching them to think things through carefully, so they are making reasoned, educated decisions.   If their plan doesn’t work out, they can come back and you can offer support to them, and if it does work, then you can pop the cork and share the “champers”.

Think about the people you surround yourself with?    Do they encourage you to grow and  try new ventures and ideas, or do they give you that look?   You know the one that says,  “Ok what are you up to now?”   Very often friends and family are hesitant to be supportive, not because they want to be negative, but because they don’t want to see us get hurt,  or lose money,  or be taken for a ride.    Some “friends” also don’t want to see you step out of your comfort zone and be successful, because they don’t have the courage to try themselves.   I will just leave that one there, as we need to, once again, think about the people we surround ourselves with.

Allegedly,  we become the average of the 5 people we spend most of our time with.    I would encourage you to have a think about this.   Do you see that as a good thing?   Or should you perhaps be considering widening your circle and rethinking your pack.   I personally love this, and its implications, as I spend more time with my dogs than I do any other humans, and they always agree with me, (well, so long as there are treats involved).    

Another interesting point of view is that we are who we are as a result of the people we have met and the books we have read.   Perhaps it’s time to hit the Personal Development section in the local library, Kindle or Audible.

So, How Can You Combat Allowing Other People’s Opinions Paralysing You?

  1. Accept Responsibility For Your Own Actions/Decisions

Be your own person and make your own decisions, accepting responsibility for the outcome of those decisions.   Keep a journal of your daily decisions and note the successful ones.   In time this will build your confidence in your own ability.   If a decision is not successful, then learn from it.  Explore it through your journal and note what you will do differently next time.  Consider any opinions offered, and whether you asked for them in the first place.   If not, then they are simply not required.

  1. Just because someone has an opinion, doesn’t necessarily mean it is right or true!

When our kids were small and would come home upset because someone told them they were whatever the horrible name kids were using on that particular day.   Our answer was always the same.   If I say you are purple with green spots, is it true?  The kids would gigg;e  and say “no-ooo mum!”   Well there you are, and that’s been my strategy  and filter ever since.   Just because someone says something about me, or has a thought about me or what I am doing, doesn’t make it necessarily true.

3. Remember – How People Behave And What They Say Is All About Them

How people behave and what they say, whether it is verbally or if they are keyboard warriors, (beware, there are a lot of those around), only highlights information about them, and not you.    The important thing for  you to remember is how you react to what they say.   That is most definitely about you and if you let their opinions paralyse you then your dreams or goals just weren’t big enough.

5 thoughts on “How Much Do Other People’s Opinions Matter To You?”

  1. An extraordinary and heartfelt written article Susan and so much food for thought. Thank you for putting this out there and so true on so many levels. Bravo 👏

  2. Pingback: A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step

  3. Great post Susan – I recognise the reaction from your parents a little too well from personal experience from mine😱😀

    Anyway it’s all about love and how people show it!


    1. Hi
      Yes I totally agree. Most of the decisions parents make, good and bad are made from a place of love. As a parent of grown up children myself only hindsight has allowed me to examine the mistakes I made.
      Thanks again

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