What other people think of me is none of my business – Wayne Dyer

Are you having trouble wrapping your head around that?  I did.  I still do.  I’m not sure if it’s my upbringing.  The Wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident and What will the neighbor’s think kind of upbringing. My parents are always passing judgment on whether or not so and so is too thin or too fat or spending their money unwisely.  I know when I dress in the morning, I’m wondering what people will think.  Is the skirt too short?  Is the blouse too tight?  I’m not paralyzed by this but as I read that statement I realize it’s a monologue that goes on in my head unconsciously.

Actually, the source of this valuing other’s opinions above all else is Junior High School life at its finest.  I was in 7th grade in the 70’s.  Bell bottoms and corduroy were the rage.   I had purchased 10 pairs of corduroys in 10 different shades with all my hard earned babysitting money.  I cared a lot about blending in.  God forbid I walk into the cafeteria and stand out by wearing a dress.  My world centered on what others thought about me;  if I gained weight or lost weight, had an opinion different than theirs, had a bad hair day…the list goes on and on.  Heck, I do that today.  Has anyone noticed I lost 5 pounds?  Should I point it out?  Am I expecting too much?  Do people really notice me? I realize I spend a lot of time and energy wondering about others’ opinions.

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Here are some ways to let go of the importance of others’ opinions:

  1. Realize that this is self-inflicted pain. Bryon Katie’s book, Love What Is, posits that the suffering is in your head. The first question of “The Work” is “Is it true?”  When I work with clients, I hear all kinds of statements that are causing the client pain.  “She doesn’t like me,” “He wants me off the project,” and “They think I’m incompetent.”  How can you verify that, that is true?  Realize that believing it is true is in your own head.  You are suffering from your own beliefs and thoughts.
  1. Beware of how you accept both criticism and compliments. These are two sides to the very same coin. Someone can be validating you and giving you feedback that sounds like or is actually a critique.  Whether it’s positive or negative it is an opinion that you could potentially benefit from and has no bearing on who you are.  You are still you.  If you are focused and enamored only with praise, when you are criticized you will roll down the other side of the hill and be thrown off your game.  I believe a simple “Thank you” for either is just fine.  Temper your reactions and how you internalize feedback. Find a way to benefit from the critique of those whose opinions you trust.
  1. Let go of the battle. In Jack Kornfield’s A Path with Heart, he writes, “Let go of the battle. Breathe quietly and let it be. Let your body relax and your heart soften. Open to whatever you experience without fighting.” Fighting requires a lot of energy. It’s exhausting to spend your day worrying about what everyone else is thinking.  Put down your armor and let go.
  1. Be skeptical. As written in don Miguel Ruiz’ book, The Fifth Agreement, “Doubt takes us behind the words we hear to the intent behind them.  By being skeptical, we don’t believe every message we hear; we don’t put our faith in lies, and when our faith is not in lies, we quickly move beyond emotional drama, victimization, and the limiting belief systems our ‘domestication’ has programmed us with.” When you find the truth for yourself you are free to live without regret and fear.
  1. Let go of attachment. Kornfield has some wonderful meditations in his book. One of them is letting go of anger. He writes, “The strength of our anger reveals the strength of our attachment.”  It’s amazing how many things I am attached to and how much suffering it causes.  It’s my control freak inside who doesn’t want to let go.  But this constant striving to control the thoughts of others is unobtainable.  This is a huge insight for me.  It’s futile. Don’t attach.
  1. Be careful of your own language. My daughter made me aware of this. I would say “Have you lost weight?”  She asked that I say, “You look healthy.”  You might think that it’s a compliment but as she explained, it’s also a value judgment.  It is essentially saying that you were or weren’t thin enough before.
  1. Give up the idea of perfection. I think about this when I meditate. I feel like when my thoughts wander (and they always do) that I am not being perfect at meditation.  So what?  It’s the same with your self-dialogue.  When you are trying out #1-#6, let go of being perfect.  So when you start worrying that your boss thinks you’re incompetent, acknowledge that you let that thought slip in and maybe you can avoid it the next time.  Perfection is exhausting.

All of this can be difficult to try and implement.  It’s a habit that you’ve likely been doing since you were a child.  Changing your thoughts takes patience and trial and error.  We are all just works in progress. How wonderful it is that we have others to help us!

9 of the Best Books from My Reading List

You’re thinking. I’m not sure what book is worthwhile. After all it’s an investment of your precious time.
At least 4 hours if not much more.
If you’re going to invest 4 to 8 hours of your precious, over committed time to reading a book, you want to make sure it’s worth your investment.
Guess what? I’ve got you covered.
I’ve already invested my time in several books over the last year and I’m going to point you in the right direction.
Easy peasy.9 Books

Most Impactful book. The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz. This book is short and sweet and eye opening. The agreements are: Be impeccable with your word, Don’t take anything personally, Don’t make assumptions and Always do your best. From childhood we take on all sorts of agreements which skew our view of the world and of our thoughts. To drop all your prior agreements (re: your story) is incredibly challenging. If you listen to the audio book it’s read by Peter Coyote and he does an excellent job. If you want to change your thoughts, this is a must read.

Most Inspiring Book. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. This is the incredible story of Viktor Frankl as a Holocaust survivor. It’s gripping but incredibly enlightening. Here is a trained psychiatrist recounting his days as he watched many people perish as well as those who overcame the unrelenting torture that was Auschwitz. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Need inspiration, this is your book.

Most Useful Book. The Relationship Cure by John Gottman. The basics of connecting and/or not connecting with the people in your life. I am vigilant now about the way I connect with people. Am I turning away, turning against or turning towards connection. We’ve all done it. Deliberately ignored someone, been defiant or reciprocated an outgoing gesture. It’s all here. And if you listen to it on audible, Dr. Gottman is the narrator. His voice is so calm and so accessible. You absolutely feel like you can start using the information right now. Really.

Interesting but Not as Useful. Spy the Lie by Philip Houston, Michael Floyd and Susan Carnicero. This book was written by ex CIA operatives. Fascinating stories and tips for picking up on liars. The only problem is that I’m not a detective or a Russian spy. I guess I might be able to figure out if my son stole a cookie from a cookie jar by reading his body language but I guess I don’t think I have that many liars in my life, which is a good thing. This is a must read for anyone in the detective field or maybe Human Resources.

Most Accessible Book. Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine. Chamine gives you things you can start doing right this minute to get out of listening to the saboteurs that are talking in your head. He also has a ton of free assessments and audio meditations on his website: positiveintelligence.com. His main suggestions is to do PQ reps or I would call them mindful techniques to get really present. You can’t be worrying or suffering from anxiety if you are in the moment. Another bonus is that he is the narrator of the audio book.

Most Encompassing Book. 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Dan is a reporter for ABC news. He takes you on an auto biographical journey on his way to being happier and under less anxiety. He chases down every genre of self-help gurus. So if want the Reader’s Digest on Deepack Chopra, Dalia Lama, Eckhart Tolle and countless others, this is your book. It’s fun, at times light hearted and other times cynical but always real.

Least Likely to be Utilized. Unstuff Your Life by Andrew Mellen. This guy has excellent ideas to completely reorganize your life. I would love to hire him to organize mine. But his ideas seem way too OCD. His mantra is everything has a home and everything is in its place. He also obviously does not have a dog or children or a wayward husband. I’d love to take a week off and reorganize, label and back up all my photos but I think I’ll just rely on Facebook.

Cracks Me Up. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. Jen narrates this self-help book. She is incredibly funny and doesn’t pull any punches. I don’t think I implemented anything from this book but I was incredibly inspired when I finished it. “I can pretty much guarantee that every time you tearfully ask yourself the question, “WTF is my problem?!” the answer lies in some lame, limiting, and false subconscious belief that you’ve been dragging around without even realizing” It’s a fun read and even better listen on audible.

And Out of Left Field. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jonathan Davis. This book is some 20 hours long so I only suggest this if you like reading about historic figures and if you have a lot of time. I don’t actually have a lot of time but I listen to books when I travel so I got through this in a few weeks. Interesting story and it’s amazing how large the Mongol empire became. Barbaric to be sure, but an amazing story.

A few other honorable mentions are Small Move, Big Change, Better than Before, How to Fail at Almost Anything and Still Win Big, and The Obstacle is the Way. I have also been listening to the Great Courses which is a lecture by a professor who is interesting but they are all about 12 hours long so it is a commitment. But if you want to learn how to be a Non-Fiction Writer or Settle Disputes, there are a bunch of titles to enjoy.
So get out there and pick up that book and invest your time. I didn’t include the many books I thought were duds. Happy reading.


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