"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses freeing ourselves from the opinions of others.
By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea
As human beings, it’s natural to care about what others think of us. We all want to be liked, accepted and respected, but sometimes we place too much weight on the opinions of others, and it can be easy to get caught up in the idea that other people’s opinions define us.
Of course, the depth of a relationship and potential for impact on our lives and influence how much we value someone’s opinion. But even then, it’s important to recognise that their opinion is just that – an opinion. It’s a perception, filtered through their own experiences, beliefs and expectations, and it doesn’t necessarily reflect the truth of who we are.
Despite knowing this, we often internalise these opinions and let them shape our own self-perception. We can become perfectionists, people pleasers, or hold our tongues to avoid conflict. We may change ourselves in response to criticism or let others make decisions for us.
But here’s the thing: we can’t control what other people think and feel. We can’t change their perceptions. What we can change is our own thoughts, feelings and perspectives. We can build self-esteem, set boundaries and be true to the path we want our lives to take.
It’s helpful to recognise when we care too much about what others think of us. Do you find yourself holding your tongue to avoid conflict, apologising even if you’ve done nothing wrong or struggling to say ‘no’? These are all signs you might be placing too much weight on other people’s opinions.
So, what can we do? We can accept that others will have opinions of us, and that some of those perceptions may be inaccurate. We can practice mindfulness techniques to lessen our worry over poor perceptions. We can consider the source of the opinion, and whether it’s worth placing value on.
Letting go of other people's opinions of us isn’t easy, especially when we’re wired to care about the opinions of others. It’s important to remember that we have the capacity to change our own thoughts and feelings, and while this process requires self-awareness, mindfulness and intentional effort, doing so can help you to live more authentically and confidently, free from the burden of living up to other people’s expectations.