This subject is something I’ve personally struggled a lot with throughout my life. But it’s something I’ve slowly begun to outgrow and have studied my way out of.
The wisdom you gain as you get older and also becoming a mom, really changes your outlook on life and view of the world. You just start spending much less time worrying about what other people think of you, because you’ve learned what really matters in life and how to priorities your time and energy (the little you have left) so much better.
These are my 7 tips for you, on how you can strengthen your self esteem and shift your focus away from what other people might be thinking about you:
Let’s start with the basics. This is simple: “Nobody can hurt me without my permission” – Mahatma Gandhi. If a person says something that effects you in a negative way, start by taking a thoughtful pause inside yourself, and practice becoming more aware of the times when you feel emotionally hit by somebody. Whenever that happens, give yourself permission and the time you need to just stop and take a few deep, calm breaths. This will help calm you down and give you a chance to gather your thoughts, before you react.
2. Shift your focus
Whenever you find yourself in a conflict with someone, evaluate how valuable (or not so valuable) this relationship is to you. Is this person actually contributing with anything positive to your life, or is it maybe time to consider if this relationship is perhaps draining you more than you realized, and not worth hanging on to?
If you however, do find the relationship to be valuable to you, then try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes for a minute. Try to understand where they’re coming from and understand their reasons for acting they way they do. It never feels good to attack or argue with anyone, and it’s certainly not something a person does out of enjoyment or from a happy state of mind. Search for the deeper reason why you’re having this conflict. It might be totally unrelated to what you’re actually discussing.
So aim to be a safe place for that person to communicate their thoughts and feelings, and really listen to what they’re saying (and perhaps even what they’re not saying), to get a better sense of what their reasoning is for judging or criticizing you. As Byron Katie says: “Defence is the first act of war.” So really try to hear them out, instead of jumping in and interrupting their first uncomfortable sentence, defending all the reasons why you’re right and they’re wrong. While they’re talking really listen, instead of standing there thinking about what your next response will be, after they stop talking.
Because that way of communicating won’t solve anything. You won’t hear their full story and their message won’t sink in. Maybe there’s actually an ounce of truth to what they’re saying (ouch!), and perhaps it’s something you might need to hear? Something you could improve about yourself…If you really let the person speak their full truth from start to finish before you respond, you’ll maybe be able to get to the root of the problem between you, and only then, will you be able to figure out a solution and which steps to take to find common ground and deal with these issues.
3. Realize that (luckily) not everything is about you
A great and very true saying goes: “That’s got everything to do with you, and nothing to do with me.” Don’t feel flattered, speciel or even hurt by this person taking their anger out on you. Because it could just as easily have been someone else standing in your shoes. You can never know what a person is going through, what they’re struggling with, or which challenges they’re currently facing.
if you, like me, are a very sensitive and empathetic person, I’m sure you also very easily get effected by another person’s mood and vibrations. But remember, that even though you can feel and tune in to their emotional state, it does neither of you any good for you to let yourself get dragged down to their level and roll around in their mud bath of crappy energy with them.
The good news is, that nobody has the power to ruin your mood or your day. You’re the only one who at any given moment decides the amount of negative energy and emotions you allow into your life. You can pick the mood you choose to be in, your state of mind and decide to keep a positive attitude, even when faced with adversity.
Now, this does require a fair deal of practice. Training and strengthening your “positivity muscle” will be highly beneficial to you throughout your life. Both for yourself and everyone around you. So remember: “No one has the power to hurt you without your permission.”
4. Give time and space
Sometimes certain circumstances play a role in conflicts appearing. During times when people are feeling stressed at work, have family problems, financial troubles, they’re going through a health crisis and things of that nature, it can all result in highly strained relationships. If a person can hardly deal with his or hers own life from day to day, chances are they won’t be able to cope with your worries and questions on top of their own struggles.
Don’t take it personally. Instead, try giving the person a little time and space to come out of their funk, and get some of their sass, joy and energy back. Timing is everything, especially when it comes to communication. So pick your battles, my friend. Save it for a time when there’s a good chance that you’ll both be able to have a constructive conversation about the topics you would like to discuss.
Perhaps your slightly strained relationship could also just be caused by the fact that you simply spend too much or too little time together? Maybe you need too spend some more time apart for a little while or prioritize making plans to see each other more often?…Worth a shot.
5. Get clarity
Are you still feeling speechless after the cold text message you received, from someone who was clearly mad about something you did (or didn’t) do? Could you just sense their negative tone of voice in the message? Did you also wonder why that person didn’t just come to you directly and told you what they were angry about, instead of sending such a cold, insulting text??…HOLD UP, wait a minute!
Before you walk around with a knot in your stomach for the next 2 weeks, have have all kinds of mood swings AND nightmares every other night. about how this confrontation will end up playing out. Before you drive everyone in your life crazy, by asking them a hundred times, what they think this person meant in their text message – just think about the fact that you could, possibly, have completely misunderstood this e-mail or text message all together.
Avoid jumping to rushed conclusions. Not everyone communicates or expresses themselves in the same why. We’re all so different. Just because you know what you would have meant by writing what they did, doesn’t mean the same is true for them. It’s better to just talk to the person directly or even better – schedule a time to meet in person and talk it out. I bet you that 90% of the time you’ll end up realizing that you got yourself all worked up over minor things, that seemed much bigger when all the thoughts around it were stuck inside your head, than it actually turned out to be in real life. Gotta love reality!
That’s why, if something is weighing heavy on your mind, I urge you to always seek clarity as soon as possible, for your own sake. Or you’ll drive yourself nutty for no reason. Don’t put yourself through that agony. Worrying never solved anything.
6. Think that maybe this could be teaching you a valuable lesson
Would you generally describe yourself as a decent and good person, who treats others with respect? Do you have strong self esteem and are you confident in that fact, that you always do things to the best of your ability? Du you also have a healthy dose of self knowledge? (btw. kudos to you, you sound like an awesome human being!) If you know you’re not too driven by your ego, or care too much about maintaining a certain “image” to the world, then i’m sure you’ll also really enjoy this quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer: “What other people think of me is none of my business”.
Not everything other people do and say is going to make sense to you. Just like you’re not going to admire everyone that you meet, not everyone is going to dig you. But if you genuinely like the person you are, it won’t matter one bit what others think of you. Please don’t waste your time and energy on empty, never-ending gossip and rumours spread by people who, most likely, don’t even know you (and must lead seriously boring lives).
if you on the other hand experience conflicts in your life with the people closest to you, then hold on to the fact that all challenges help us learn and evolve. They help us grow and become wiser, better people. So we shouldn’t dream of a life free from obstacles or difficult times either, or we’d stay stuck where we are. Which is a bit too predictable and repetitive, if you ask me. If you always try to find the postitive in every situation, then that’s the energy you put out into the rest of the world (thank you from all of us out here!), and the energy you’ll creative more of in your own life.
So if you focus on what you learn through every conflict and why you can be grateful that it happened, then you’ll dance a lot lighter through life. Life is not a battle to be fought, it’s a unique experience to be enjoyed (quote: me…wow, go me!).
7. Look outside in
If you can learn to see it all a bit from the outside looking in (bird’s-eye view, if you will), and not take other people’s harsh words to heart, you won’t feel as vulnerable to every mental or emotional punch they might throw your way, and you’ll find it much easier to meet them where they are, and be open to finding the solutions to fix the problems or misunderstandings between you.
Hopefully you’ll be able to reach a point where your first thought will be: “Hmm, isn’t that interesting. He/She is upset with me about such and such. I wonder how this dilemma originated and how we can move on from here, in order to work things out together…What positive input can I contribute with in order to help resolve this issue? How can I help this person feel better and heal our relationship, while still protecting my own truth and authenticity?…”
That’s the goal I myself hope to reach someday soon. Because I believe that is exactly the kind of people, with that kind attitude and mindset, that we could surely use so many more of. Don’t you agree? (Can I get a ‘HELL YEAH’!?)