Tag Archives: learning

Why Do I Care What YOU Think?

4 Apr

Why do we care so much about what other people think (about us?)  Every day I meet people who bemoan about how someone in their life diminished their achievements, pooh-poohed their plans, or expressed a lack of support for their ideas.  Somehow we’ve gotten it into our heads that people who purport to love us (and tell us that they only want the best for us) have opinions worth more than our own!  And this is such a fallacy!  Yet we do the same thing to other people without even intending to.  (Which begs the question:  If you knew that your opinion caused someone to feel badly about themselves… even to the point of giving up – would you think a bit more before YOU spoke?)

Realistically, it is only YOUR own opinion of yourself that should matter. And yet we falter…

I grew up with the adage “How can you do/say/think that?  What would the neighbors/friends/strangers think (of you?)  It was almost as if people on the street without any regard to you or your life should have a level of control over who you are! It was as hogwash then as it is now, but so many are still caught up in the trap of “what would so-and-so think?” – the truth is that it just doesn’t matter.

The opinions of others have nothing to do with me (or you!)  I’ve spoken at hundreds of conferences over the years and I am always amazed at the diversity of evaluations that come back from attendees.  They range from the polar opposites of “Couldn’t stand the presenter, didn’t learn a thing…” to “Best presenter I’ve ever seen – make sure you invite her back. Excellent!” – all from the same presentation! The rest of the audience lies somewhere in the middle, with the majority of people offering no comments at all.  What should I believe about my presentation – the best, the worst, or somewhere in the middle?

None of them!  All of the opinions from the audience are from THEIR perspective – based on what they like and how they perceived me. No one knows me except for me!  When I speak, I give it my best and that is all I can do.  When I leave the stage and feel good about what I’ve done, that is all that should matter – I’ve done my best.  Yet, of course I do read the evaluations (and they are the basis on which I am asked back!) – and they do still affect me.  BUT I am learning to ignore the outliers (both positive and negative) because they are so much less a reflection of me than of the audience members and their own frame of mind!

The only approval we should ever strive to meet is our own.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written over the past two years on this blog, you’ll know that I’m a fan of author and motivational guru don Miguel Ruiz and his landmark book The Four Agreements. When my daughter first gifted me a copy almost 10 years ago, I read it but the concepts just didn’t sink in at first.

Now, 10 years later, I fully embrace the concepts even though I still get tripped up by life’s little circumstances that suck me in and zap my energy!

Cover of

Cover of The Four Agreements: A 48-Card Deck

The Four Agreements just for introduction purposes (see my other posts on the subject for more insights) are:

1. Always live with integrity: I used to think this meant to live honestly (with high ethics and morals), but it really means: become your own best friend!  Love yourself unconditionally and never, ever say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend!  (i.e., Banish your inner critic and rid yourself of the negative thoughts like “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, rich enough – any of these!  Replace them with positive and realistic self-love endorsements such as “You are kind. You deserve love. You are a great person! (Which goes beyond appearances!))

When you’ve had a lifetime to build up your defenses with a damaging inner critic (mine was so strong it almost led me to suicide!) – often put in place to protect you from the (inevitable) onslaught of unsupportive but well-meaning people in your life – this can be a major life change!  But it is necessary – if you are not your own best friend who loves you for all you are – you’ll never find happiness. Happiness starts and ends within – so start today by loving yourself!

2. Don’t take anything personally: This one was also tough for me, but it makes so much sense.  Think about it – if you wear something new out to a party and three people come up to you saying variously:

  • “What a great color on you – great outfit!”
  • “Oh, from the looks of that outfit, you’ve gained a few pounds.”
  • “You look tired, maybe it’s the outfit, you really shouldn’t wear those colors.”

Who is right?  As I’ve stated above – none of them are “right” – they are all opinions.  If you feel good about yourself and how you look – that is all that matters.

When we stop taking the responses of others personally (they are not personal – they are only a viewpoint from another,) life gets so much better!

3. Never make assumptions: Agreement #3 also takes getting used to. When we realize that not everyone thinks like we do, it makes sense to stop and ask questions to clarify what others tell us.  A couple of years ago I was dating a guy who I really cared about and he told me after a few weeks that “I have no feelings for you.”  I was devastated because I took it to mean that he didn’t care at all about me, and I immediately started crying when he said this. He couldn’t figure out why I’d be upset because he meant that he wasn’t in love with me, he cared about me but wasn’t in love (he was going through a divorce at the time… I should have seen the red flags there!)  My interpretation was that no feelings = no caring.  I’ve since learned to try not to react and instead ask questions first to make sure that what I hear and interpret is the same thing as what is meant.

In life, we make so many assumptions about WHY others say, think, do, or act based on OUR opinions.  When we ask questions to find out WHY – the answers may pleasantly surprise you!

4. Always do your best: This one can be the easiest to embrace because it is tied to #1. If you are always doing your best, it is harder to tell yourself you could have, should have… anything.  When you do you best (at the time, given the information and resources at hand) – you can never could have, should have done anything differently!

All in all, it really shouldn’t matter to me what YOU think about what I write, what I say, what I post – yet it still does.  We are at the core, social creatures who are domesticated to care about others and respect the opinions and thoughts of others.

In this journey of life, I’m finally learning to put MY OPINION of myself first… and everyone else’s second to tenth.  It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but if I don’t accept and love myself – how can I expect anything of anyone else?

p.s., Comments?  I’d love to hear YOUR opinion – it doesn’t change the fact that I did my best in writing this post, but I’d still like SOME feedback.

p.p.s. Remember to register for the upcoming True You Discovery retreat May 3-5, 2013 in beautiful St Petersburg Beach, FL. Visit www.spiritualconnections1-trueyoudiscovery.com for full details.  I also wrote about this in my last blog post.

Have a good week!

Carol

 

We live what we learn, then learn what we live…

27 Jun
learning to ride a bike - _MG_2933

learning to ride a bike – _MG_2933 (Photo credit: sean dreilinger)

You’ve heard the saying “We live what we learn” and the concept is truly how we raise our children in Western societies.  Parents and influencers teach us how to live based on their actions (and some of their words).  For our formative years, we live what we have learned, and often it is exactly as these people have taught us to live – by rules, customs, dogma, unspoken approval/disapproval.  Over time, our personalities emerge and either gel with our families – or they don’t (and we soon find out just how “disdainful” that might be!)

As adults, I believe the opposite thing happens.  When we are on our own in the world, living, loving, getting hurt, falling down, becoming successful, being disappointed, etc. – these ALL lead up to a series of New Learnings based on what we live.

While learning and growing is always a positive step – WHAT we learn is not necessarily so.

I have learned that the naive trust of others that I grew up with and carried through during many years of marital “bliss” was misguided.  Today, I no longer trust without verifying (a good thing) based on learning through life’s lessons.

I seldom get comments on my posts (maybe the content is solely my experience and isolated to my polarized view of life!) – but I’d love to hear what you’ve learned from your life!

In exchange, I offer you my list of adult learnings (and a + or – denotes whether this was a positive or negative discovery!)

  • The Royal We (me, myself and I) must come first, foremost and exclusively (except when small children are involved!) This is hardest for women, as we were taught to take care of the world (and everyone in it) before we take care of our own needs.   +
  • No one else can love me unconditionally except for me (and to expect anything else was folly). Self-love is the greatest love (thank you Whitney Houston)   +
  • Trust, but Verify – believe what others say at face value, but verify it with other sources.  Learn when someone deceives or violates your trust to verify before trusting again:  “fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice —– SHAME ON ME!” +
  • Despite the traditional view that we “need” others, we come into the world alone, die alone, and traverse this life alone. We might “want” others, but we do not “need” others  +
  • “As for worrying about what other people might think – forget it. They aren’t concerned about you. They’re too busy worrying about what you and other people think of them.” – Michael le Boeuf   +
  • Alone and lonely are two different concepts. Alone = state of being solo.  Lonely is something that can happen even when surrounded by lots of people.  Alone does not equal lonely (and I am seldom lonely in the company of  the Royal We)  +
  • Never be a partner to anyone about whom you say “I hope I am never on their bad side” because eventually you WILL be!  +
  • Mean doesn’t go away.  (I mistakenly thought that cruelty was a learned behavior that can change.  Unfortunately, it is a character defect.) –
  • Never make anyone a priority for whom  you are only an option.  +
  • Become your own best friend – it is the best company you can ever find!  “Wherever you go, there you are!” +
  • Dating is an interview process – never ever settle for a second-rate candidate!  +
  • Make sure the Royal We (and your intuition) approves of your friends. +
  • Family (and friends) can be toxic to your health.  Life is too short to ingest poison.  –
  • Attitude trumps skill, looks, status, environment.  Always be positive! +
  • There are reasons that people from your past do not make it into your present or your future.  +
  • Never, ever waste a heartbeat on people who don’t matter.  +
  • Realize that a chance meeting with anyone on the street may be having a rough day – if you have a smile to share, do it! +
  • The Golden rule is a great theoretical rule for religion and children. People are far more selfish in practice.  –
  • Say no before saying yes to something that you will regret. +
  • Give freely without expectation of thanks or reciprocation! Giving and receiving are two unrelated concepts – giving is about you. Thanks and acknowledgement is all about the receiver (as is any reciprocity!)  I know that a perceived lack of gratitude (and acknowledgment) usually has nothing to do with me. +
  • Never stop learning.  I am learning that there is SOOOO much I don’t know that I don’t know. +
  • There is no one, true religion for all mankind +
  • Learn from your past (sometimes there are no lessons except how to avoid crap in the future) +
  • EVERYONE deserves respect no matter their age, creed, status, look, etc.  Be tolerant even if you do not accept their way of life – everyone has a right to live as they please without infringing on others. +
  • Don’t turn down an opportunity before it is presented. +
  • The internet is forever.Never write, post, text, tweet, or Facebook anything you would not be willing to say in public! +
  • You (and me) are whole, complete, and perfect just as we are. +
  • Be yourself!  Trying to be someone else for someone else sacrifices the great you and robs the world of your talents. +
  • There is nothing wrong with me! (and there never was.  Just because people in my past and present want me to change to SUIT THEM has nothing to do with me!) +
  • Having a boyfriend or significant other means NOTHING! I am beautiful, lovable and deserve love in this world, period. +
  • Never override intuition – anyone who says that “your perception is wrong” is delusional and emotionally unavailable.  (I lived this and now know better!) +
  • Not everyone you meet in the future is a clone of your past. Protect your heart. +
  • Be grateful for what you have! +

To my silent readers, do you have anything to add?

Have a great week and celebrate you!

Carol

Balancing what I know with what I don’t…

20 Apr

In many ways I feel like I am living a “Benjamin Buttons” life

(a reference to the circa 2009 movie of the same name where a baby was born as an old man and progressively got younger as he chronologically aged).  I married young, had two wonderful children in my 20’s, and now enjoy a single life where I love myself, appreciate good friends, and am grateful for health, work, career and a happy life.

In many ways I feel like I’m living my 20’s today – I have the freedom I never had when I was married or raising children to go out whenever and wherever – and I love it.

Along with my youthful outlook is maturity, and I realize just how much I do not know about life or the world!  Maybe that is the beauty of my current life and my place in it!  I know what I know (professional expertise) and I am learning everyday that there is so much that I don’t know (and maybe never will).

  • I know that friends come and go, but I don’t know when new ones will come and old ones will leave.  Somehow there is always a balance of good friends that is just short of 5 at any one time.
  • I know that good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to be fair or balanced.  I have no idea why this is so.
  • I know that it is more than okay to be me and to love being so!  Since I am not a child, I do not understand why others seek to change me (for my own good.)
  • I know that I am a giving and generous person (who often put others first to my detriment).  I do not know (and am learning that it doesn’t matter) what others think of me.
  • I know that my perceptions and feelings are valid, just are those of others. I do not know or purport to know what goes on in anyone else’s head.
  • I used to think I knew about love, and now I know that I know nothing at all.
  • I know that I know very little about human behavior aside from my own.
  • I know that I do not like conflict, loss, confrontation, accusations or cruelty.  And I know that there are people who do.
  • I know not to take things that people do or say to me personally (it is more about them and their experience), but it still feels personal. I do not know how to perfect this practice.
  • I know that I will never be able to predict (with any accuracy or precision) the reactions of others.
  • I know that girlfriends are the joy and stability of life.
  • I know that there are reasons that people from my past did not make it into my present.
  • I know that mean doesn’t go away and fortunately, neither does nice.
  • I know that friends can be the family we CHOOSE for ourselves.
  • I know that there is no guarantee that siblings will be friends.
  • I know that people are always surprising – sometimes in good ways, sometimes in bad.
  • I know that change is the natural state.  I do not know how to make more of the good things last longer and the bad ones disappear.
  • I know that for every “get rich quick” scheme there are people who were taken.
  • I know that I am grateful for the people, places, pets, nature, parents, children, and friends who grace my life today.
  • I know that they will not always be there tomorrow.
  • I know that I don’t know what I don’t know…

When I was younger, I used to think I knew more about life than I did not.  Today I think just the opposite.  Maybe that is a sign of maturity – or maybe it is proof that I am young at heart!  And I am quite happy to know that I have so much more to learn.

Have a good week!

Carol

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