Not too long ago, I stumbled across this Ray Lewis quote that said, “One of the most dangerous things you can do is believe someone’s opinion of you”.
For some reason these words really stuck me, and not only because Ray Lewis is one of my favorite athletes of all time. I think it made me stop and consider how what other people think of me actually affects me.
Over the last few years, I have gotten much better at being able to accept others people’s negative beliefs about me without letting it alter my self-image by convincing myself that they are wrong about me, but for some reason their opinions are still able to bother me.
I would argue that as much as I love this quote, it does not quite go far enough. I would add that valuing someone’s opinion of you can be almost as dangerous as believing it. The worry and unnecessary stress that we can create for ourselves can end up wasting a lot of our energy and causing us pain.
Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you should value no one’s opinion of you besides your own, because then I would essentially be endorsing a lack of, or perhaps an avoidance of self-awareness -- which is really not healthy or practical life advice. In fact, it helps us grow and become better people to see ourselves through another’s eyes and to evaluate which areas of our character could use some work based on their perceptions of us.
Rather, I am saying that we should be careful and selective in whose opinion of us we allow to carry any weight or value. Certain family members, close friends, teachers, coaches, peers, or bosses could be examples of people whose opinions might be worth valuing.
I think some good questions to ask yourself when deciding whether a person’s opinion of you should matter to you are: “Does this person care about me?” “Do I admire this person?” “Do I respect this person?” “Do I aspire to be like this person in some way?” or “Does this person have my best interest at heart?” T
his list of questions can help you distinguish between a hater and someone who has the potential to help you grow.
Odds are, if you have someone in mind and you answered “no” to every single one of these questions, you may want to ask yourself why you are giving this person the power to bring you down and why what they think of you has any value to you at all. Often times we can’t just cut these people out of our lives entirely (because that would just be too easy), but we can reduce the negative effects they have on us.
By internally devaluating their opinions of us, we can take away the weight of their words, facial expressions, and actions. Their negativity only has as much power as we give it. Believe me, letting go of what other people think can be a hard thing to do, especially because it is so engrained in our culture to be “people pleasers”.
For me, this skill is definitely a work in progress, but so far, since I’ve been consciously making an effort not to care what negative people think of me, I have been happier, less stressed, and feeling more true to myself. So next time you catch yourself worrying about someone’s opinion of you, or you feel like you are walking on eggshells around someone, just stop and ask yourself a few questions and decide whether that person’s opinion is really worth your time and energy.
If you surround yourself with people whose assessments of you are worth taking to heart and let the negative people in your life become irrelevant, you will begin to feel more comfortable with yourself while at the same time allowing for growth and improvement upon your character.