171. Choose very carefully how you think of yourself.

There is a quote that speaks directly to what we began discussing last week when I introduced The Habit of Reaching Your Own Conclusions.

I have been unable to trace the author as this quote is attributed to many different people. The quote itself is profound and is one which we would all benefit by heeding.

The quote states, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

Far too many of us spend inordinate amounts of time worrying about what others think of us.

We all have a desire to be liked and while fear of rejection is our biggest fear and wanting to be loved our strongest desire, we frequently lose sight of the fact that we have little influence over what others may think of us, and yet stress ourselves to intolerable levels worrying about something over which we have little or no control.

The challenge we have by worrying what others think of us and, perhaps, adjusting our behaviour in order to please others, is that by so doing we lose sight of that famous coaching moment in Shakespeare’s Hamlet when Polonius turns to his son and says:

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Every time we modify our conduct in order to please others while sacrificing our preferred activities, we are failing to be true to ourselves and, in essence, are forgoing our happiness in order to feel well regarded by another.

What happens when we do this frequently is that we damage what we think of ourselves and, frankly, what we think of ourselves should bear far more importance in our lives than what others may think of us.

I have long been an advocate of the power of affirmation, as I believe that every thought going through our heads counts. If we aren’t constantly feeding ourselves with positive thoughts, then we are leaving the door open for years of cumulative negative and self-critical judgments to flow through our minds, unopposed.

And a powerful affirmation which I believe is essential if we sincerely wish to become true to ourselves is one that simply, yet powerfully states, “the only opinion of me that matters, is mine.”

The Habit of Reaching Your Own Conclusions reminds us that the most powerful of all the gifts we received at birth – the power of choice – includes enabling us to reach our own conclusions about ourselves and to not be concerned by those of others.

The Habit of Reaching Your Own Conclusions gives us latitude to not only choose to be unaffected by how others view us, but also to form our own conclusions of ourselves without the risk of critical input from others.

Accepting that the views another person has of us is none of our business is a liberating truism that enables us to say yes to ourselves by saying no to others rather than constantly doing this the other way around.

The Habit of Reaching Your Own Conclusions means we alone determine our worth and do so from a perspective of our own assessment, free from the pressures of fear, guilt, or obligation that frequently cause us to compromise our own values while seeking approval from other people.

The Habit of Reaching Your Own Conclusions is not license to treat others poorly because we no longer judge ourselves by what they think of us, but rather it enables us to make decisions in the best interests of all, without the concern of how we may be thought of.

And it is my belief that we will be far more skilled at encouraging others to like us when we don’t go out of our way to do so.

I think that’s called win-win, isn’t it?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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