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Letting Go of Insecurities with Two Realizations

“What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” ~Carl Rogers

I used to spend an awful lot of time worrying about people liking me. Or what people thought of me. Or what they thought of the clothes I was wearing. Or whatever.

It’s taken me a long time to realize two things:

1. Most people really aren’t even taking notice of us. (They’re too worried about what other people think of them.)

2. Of the few who are noticing us, the people who are judging us harshly are not the people we want around us anyway.

Makes sense, right?

It’s actually something I’d heard a hundred times before, but it never really sunk in.

So why had it not sunk in? What made it so hard to believe this is actually the case, and that I should give up caring what people think once and for all?

I think, in simple terms, it’s built into our human nature. We’re social creatures, therefore we want to be sociable; and we think that in order to be sociable, everyone has to like us.

Otherwise we would become (gasp) social outcasts.

I recently moved from my small town to London. Capital city, UK. The big smoke (for the UK). Scary.

I decided, in my quest to try new things and get healthier, to join the gym at the end of my road.

Unfortunately, I’ve never felt quite at home in a gym. For me, it’s almost like that scene in Pretty Woman when she walks in to the designer store for the first time, and all the shop assistants look down their noses at her.

I have to admit, that doesn’t actually happen—at all. But it’s happening in my head, because in my head I also hear “You’re not as good as them,” “They’ll think you’re stupid,” and “You don’t fit in here.”

You may have had an experience like this at some point in your life. Maybe you were just starting a new job, or meeting your partner’s parents for the first time, or walking into your first day of school.

The problem is, it’s not other people with the problem. It’s us.

When I think about everything I assume everyone else is thinking, I see side glances and sniggers where none really exist. The gym, for me, becomes hard work, not because of the people who go to my gym, but because of how I perceive them to be.

I am currently working on developing a positive attitude. It underlies my whole philosophy on life:

Your thoughts create your reality.

My natural disposition was always a bit negative. I suspect I developed that attitude partially because my parents taught me that it was important to consider all the options and “be realistic.”

That, in itself, is not a bad thing, but I ended up focusing on the negative side of things instead of realizing I had a choice to perceive things differently.

After my experience with the gym, I decided to turn my negative thoughts about other people into positive ones. Instead of dwelling on all the bad things I thought people were thinking, I told myself, “I belong here,” “I’m happy here,” and “Everyone here likes me.”

Everything started to change.

I suddenly realized that no one was looking at me strangely. No one cared what I was doing or whether I was as gorgeous as them. (There are super attractive people at my gym!) They were quite happy minding their own business, doing their own thing, and working on themselves—and suddenly I was able to do the same.

We are sociable animals and want that approval from other people, which for generations has meant conforming to the social norms of our society. But we live in a time when people are far more tolerant of individual differences than ever before.

If we can start to accept and be who we are, we just may realize not only that it’s okay, but that most other people think it’s okay, too.

We really can be ourselves if we can remember that it’s our perception that matters—and it’s a waste of energy to try to see ourselves through other people’s eyes. Odds are, they’re paying far less attention than we think.

Photo by UVAFragola

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About Emma Brooke

Emma Brooke helps stressed, the frazzled and the fuzzy refocus and take stock so that they can start trusting their intuition and take back control of their lives. Say hi at [emmabrooke.co.uk] or on [Google+]

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://www.facebook.com/tizianka Dani Ivanova

    This is so true! It reminds me of the phrase: “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.” :)

  • http://www.deliveryourpromise.com/ Jamie Matthewman

    I think you’re right most people don’t really care. I have come to realise too that the flaws I perceive about myself are often seen as endearing by those who love us the most. Insecurity is probably the only thing that holds us back in life. And it is never about anyone else only as you say as we see the world and that is always a result of our thinking. I blog about these kinds of things here http://deliveryourpromise.com/ 

  • Victoria M

    Pink put it in a song! “Change the voices in your head.” I’ve realized it’s not a one-time change, but something I have to work on continuously. But the more I remind myself that I am OK where I am, that I’m right where I’m supposed to be – I wouldn’t be here otherwise! – the more I feel ok where I am, and that I belong there. 

  • Pingback: Letting Go of Insecurities with Two Realizations | Tiny Buddha: Wisdom Quotes, Letting Go, Letting Happiness In | Take to Change

  • http://zeroto60andbeyond.com Barbara Hammond

    One of my favorite quotes… “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
    Dr. Phil

  • Ning

    Thank you, it’s a great message. I am really ok and your opinion of me is really none of my busines.

  • Anonymous

    I love this article! Especially as I’m at the stage in my blogging where I perceive other bloggers having greater success than me, and feeling that I’m somehow not quite part of that community of successful bloggers.

    It is true that most people are far too concerned with their own situation to think much about mine. In those instances when someone does concern themselves with my business, I still find that’s about how they perceive themselves and doesn’t actually have much to do with how they perceive me. Either way, other people’s opinions of me is none of my business.

    It is only my opinion of me that matters. When I am living a good and healthy life, I am satisfied with my internal and external self regardless of what is going on around me.

  • BeverlyC

    As my hard-biting, no nonsense mother always asked me: You must have an awfully high opinion of yourself if you think everyone’s paying attention to you.

  • http://big-zen.blogspot.com/ Big Zen

    Very nice article Emma. I also think there is a real connection between how judgemental we are of others (even if it’s only in our minds) and how judgemental we perceive others to be. The more we try to see other people as human beings, just trying to avoid suffering and reaching towards happiness like ourselves, the less we tend to worry about them judging us.

  • Emma Brooke

    Thanks so much for all your feedback! I get the feeling this is something close to many peoples’ hearts. its not easy and I’m very much still working on my perception, but I have to say it’s incredibly liberating! beautiful quotes too! x

  • Dawn

    haha…it’s so true. too many of us spend too much time worrying about everything around us, and it’s that for the most part, no one cares.  Been there…realized, moved on!!!

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  • Hameed’ullah Ahmad

    this is really helpful :) 

  • Hameed’ullah Ahmad

    this is really helpful :) 

  • Harshita

    This is really helpful…I recently joined a class where i feel very out of place…I have tried to convince myself that other people don’t care or judge as much as we think they do but it has always failed…But the sentence that ‘your thoughts create your reality’ finally made me realise that the more i worry the worse i’l end up feeling…So from tomorrow i am just going to go and enjoy myself and not worry about others :)

  • http://releaseyouremotions.com/ Release Your Emotions

    Thank you Emma. Your article was very poignant and understandable. Very beautifully written.

  • http://www.thegreatnessmind.com Parin Patel

    Nice article Emma! :)

    It’s both funny, and amazing, how our mind goes to work and plays games with us sometime eh?
    Really shows the true power of our minds – the ability to conjure up anything, for whatever reason, in any situation.

    You’re right, most (if not all) the time those “other people” aren’t even thinking the thoughts we think they’re thinking. And even if they are “thinking those thoughts”, it’s up to us how we react, and act, in each and every situation. 

    It’s like Stevie Wonder said, “You can’t base your life on other people’s expectations.” 

    Cheers!
    Parin

  • Rivergirl

    I think you’re right!
    As you say at the end, most people are fine with us but sometimes we focus on the one or two who may not be so pleasant. So much of our energy goes into the negative portion which is rather small. Sometimes I find that I’m so busy thinking in a negative way that I miss out on the opportunity to connect with people in a postive way.
    So thanks for the reminder. It’s a simple message but one that can make a big difference.

  • gansita

    thank you :)

  • http://twitter.com/beerlagercider Jamie de Meo

    Wow this was truly inspirational. Concise, uplifting and brilliant. 

  • AJH

    Thank you for this. For a long time now i’ve been suffering from insecurities that originate from school. I’m in uni now and i really need to learn that people really aren’t focussing on me nearly as much as i seem to think. I don’t want to be ruled by insecurity anymore.

  • AJH

     Thank you for this beautiful quote :’) its funny how i now honestly just feel like i’m being stupidly arrogant thinking that people are paying attention to me. A very refreshing comment :)

  • rebean

    I was 46 when I stopped worrying what others thought of me. It started out with my mother in my childhood and growing up as a catholic with all the guilt and tripe. I tried to conform but as Ozzy Osbourne said I got sick and tired of been sick and tired. I also got sick and tired of my selfish mother who was a selfish bitch all her life. I wish I had realised all these things when i was young. I missed out on a lot but I am glad I figured it all out before I was old and miserable.

  • tiffany_godsgirl

    Good post!
    “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” ~Carl RogersI really like this quote.
    My post from yesterday (http://www.tiffanydawnbiagas.com/what-you-can-learn-from-a-bad-imitation-of-an-airplane-noise/) fits that perfectly. Whenever I am acting, my performance is so much better if I just embrace it. Whenever I am self-conscious about how I do a certain thing, my performance is lack-luster. Plus being yourself openly is a lot less effort than trying to be someone else :)

  • Ted

    -Eleanor Roosevelt*

  • Barbara

    Did that make you feel better? I really hope so.
    I felt it was more about the quote.

  • Anonymous

    I suggest you to read James Allen’s book “As a man thinketh”, your mind will literally open if you will apply his teachings to almost everything in your life.

  • kavin paker

    You have an entertaining way of writing and yes I love the why, I usually ask ” What are you hear to teach me
    Lubeck Altstadt
    hotel

  • Guest

    Thank you for sharing. This is exactly what I needed to hear – other people’s opinion of me is none of my business. I never really understood people who are always interested in what other people think of them or are always interested in other people’s business. I do sometimes wonder if they can do what they want to do in life since they’re always concerned about other people. Most people, like myself, are too busy minding our own business and going about our day, to even care.

  • Lily

    Still Eleanor Roosevelt, tho. Lol.

  • Matt

    Do you know the context of the quote? It would be nice to know. Maybe it was in a book she wrote, or during an interview?