WHAT WOULD THE NEIGHBORS SAY?

WHAT WOULD THE NEIGHBORS SAY?

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.

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