Escaping the Familiar Trap

April 27, 2008 | 16 Comments »

peanuts.jpgLast week a consistent theme popped up in my work with clients, which is a heads up that it’s part of my work as well. That theme was caring what other people think.

Letting others’ thoughts and opinions sway us is a common trap for losing the “feel good” vibe, as I’m sure we’ve all experienced.

Whether it’s neighbors frowning about the state of the yard, grandma’s look of shock about daughter’s new tattoo, or the wife’s opinion about changing jobs – daily life is rife with opportunities to be waylaid by what others think is best for us.

As long as we factor in other people’s opinions in our decision-making process, we’re handicapped in two ways:

  1. either we miss our true and authentic mark, or
  2. we don’t enjoy it as much because we’re worried about what “they” think.

I’ve found even when we believe we’re immune to others opinions, there are pockets of life where we’re unknowingly affected.

Example: years ago my six year old neighbor confessed to me she knew why I was getting divorced: “You made an affair.” I smiled at her misquote of what she probably heard from a parent, and laughed at what my living situation must look like to others. (My ex-husband rented the basement from me during and after our divorce, which didn’t preclude us from dating others.)

But when I took a post-divorce boyfriend car shopping with me, I came home with a heavy duty super cab long bed four wheel drive truck. In other words, a vehicle that the men in my life strongly approved of.

How is it I could laugh off the neighborhood thinking I’m an adultress, but shelled out many thousands of dollars on a vehicle that barely fit in my garage, let alone any parking spot in the city?

Simple: I didn’t care what neighbors thought about my love life, but I strongly cared what my love life thought about me – and my car.

Abraham repeats this advice often: leave the peanut gallery out of it!

In order to find our “feel good” vibration we have to follow our own hearts. And that very likely takes us in a direction that – sooner or later -someone in our life won’t approve of.

As long as we care more what others think than what our own guidance calls us toward … well, to put it simply: we’re handicapped.

My success in coaching didn’t come from listening to the “experts” who told me not to rely on electronic marketing to get clients; not to use music or pictures on the site; whatever you do, do NOT use a flash site; not to call myself an attraction coach because no one would know what that was; not to quit my day job before I had income from coaching flowing in; to be sure to tell everyone what I was doing so they could become or refer clients; to attend lots of networking events and speak wherever possible; etc. etc. etc.

They weren’t the “peanut gallery” to me, but rather highly respected people – many of whom I actually paid for their opinions. But I at least know enough to do what felt good, and that was very often not what they thought I should.

Took guts, but the payoff was (and remains) huge.

For my client who is upset because her mother thinks she’s ruining her children’s lives (by investing spare time and money in her art), or for my friend who is not enjoying planning her wedding (because her in-laws have pre-conceived notions about what it should be), or whatever situations where we find our “feel good” slipping away because we’re caring what others think, there is a simple remedy:

Get okay with yourself. Often the people in our lives mirror our own unacknowledged insecurities. When you find yourself fretting over what someone else thinks, check in with yourself about what you’re okay with.

And bask in your own self love. Lots of self love and appreciation does wonders for not giving a rip what anyone else thinks.

Not caring what others think doesn’t mean you can’t be a considerate and loving member of society. It just means you don’t sacrifice who you are in the process.

So if you find yourself not singing in the shower because your sweetie thinks you sound like a moose in heat, or you don’t dance because you never learned how, or whatever else is holding you back because of what others might think – set yourself free.

Follow your feel good, and as you love yourself for it you’ll find more often than not so does everyone else.

* * * * * * * *
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16 Responses to “ Escaping the Familiar Trap ”

  1. Kim Falconer says:

    This is brilliant Jeannette!!!

    Thank you.

    It is so true that attracting disapproval can, on one level, be a mirror. Are we ambivalent about some aspect of ourself and mom’s criticism or Dad’s frown, or a friend’s disbelief is voicing it? I think these situations are perfect for getting in touch with authenticity and then choosing what we want.

    I remember being criticized for breastfeeding my son past some point and I could ignore it completely (I was a Lactation Consultant at the time so ultra confident in my philosophy and intuition). No problem with that. Then there was Rico–a lovely young man who wanted to ask me out. Inside my head I heard YES! But my boss pulled me aside and told me he was a rat-bag (do you use that expression here?). In graphic detail he told me how this loser guy was nothing but trouble and probably diseased to boot.

    (he looked quite healthy to me…)

    But I didn’t date Rico and when my friend asked me why not I tired giving a few reasons that sounded totally fake and then said, “Because I don’t want to disappoint my boss!”

    We both laughed at that and I realized it was part true. The other part was, I didn’t want to be disappointed. So we will never know what Rico was really like because I passed him by. I hope the next time I have such a situation I till recognized sooner what is going on –get totally good with myself if I have doubts — and then just follow my heart.

    Thank you again, Jeannette. Great post!

    xxx Kim

  2. A Lactation Consultant?! How cool is that, Kim?! You are full of surprises!

    What great examples of how we find our power and sometimes hand it off.

    I’m working on not feeling wistful for the Rico experience (since we’re all connected, I kind of feel like I missed out on it as well – lol), but here’s to our ability to find our confident choices about all our future Ricos.

    Have you heard this quote from Byron Katie?:

    “If I had a prayer, it would be this: ‘God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation. Amen.'”

    Amen indeed!

    Thanks for posting, Kim. I always love hearing from you!!!

  3. Michaela says:

    Jeannette, this was just what I needed to hear (read) today, like the answer to one of my questions – thank you! 🙂

    Not caring about what other people think would also mean not following their advice (however well-intentioned) when it doesn’t feel good to me, right?

    People (mis)judging me or people giving me unwanted advice, both don’t feel good to me – I think it’s because both make me doubt myself and my own choices. I still need to work on this, thanks for the reminder! 🙂

    P.S.: I loved your recent ezine article about the economy as well!

  4. Absolutely, Michaela, it means also not following advice that doesn’t feel good. Ha – like Kim’s boss’ advice to avoid Rico – if it doesn’t feel good, it won’t serve you – no matter HOW well-intentioned the source.

    That’s one reason why I minimize input from others, and only solicit it from those who I truly trust. (Which is a pretty short list, since I’ve learned all the best guidance comes from within. But, sometimes that guidance says “ask so-and-so what they think.”)

    Thanks, Michaela, for your kind words about the ezine and for posting here! Nice to hear from you again!!

  5. Flavia says:

    Love, love, love this! Thank you Jeannette!

    On one of the recent Abe cruises, Abraham was talking about enjoying your ice cream, even if there are 100 other people who think it tastes like manure. Does it matter what they think when you enjoy it so much? ( oddly enough sometimes we do). And the opposite is true also. If 100 people agree that the ice cream taste really good but to you it tastes like manure, does what they think matter?

    The key is to always care more about our own opinion then the opinion of others. Otherwise we won’t be able to use our own guidance. All others know is at best guidance for them. Listening to our feel good is so utterly important because it is the only way to get specific, unique, guidance that is only there for us.

    Of course listening to those around us has its place, but only as long as we compare what they say with how we feel about it. If it resonates great! We’ve found what we were looking for. If not than it’s really not for us. Simple as that.

    Just a few hours ago I was thinking “What if who I was 4 years ago and my current self could meet?” I could tell her a lot that might help her but although she could hear me and what I’m saying she wouldn’t have had the experience that brought me that knowledge and therefore she wouldn’t truly understand. I’m using this example because in this case the “peanut gallery” would be me, just an expanded, evolved me. Even so it wouldn’t be such a great idea because it’s in the journey, in the experience that we get the best insights.

    Abe always says words don’t teach, it’s life experience that teaches. Yes!! Exactly!

  6. That’s funny, Flavia, I never thought of myself as my own potential peanut gallery! hee hee Maybe my gremlins, sure, .. lol I like the visual you presented.

    And especially your parting comment that it’s in the journey that we get the best insights.

    Who would spoil us our fun of this delicious maze called human being?

    Thanks for pitching in, Flavia! Your insights are always helpful and inspiring. 🙂

  7. JA says:

    You may not listen to me… but you still owe me mexican. 8^)

  8. Hey, JA, I listened to a LOT of what you told me!! And you’re right – I still owe you a delicious Mexican meal.

    When are we going?

  9. Amy says:

    Another big Thank You for this one!! The closing thought: “set yourself free” was an enormously powerful and resonating phrase that was like balm to me when I read it. On one hand it feels like cosmic timing, but I know that actually this is my personal Achilles Heel topic, so I’m going to save this one for future reminders.

    I was very grateful for some of the insights Flavia, especially: “Listening to our feel good is so utterly important because it is the only way to get specific, unique, guidance that is only there for us.” That one really rang true for me.

    I try to remind myself of the Abraham explanation of trying tie ourselves in knots trying to please so many people at the same time and what that does to us, and how it’s not really even possible anyway! This topic has really been on my mind lately and I have been finding some relief with the “wouldn’t it be nice if…” statements. It’s helping me stop some of my worrying about various things. Wouldn’t it be nice if I held my own feelings as my own top priority? Wouldn’t it be nice if I could relax into my own guidance? Wouldn’t it be nice if being my own #1 was really easy for me?

    I know the statements I sometimes come up with aren’t right on, but just reaching around for them puts me in a better place and stops the momentum of the gremlins that want to come out and play.

    Thanks again!!!!!
    Amy

  10. Actually, I think those statements of yours ARE right on, Amy! What could feel better than:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if I held my own feelings as my own top priority?
    Wouldn’t it be nice if I could relax into my own guidance?
    Wouldn’t it be nice if being my own #1 was really easy for me?

    I don’t think you could hit a better bullseye!

    Truly, I love your phrasing around gremlins who “want to come out and play.” ha! What a nice light approach to something that many experience as challenging and heavy.

    Glad you’re finding your way to the feel good, Amy, and for taking us there with you! Your post is much appreciated. 🙂

  11. Jerielle says:

    I adore every single blog Jeannette!
    I recently watched a biography program about Judy Garland and was very fascinated to hear that they didn’t want her to sing like the woman that she was by the time she was filming “A Star is Born”, where she sings “The Man That Got Away”. The studios wanted her to sing in her little girl voice that everyone knew from “The Wizard of Oz”. In a field where people’s reactions/feedback is just as important as how you feel as a performer, I am so grateful that she didn’t listen to them! If she had, we may have never known her as the legend she became. It’s just sad that she couldn’t ignore so much of the rest of the studio’s comments in regards to her appearance and drug prescriptions. That beautiful and incomparably talented soul never seemed to love herself as much as we all love her.

  12. Paul. says:

    Hey, Jerielle, what a great observation that we often have opinions (from other people) from both ends of the spectrum! Why is that so many of us (I’m including myself here) give so much power to the ones that don’t serve us and, like poor Judy, dismiss the ones that could help us and make us feel wonderful? Although (realization for myself here; as I’m typing this) I think that’s the point of Jeanette’s post: that we’re the only ones who have any control and power over how we feel, even for the good feelings. (Light bulb going off here. Thanks, Jeanette and Jerielle!)

  13. I didn’t know that about Judy Garland’s history, Jerielle. Perfect example of how important it is (and what courage it sometimes takes) to follow our own guidance. Wow.

    Thanks for sharing that.

    And Paul, here’s to changing our old habits of giving more weight to naysayers than supporters and encouragers. With ourselves becoming our biggest fans.

    lol How would THAT feel?!

    Nice thought there. Thanks for the inspiration and the posts, Jerielle and Paul!

  14. sophia says:

    Hi kim!

    I passed up my own Rico. I was young and naive and was brought up with the belief that reputation was important. Which I adopted as my own belief and cared
    WAY too much what others thought of me.

    The difference btwn my story and yours was that I did date him because I followed my guidance system at first. He was an amazing man who I could talk til the sun rose, he was sweet, patient, kind, spiritual but he was much older, divorced with two kids. That didn’t bother me. I was looking for inner characteristics that I valued.

    I went out with him and was on cloud nine until one day
    my cousin decided to tell a mutal friend which got back to me, that my “Rico” was so old, unattractive and I could do so much better.

    Because I admired her and my parents thought highly of her. I ended up abruptly ending the relationship. I began to question if it was too good to be true and that maybe I was settling too fast since I had not dated much, was young, that perhaps i should see whats out there.

    Boy did i ever see what’s out there! Lol I did not like it one bit. The next guy I dated ended up cheating on me and it scarred me for years to come.

    Sad isn’t it? That I passed out on an amazing person all b/c of one comment from someone I admire and my limited belief that other people’s opinions were more important than my own guidance system.

    The good news in all of it is, despite how painful I thought my rebound relationships were. I had an amazingly good time! I got to pick out all the qualties from each ex and have the belief that my “mr.perfect” is out there even though everyone else around me believe there is no such thing as perfect.

    There is to me! I believe “I can have my cake and eat it too!”

  15. sophia says:

    P.S

    I think I’ll start a new belief as a reminder to myself that
    ” Everyone’s opinions are my gremlins” if they don’t resonate with me because who knows me better than me right?

    P.P.S Awesome post Jeanette! A post we all struggle with at some point in our lives. A great reminder to look within ourselves for all our life’s uncertainties.

  16. Nice comeback, Sophia! I love that you’re not beating yourself up about it, but can see how it’s leading to great things.

    Well done!

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