One of my colleagues told me once a great saying that has stuck with me for years-
“What other people think of you is none of your business.”
At the time I was flabbergasted as I have grown up with the exact opposite principle – pleasing others. For as long as I can remember, I have always cared about what other people thought of me. It was extremely important to be liked, well thought of, the ‘good girl’, the ‘good friend’, the ‘good daughter’ – just throw the word good in front of anything and that was the role I was born to play. If I thought someone didn’t think of me in the best possibly light I would actually go out of my way to debunk whatever awful myth they held of me.
As I grew older, this sense of wanting or needing to be liked extended to what people thought of my husband and then my kids. I have been blessed with two incredible kids. I have also been blessed with an extremely independent, strong-willed daughter who actually seems intent on making sure people dislike her. I ask to her to say hello or goodbye, she refuses. I ask her to choose between hi or hello, she struggles for minutes before she finally mutters a pathetic sounding hi. I ask her to say goodbye to her doting relatives and she battles me and finally gives in with a simple bye. I’ve tried a million parenting tricks; dropping the rope, preparing her ahead of time, being very simple and straightforward and nothing really works for a longer than a day.
I realize she serves an incredible purpose in my life and on many levels I admire her for I think she has a stronger sense of self at the age of four than I did in my mid-twenties. I’ve also realized that even though I have this deep relationship with the need to be liked that it’s time for a serious break up. It’s truly exhausting and unhelpful and a really big waste of my time and energy. If you can believe it, my new mantra is that ‘I’m disappointing people on a daily basis.’ That there are people who don’t like me, like my husband and my kids. And……who cares? Do I like me? Do I like my husband? Do I like my kids? Yes, Yes, Yes. Does anything really matter outside of that? No. It’s liberating to say the least. It’s a true game changer. Does it give me license to act like a horrible person? Absolutely not. But letting go of what others think, what the neighbors would say about my kids is a wonderful feeling. I feel my best when I know I’m doing right by myself and by my family. Everything else is gravy.