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How to care less about what others think and instead back yourself

In Body + Soul, Features, Stories by Nicole Fuge

Disapproval and rejection are healthy. Here’s how to make it work to your advantage and care less about what other people think about you.

By Carlii Lyon

I suddenly realised, at the age of 35, that certain forms of disapproval and rejection are healthy. And if anything, a good sign of progress.

I would even go as far as saying, if you have the approval of everyone around you, either you are playing too small, or you are not honest with yourself and others.

This all occurred to me after a meeting I had with a business colleague I admire.

Even before we sat down, I had given all of my personal power away. For whatever reason, I had carefully placed this person up on a pedestal of having, knowing and being more than me. It was a recipe for disaster, especially in business.

“Why did I care so much about what this person thought? What was I really seeking?”

The intention of the meeting was to get their opinion on a business idea I had. I wanted their support of the idea and, in truth, their approval of me as an extension of it.

This particular person did not like it at all, naturally I felt deflated and to some extent rejected.

When I arrived home my husband saw that vacant look in my eyes. And he questioned why I let their feedback get to me so much. I needed to care less, but I struggled with that.

With this in mind I retreated into the watery arms of a lavender bath and gave it some serious thought.

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Then it hit me

For the past 35 years I have tried to make everyone happy (clearly unable to care less – I have in fact been caring too much!).

For whatever reason having everyone’s approval was of paramount importance, even when it meant going against my own better judgement.

What is worse, it wasn’t just my family, friends and colleagues I worried about; it was sometimes people I revered from afar.

I would measure myself against what I thought these illusive characters would approve of (strange, I know). Who knows how many times I paid the price of not listening to my heart and intuition.

The buzzword right now – especially in business – is ‘disruption’ and by its very definition it is a ‘disturbance or problem that interrupts an event, activity, or process’.

Whilst I am not suggesting my business idea in this case has the potential to ‘disrupt’ an industry, I am suggesting that change and new ideas will inevitably receive the disapproval and rejection of those happy to maintain things just as they are.

This includes the ‘experts’ we often listen to above our own intuition.

Now is the time to care less about what others think and back yourself

It reminds me of a story I was told by a friend of mine I highly respect in the wellness industry. This particular friend is considered a fitness business guru and naturally would be the perfect mentor if you were planning to enter into that space.

Several years ago, a colleague of his came to him with a business idea. In his own words, he advised his friend “the idea would not work” and essentially not to bother.

His friend decided to care less about his advice, and instead follow his intuition regardless. And he ended up building one of Australia’s fastest-growing fitness franchises!

Making intuitive decisions in the face of disapproval and rejection is never easy.

It is something we are confronted with in business and life all the time.

I have now made a promise to myself, whenever I am in that position to always follow my heart irrespective of the consequences.

I believe every time we fail to listen to our heart and intuition, we step further away from our true self.

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“To find yourself, think for yourself”

It is wonderful to gain recognition, approval, love and acceptance from those around you. But when you give yourself all of these things first and foremost, you are in a real position of personal empowerment.

I recall my good friend and mentor, Dr John Demartini, saying to me once: “No matter what you say or do, you will always have a balance of support and challenge. The bigger the game you play, the more challenge you will face.”

I understood what he was saying, but I only really got it recently.

Imagine if we were to look at certain forms of disapproval and rejection in our lives symbolically. Rather than taking it personally.

What if we even expected it as part of growth and progress and began to see it as a good thing? A sign that our influence was growing. Therefore, so was the level of disapproval and rejection that surrounded us.

There’s one obvious exception to this idea that is important to mention and that is deliberately hurting others, causing harm and acting recklessly.

As it was famously said thousands of years ago “do unto others as you would do unto yourself”.

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Trust yourself and follow your intuition

The beauty of this world is found in its diversity. We are all different yet at the very core of our being we are all the same. And we are all powered by the one life source.

We may never agree on everything and in theory we probably would not thrive in a world where everyone thought the same, did the same and did not question a thing.

As we make our way through the maze of life, it’s important to embrace the fact there are only two people who really know what is best for you. That is you and your maker, whoever he, she, or it, may be.

Trusting in this voice and guidance may cause you to experience disapproval and rejection along the way.

Just remember, however, you came into this world with nothing but yourself, you will leave this world with nothing but yourself.

If you don’t have yourself, what do you have?