why do we care what others think
One of our more enduring social fallacies is the idea that what others think of us actually matters. While this notion clearly has primal evolutionary roots, its shift from survival instinct to social imperative has become one of our greatest obstacles to self-acceptance. At a time when our ancestors shared the planet with woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers, no one wanted to get left behind. Group inclusion was necessary for survival. Today, our greatest predatory threat is our own species, both physically and socially. Regardless of this threat shift, the need for acceptanceБand the
that we won't be acceptedБremain powerful influences on our thoughts and feelings. In fact, this in large measure fuels the existential that has become the hallmark of a generation, driving everything from people-pleasing to codependence to over-sharing on social media. We have an inside and an outsideБan interior landscape and an exterior landscape. Our interior landscape is our subjective experience of our authentic self, while our exterior landscape is a product of our worldview. The two together create a psychosocial dynamic, but that dynamic has only one reference point, leaving us balancing self- and other-perception. When this delicate balance shifts because we begin seeking approval, or attempting to control outcomes, we become externally focused and can literally lose sight of our essential.
That essential nature is different from the ego-selfБthe fed and influenced by what is outside of us. In looking out, rather than within, our sense-of-self and sense-of-place become clouded. The more we attempt to establish these sensibilities through external means, the more clouded our vision becomes and the further we get from our authentic self. Instead of being fully present in our social interactions, our thoughts and behavior become means for eliciting a response, rather than an expression of self-value. The ego-self is a false self, a faцade scripted by the demands of our context as we perceive them. It is our self-image, our social mask, the role we are playingБand it thrives on approval. That need for approval is driven by self-criticism and, which are fear-based. That fear derives from any number of sources, from our original premise concerning fear of rejection to a, all of which begs the question: WeБve been disapproving of ourselves our entire lives without much success. Why not start approving of ourselves and see how that works out? Self-approval comes out of self-acceptance, which rises out of the recognition that we are, in fact, enough, just as we are. With that recognition, we can free ourselves from fear; we no longer need to look outside for a validation that, on the inside is self-evident.
We come into our power, our full humanity, in the recognition that our essential nature is all we need to be fully us. б 2014б , All Rights Reserved б for, or consultation locally or nationally via telephone, or Internet б б б б б б I was recently approached by a frazzled woman at a train station who was on the verge of tears. With an unsteady, quavering voice and a shaky demeanor, she explained that sheБd been approaching strangers for several hours, while looking to collect enough fare to purchase an Amtrak ticket. Her wallet was lost, and she needed to get home in order to avoid spending the night in ManhattanБs Penn Station (which houses a couple of tasty smoothie storefronts, but itБs not exactly an atmosphere for a good nightБs ). I did ultimately give her a little bit of money, but what I was really struck by was her overall concern that I would laugh or make fun of her current anxious state. БIБm sure you must think IБm crazy approaching strangers, but IБm just so nervous,Б she said. Although she was in a rather desperate situation, which can surely call for communicating with strangers, she was focused on how others would perceive her outreach.
This woman at the train station is certainly not different from you and me. To an extent, we all care what other people think of us. In fact, it permeates every facet of our being, and we typically are not even aware of it. Caring about what others think infiltrates ordinary, everyday aspects of our lives, whether it may be tending to our physical appearance, making certain life choices, or selectively choosing the words we say to those around us. probably only enhance the need for approval, and is a prime example. While some individuals create a Facebook page purely to keep tabs on friends and family, it predominantly serves as a platform a platform in which we play a БroleБ that entertains an audience willing to listen. We know what weБre doing when we upload certain photos, post expressive statuses, and write specific sentiments on various walls; not only do we crave attention from others, but we want others to see us in a particular light. According to an article by Tom Ferry, CEO of YourCoach, the need for approval has been conditioned within us since birth. БApproval from others gives us a higher sense of self-esteem. WeБre convinced that their recognition matters to our self-worth and how deeply we value ourselves. Б While seeking approval from others may be inevitable, problems may arise depending on how far one goes down that road.
When caring how other people perceive us interferes with our own intuition, thatБs when you may need to simply follow your heart and do what you feel is right. If you find yourself biting your lip from saying a quirky comment out of fear that others will raise their eyebrows in judgment, maybe thatБs a time to try to bury that mindset and just be yourself. By the same token, caring how others perceive us isnБt necessarily all negative. It does make sense to censor what we say to spare hurt feelings, to act appropriately at a religious affair, or to dress a certain way to fit into a designated environment. (Wearing a low-cut top on a job interview at a corporate office may not be the best way to impress the companyБs president. ) In other words, there are lots of gray areas and itБs up to you to decide if you care too much what others think. As the woman at the train station walked away to share her story with someone else, I smiled to myself, knowing that I did not roll my eyes at her account. Evidently, those actions would have indeed affected her, and I did not wish to be a source of her angst. See how it comes full circle? My only regret is not recommending the pina colada smoothie for her next Penn Station venture.
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