You wear clothes that you hope others will like. When you have visitors, you want your house to look perfect. You don’t give your opinion, because you might get criticized. Why are we so concerned with what others think of us? Carina Dusseldorp, confidence & self-love coach, digs deep and finds the answer in our childhood.
Ask yourself: from what intention am I saying or doing certain things?
Are the examples above recognizable? If you are so focused on the other and base your behavior on this, you are not living free. You give away your power, as it were, and you are no longer connected to yourself. Why do you care so much about what others think of you? And why has it become your autopilot?
You give away your energy
If you are continuously concerned with what others think of you, your energy is with the other person. Your attention is, as it were, with the other person and especially with things over which you have no control. You usually have no control over the opinion, thoughts, feelings, or behavior of another person.
So every time you try to get a grip on this, you are in ‘the other person’s business. You want to control someone else at that moment so that you feel better. If you say it very ‘flat’, you are manipulating the other person. Of course, it is not as black and white as it sounds now, but ask yourself what intention you act from. From what motivation do you say or do certain things.
Trying to control the people around you usually leads to an energy leak. On the one hand, because you notice that you actually don’t have that control at all, which can make you frustrated. On the other hand, because you will adapt yourself to influence the behavior of the other person and so you do not do or say what you would really like to do. That will eat you from the inside and cost a lot of energy. If your energy is with someone else, who is with you?
You live in fear
As you have just read, controlling another is a form of manipulation. The American spiritual teacher Byron Katie puts this very aptly:
‘When you say or do anything to please, get, keep, influence or control anyone or anything, fear is the cause and pain is the result.’
Why do you want that control at all? Because you’re scared. Afraid of judgment or criticism, or fear that you may no longer fit in if you behave differently from the group. Fear is always the underlying ‘driver’. In this case specifically the fear of not belonging, of not being accepted, and the fear of rejection from the other.
Adjusting yourself occasionally for the benefit of the group is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. As humans, we are group animals, so that impulse is quite normal. But if you do this while it goes against your own feeling, intuition, or values, it will break you at some point.
If you’d rather keep the sweet peace than express how you feel, or honestly indicate where your needs lie, it will hurt. This is going to eat you up under the skin. Every time you do this, you are sending a signal to yourself that you are not really that important.
You feel child pains
The fear of rejection usually stems from childhood experiences. Experiences that you had when you could not yet filter and could not yet understand that the behavior of your parents/educators was not your fault. When you were still dependent on their love, protection, and care. As a child, everything comes to you unfiltered and because of the dependence, you do everything you can to get that love. Even if that means adapting.
Suppose you were often criticized as a child for how you looked. It may be that if you get that criticism now, it triggers something in you. You want to avoid that criticism at all costs, so you do everything you can to look nice so that others will accept you. It is also possible that your parents did not mirror your emotions as a child.
That your anger, sadness, or other painful emotions were not allowed to be there and were somehow punished. Then you would rather not feel those emotions in the now because you associate them with them. So you put them away and start exhibiting behavior that tries to avoid punishment (in the form of criticism, judgment, etc.). This almost always happens unconsciously.
You reconnect with yourself
To free yourself from these survival mechanisms it is important to reconnect with yourself. You want to stand in your own power again and now offer yourself what you may have missed as a child. Creating the safety in which you dare to feel all your emotions and look at your child’s pains. When you become aware of this, examine feelings, and let them move through you, you will discover that you are safe, free, and powerful in the now. May your voice and emotions be there.
When you can feel the connection with yourself again, you come closer and closer to your own unique core. By peeling off layers of survival mechanisms, you begin to see who you really are. Then you will see that certain fears no longer serve you and you can stand for yourself. From a connection with yourself, you can stop rejecting yourself and experience that criticism, judgments, and opinions of others affect you less emotionally.