Do you often walk away from people thinking, “Did I say the right thing”; did I offend someone”; “should I have said or asked …”?
Do you frequently hear that “little voice” in your head saying: “What will they think?”?
Do you often feel you need to be a certain way and you can’t just be yourself?
Most of us are concerned about what others think about us and we say and do things just to get the approval of others. These thoughts and behaviors seem to be so much a part of who we are and are so common in others that we assume that they are just part of being human.
In fact, however, you can eradicate these thoughts and behaviors forever.
How? By eliminating the beliefs that cause them. Although this problem can be caused by different beliefs in different people, there is one specific belief that anyone with this problem almost certainly has:
What makes me good enough is having people think well of me.
Today, I’m going to tell you how this belief is formed, why so many people have it (maybe even you) and how getting rid of this belief will transform your life.
How Negative Self-esteem Beliefs Are Formed
Early in life many of us form negative beliefs about ourselves like “I’m not good enough.” (Almost every one of the 13,000 clients we’ve had from 34 countries around the world has had this belief.) Because most parents expect children to do things that are unrealistic for their age (such as be neat and quiet and come when called at the age of three or four), and because most parents get frustrated, annoyed or angry when their children don’t do what they’re told, most children conclude “there must be something wrong with me” if mom and dad are upset with me so often, or “I’m not good enough.”
Because our beliefs about ourselves are usually formed during the first six years of life, most of us already have this belief when we leave our homes and go out into the world of teachers, other kids, school, etc. Obviously a belief like this would make us think as we start school: “How will I get people to like me and how will I make it in the world if I’m not good enough?”
And those thoughts, in turn, would lead to us feeling “not okay” about ourselves and anxious to some extent.
And then one day a solution appears. We do something that our parents (or perhaps a teacher or coach) like and they give us a very positive response. How does that make us feel? Happy and very good about ourselves.
The first few times that happens we feel good but don’t make anything of it. And then after this progression of events occurs a few times we conclude: If I didn’t feel good about myself, and then after getting praise and/or positive attention I do feel good about myself, what that means is: “What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me.”
This is a very special type of belief. It is a belief that tells us what needs to happen in order to experience being okay. And when it doesn’t happen we don’t feel very good about ourselves.
Well, if we don’t experience being good enough the way we are and we need something outside ourselves to become good enough, how often would we want that outside something to occur? All the time! Anytime anyone doesn’t like us, rejects us, or thinks poorly of us, we have lost our “survival strategy,” our method for making us feel good about ourselves. At that point the underlying belief: “I’m not good enough,” is uncovered and stares us in the face, leaving us feeling not good enough and producing some level of anxiety.
As a result, the need to have others think well of us is experienced like a drug addiction by many people. When they achieve it they feel good for the moment, but it’s only a matter of time before they need another “fix.” At that point they become obsessed about getting it.
There are other “survival strategy” beliefs, such as What makes me good enough is doing things perfectly; what makes me good enough is being successful/wealthy (can you see now see why some people are obsessed with this?); and what makes me good enough is taking care of others. And it’s possible to have more than one. But based on our experience in our private practice, “having people think well of me” is the most common.
It now should be clear why so many people are obsessed about what others think about them: Most people have the belief “I’m not good enough” (or some variation of it) and “having people think well of me” is the remedy most of us have found to cover up the anxiety that stems from having that belief.
If the obsession about having people think well of us is a direct result of having several beliefs, the way to get rid of the obsession is to get rid of these beliefs.