“what you think of me is none of my business” -Terry Cole Whittaker
I was 16, painfully shy, dealing with some pretty serious body issues. I was about to walk around a corner in the gym locker room....“Ugh, Lisa thinks she is too good for everyone. She doesn’t talk to anyone, because she doesn’t think she needs to…”
I was 26, newly divorced and in a tremendous amount of pain. I was sitting at a happy hour trying to forget what I’d been through....“I would never date a divorced woman, they are bitter. No used goods for me."
I was 34, exhausted from teaching 6 dance classes and stressed about having enough money to keep my business running. I was sitting by an open window ...“Lisa, the lady who owns that dance studio is such a bitch. She wouldn’t even give us a discount on classes. Plus, have you seen her, how can someone with legs like that be a dancer?”
Ouch. Feeling like someone just punched me in the stomach. Words are painful. And, what’s even more painful is, that in each of these moments, I questioned myself – am I a bitch? Am I “used goods”? Am I ok? Do I have worth?
But, the beautiful thing is, I also had a choice.
I had the choice to be validated by myself, by my heart and my knowledge of who I am. To love myself, and my imperfections. It may have taken me years from when these statements were made, but I made a choice. A choice to be me and a choice to not care what they think. To extend compassion to people who may be dealing with some things about themselves that they don’t feel good about and were coping by making judgments about me.
Is that selfish? No. I think that we can be respectful members of society and consider others and still be secure in ourselves, to love and embrace everything that makes us unique and human. In fact, being true to yourself allows you to act in ways that align with your values and to become a better member of society. I am certainly a kinder, more compassionate person when I feel right with myself.
So how do you let go of what other people think? That’s one hell of a question. I don’t think that you can really not care, not feel a reaction. BUT, I do think you can choose what your reaction is. Here are some things that have helped me in this process: