Do you sometimes find yourself holding back, feeling intimidated by others or staying quiet? Maybe you notice it at work when you talk to people with ‘dominant’ personalities, more senior colleagues or difficult stakeholders.
It comes from the 'right place in heart'. You care about looking professional and adding value to the team. But as a result you may find yourself thinking extra hard about what is the right thing to say. You may struggle to admit that you don't understand something. Or ask for help.
my Personal story
This was my experience too. When I moved to Switzerland and started working in an international environment, I felt like an outsider. I had all these false beliefs about myself that were driving my actions (or I should rather say - non-actions). I was not aware of them back then, but now I clearly see the link between the thoughts I had about myself and how I felt.
Uncomfortable, not good and not experienced enough.
This feeling was not there all the time and there were moments when I felt relaxed. Mainly in smaller groups or during informal catch-ups. But, as soon as I was sitting in a room full of people and I had to share or even present, those false beliefs kicked in. I worried what others would think of me. I worried that if I say something that didn’t make sense, everyone would think I was stupid. So, I played 'the safe card' instead and said little.
I remember that I wished that I could share freely and just be myself.
I believe that as a result of this behaviour of mine, I did not come across as a capable professional. Sure, my manager and the direct team knew my value, but as I did not make myself seen by others, they couldn't see it too. Simple math...
Over the years I learnt three things that were real mindset shifts and helped me get out of my head and stop worrying about what other people will think of me, as much.
What I am about to share with you, allowed me to be more my authentic self and feel at ease around different kinds of people.
Please know, that I mean this one with a lot of love and compassion, but the simple truth is that - people don’t really care about you. They may have a thought or two about something you have said or done, but then they move on with their lives.
They worry about their own 'issues' and things on their mind, such as, their family, buying a new house, next deadline, their own insecurities,... There is no need to add more weight onto their thoughts of you than what they deserve. Relief, right? :)
What people think of you says more about them than it says about you. When I heard this for the first time, it immediately made so much sense to me. We all have our own ‘filters’ that we apply to everything we can see, hear or experience in life. These filters are based on our own upbringing, values or belief system and they shape our perception of the world.
Let me illustrate it on an example:
Imagine, you are in a restaurant and you hear someone, sitting at the next table, laughing very loud. You may think that they are being very annoying (your belief = being loud is disrespectful to others). But your partner may like it (his/her belief = it's important to have fun in life).
Do you see how two different people can think two different thoughts about the same person? Next time you are about to share something, remember that whatever others think of you, it is a reflection of their own filters applied onto what you have said and it has NOTHING to do with you.
You are not for everybody. There are naturally going to be people who like you and others who don't. It's unrealistic to try to get EVERYBODY to like you. If you are striving for it (even unconsciously) it will cost you a lot of energy on a long run and you will feel like you can never succeed.
Acknowledging that YOU are not for everybody can be liberating. You are special and unique in the way you are. When you allow yourself to be fully you, you will attract the people who like you for who you are.
Worrying about what others think of you can keep you stuck in playing small and people pleasing 'game'. You want to break through that, so that you can become a more authentic, free and happy version of yourself.
I hope that my learnings will help you in freeing yourself from fear of judgment and criticism and will allow you to be your authentic self.
When you do that, notice how much more ease it adds to your personal or professional interactions. You are amazing and you deserve to be heard and seen for who you are. Let the world see real YOU!
Like, comment and share if you needed to hear this reminder today.
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