I don’t give a damn what other people think about me.
Just kidding. I totally care.
But liberating oneself from the fear of judgment from others seems to be a hearty goal for many.
How many times have you heard that you shouldn’t care what other people think? How many times, when struggling to move forward with something, when creating something, when wanting to share yourself or your art with others, have you thought to yourself…
Why do I care what people think so much?! I shouldn’t care what others think.
Not true. Of course you care what other people think. We’re relational beings. How others view us deeply matters. We’re hard wired for this. If we didn’t have the need to be accepted and included and liked and loved, if we weren’t striving for this, we’d behave in all sorts of ways that may have us extricated from the clan. This is a deeply rooted survival mechanism. There’s nothing shameful about it.
Having our eye and heart and intention on being approved of is as inherent and natural as breathing, love making, hoping and longing.
Those who lead, who are brave, who share their voice and their view even when others may not like it aren’t ‘not caring what others think’, they’re simply allowing their art or their work or their voice to be heard despite the risk. Being liked and accepted and approved of still matters, but it’s just not what’s leading. Ironically, while such risk takers may be loathed by some, it’s taking such risks that actually lead to more inclusion and acceptance from those who matter if what’s being offered is well received.
Where we get tripped up is when we start to believe that the acceptance of others, particularly the acceptance of EVERYBODY, is a determining factor in our worth as human beings. Which it is not. Certainly putting an excessive emphasis on what others think about you will undercut your confidence, thwart your creativity and dissociate yourself from your own inner stirring and expression. But is not caring what others think the solution?
I see the path with grappling with this challenge as being more of a dance. A dance between you and other. A dance between the needs of the people and what your soul aches to bring forth. A dance between your needs and wants and expression and the needs and wants and expression of the world.
I don’t create my work to be liked by you. But is it important to me that you like me? Damn straight. I want you to like me. I want to like you. I want to move you, impact you. I want you to move impact me. I want to be in a dance of creation and receptivity. I want to be in a dance of insight and growth. I want to dance and move with you. I want to create work that delights you and work that disgusts you. I want to create work that challenges and embraces you.
Am I afraid of being rejected, ostracized, left out and inadequate? Of course. Does criticism hurt? Yes. You know what hurts more? Denying who I am and what I have to offer. When we allow ourselves to open up, be exposed and fumble around in our tender mess of humanity, we may risk rejection, but we also open ourselves up to being deeply loved while touching the world in some unique and significant way.
It’s rarely what people really think that we’re trying to free ourselves from, but our fear of what we think people may think should we take a risk. Once the risk is taken, the varying responses can actually be rich feedback for our own growth.
The trick, as I see it, is knowing the people that it really matters to be liked by, the ones it really matters to be accepted by and ultimately not betraying yourself for this love and acceptance. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I don’t need to be. But goodness, those in my life who love me, accept me, want me, adore me…I need that.
Not caring what they think of me is absurd. I care so deeply I organize my life around ensuring our hearts and souls are always in a dance together, nurturing, loving, growing and expanding.