I have battled with a low self-esteem for a very long time. This has stemmed from years of listening to people’s negative opinions about me, being turned down by people for being too old, fat or ugly (sometimes all three), being cheated on by exes, and having a crushing attitude of not being good enough because when I did feel I was people would accuse me of being arrogant and egotistical.
Over the past few years (especially during my Life Coaching training), I have come to realise that none of this actually matters. What people think of you is their business not yours. It’s merely their opinion on you…their judgement. Very often a negative opinion will stem from the fact that you act and behave in a different way to them. Sometimes it’s jealousy that brings these things to the front. If they are thinking less of you for doing things in a different way, really it’s their problem not yours. You have decided to do things in a way that works for you and as long as you’re getting the results, it shouldn’t matter the method you use. One must almost feel sorry for them for being stuck in the rut of “…always doing it this way.” This kind of attitude is the death knell for originality and progression.
You have to ask yourself why their opinion matters so much to you. Last year I connected with someone truly amazing. They were intelligent, could hold a decent conversation about many things, we had a lot in common but enough differences to make it interesting, they cared about me, took an interest in the things I was doing and to top it all off they were extremely handsome. We spoke every single day - I don’t even do that with my best friend. I looked forward to getting the messages and I was truly happy with the way things were going. Now, because we met on a dating site and not in person, people started to ask whether we’d met yet. When I said no the timing isn’t right and I’m happy the way things are they started to offer their opinions about the situation. “Oh if you haven’t met yet there’s something wrong with it.” “You really need to meet, how will know otherwise whether they’re right for you.” “I don’t feel they’re right for you I think you’re going to meet someone else.” And so on. In the end the constant badgering and “criticism” for the way I was handling the situation got to me. I started to think that I was doing things wrongly. I started to think that the other person wasn’t interested in me as a friend let alone anything else. I started to pester them to meet up (just as a friend as it seemed like the natural progression) and all I succeeded in doing was losing this person from my life. Yes, the fact that they erased me from their life is perhaps more a reflection on them than it is me…or is it? If I had stuck to my guns and carried on the way I wanted to who’s to say we wouldn’t still be talking. I let the opinions of these friends colour my own judgement.
If someone says you’re too old, you’re fat, you’re ugly; it’s very hard not to take these comments personally. But the bottom line is, do you really want to spend time with someone who has such a shallow attitude? They may be an extremely good looking person but if they have an ugly attitude like that - give them a wide berth! I do find though that responding with a positive thing rather than “***k Off!” is the best way of dealing with it. They often say things like that to get a response so give them one they weren’t expecting.
When you get cheated on you have to realise that the other person’s ego is clearly in need of work. They’ve needed to prove they can still pull (rather than being content with what they’ve got). But you need to look to yourself to find out if there is actually anything that you’ve done that made this happen. Have you been giving them enough attention? Have you been comfortable to be around or have you been arguing all the time or criticising everything? Now I’m not condoning the cheating at all as the other party really should communicate if there is a problem. The trouble is though that too many people go for the easier option. Talking to someone about a problem in the relationship can be difficult but if it’s something you both want then the work needs to be done. If you don’t want the relationship - get out of it quickly.
I had a difficult childhood where praise seemed to be short coming. Negative points were emphasised over positive points. This led to a need for constant validation and when none was forthcoming I had to validate myself. People took this to be arrogance and egotism. In fact all it was, was a genuine need for me to feel good enough. It’s always nice to get positive feedback or praise for things you do but when you don’t get it and all you get is a barrage of negativity it’s hard to reconcile this. In fact what’s worse is when you get second-hand praise. “So-an-so thinks you did really well in this.” Well why didn’t so-an-so tell me personally?! Let me clarify this…I would always much rather have constructive criticism than gushing praise. But I’d rather have nothing at all than a whole load of negativity.
I’ve discovered that the best thing you can do is to talk positively to yourself. If you can love yourself for who and what you are, it shouldn’t matter what other people think of you. If you can honestly say to yourself that you’re doing your best, it shouldn’t matter what others think. If you are being original and others aren’t on board, then either walk away, or realise that they’re the ones with the problems and they’re the ones who will get the negative feedback; and if you get the negative feedback then just hold your head high knowing that you’re the one with the originality and that’s a very good thing. If you’re happy with the way your life is going, then stick to it and don’t pay any heed to what others say. It’s your life, not theirs. As long as you can genuinely look in the mirror and think “I’m a good person.” “I’ve done my best.” “I have my integrity.” Then you’ve “won” (life isn’t a competition remember).
Respond positively to everything negative. Someone once wrote to me and said something along the lines of “I don’t actually dislike you, you’re a good person. Unorthodox, but I suppose we all do some things in a different way…” This was meant to be a compliment (in his mind) but it was actually a criticism because I was doing things my way and they weren’t the way he was used to. At first I just wanted to write back with two choicest words but then I thought I need to transform this to a positive. So I ordered myself a custom T-Shirt on which it says “Chris - The Unorthodox. Doing things his way since 1976”. The T-shirt serves as a reminder to keep doing what I do the way I do it but more importantly to keep being true to myself. The people who accept you for you and don’t try to change you are the ones you need in your life. Not the ones who try to mould you to their desires. That’s not to say that we don’t change…we do, constantly. We grow and we develop. But it should be up to US when we do it, not someone else. It is much better to be a first rate version of yourself than a second rate version of someone else.
In other words remember…