1 July 2010

Other People's Perceptions...

"What are people going to think?".... If you find yourself asking that question on a regular basis, you're probably too concerned about other people's reality and maybe have lost some sense of your own. Some years ago, I was overwhelmed by feelings of what can best be described as paranoia - the idea that people were criticising me was excruciating... I mean... why would they, when I tried so hard to please them...? Aha! Therein lies the rub.... People-pleasing, being nice, over-conscientousness, trying too hard... they're all part of the same package. Needing to be needed. Many moons ago, I've seen myself working lunch-hours, getting in to work early, finishing late, taking work home, not claiming for extra hours... Yes, I did love my job... But 'love' doesn't seem the right word somehow.

The feeling of 'letting others down' if I didn't do MORE THAN was expected of me was omnipresent. If I didn't manage to achieve the unbelievably high expectations I'd set of myself, I'd feel bad, disappointed and sometimes despairing. That becomes a default setting when we set our goalposts beyond reach... It keeps us in that negative space of not being good enough. But if we should reach them, we move them.... without a second glance back at what we've accomplished. The consequences? Disillusionment, feeling 'taken for granted', frustration and slipping self-care generally follow.

What I needed to do - and eventually learned to do - was to work on my need to please others and to begin the process of rethinking my expectations. I even began to acknowledge my successes when I reached a goal (imagine that!) and to give myself a quiet pat on the back for a job well done. Often people who've spent a lifetime worrying about what others think of them find it hard to acknowledge their successes, for fear of being thought of as smug or arrogant.

Self-care shows up again... going to bed before midnight, eating sensibly, cutting down on alcohol (if used), building in relaxation and repeating affirmations. After all...

"Other people's perceptions of me do not have to become my reality."

I have a choice!

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