“You’re abandoning yourself to the perceived needs of another,” explains Health and Confidence expert Rhona Clews “Any time we do this, it creates internal anguish because we’re actually placing someone else ahead of ourselves.” She notes that it’s not a selfless act, but rather an indirect strategy for us to get our own needs met — specifically our need to be accepted.
This can get us into a messy place. “Love for ourselves becomes conditional rather than unconditional. Rather than believing simply, ‘I’m loveable because I’m a human being,’ we think we have to earn it or prove it,” she adds.
Here are some signs you care too much about what others think:
This can be in a certain situation – e.g. when someone says something rude to you, or more long-term, for example, staying in a harmful situation for too long — such as a destructive relationship, or a job you don’t like. “Low self-esteem makes you think, ‘Who else is going to want me? If I stay longer I can prove how good I am.’” You may be accepting poor treatment in the hope it will ultimately end in the other person’s approval.
2. You tell white lies
Altering your opinion in order to fit in shows you’re putting someone else’s opinion before your own, whether it’s one person or a whole group. “You may even lie, like pretending you love a certain band just because your friends say they do,” Clews says. “Saying we like them too is an attempt to fit in and be accepted.”
3. You dress for other people
When you look in the mirror in the morning, do you first think whether or not someone else will appreciate what you’re wearing? Having a general preoccupation with how others will accept your choice, instead of whether or not you like it yourself, is a sign you’re putting others’ opinions before your own. “Instead of ‘What do I think of this shirt?’, it’s ‘what are they going to think?’” Clews says.
4. You’re afraid to say ‘no’
“There was a longterm study on happiness conducted that found that the happiest people said ‘yes’ when they meant yes, and ‘no’ when they meant no,” Clews tells Yahoo Health. Saying “yes” because you know it’s what someone wants to hear, even if it’s not what you believe or want, is just going to keep you from doing what truly makes you happy. “We’re taught to not say no,” she adds. “It comes from learning to be helpful or compliant.” Which makes saying “no” without any particular excuse — just because it’s what we want — difficult for most people.
5. You apologise when there’s nothing to be sorry for
Ever apologise to someone for the traffic? Or something else you had zero control over? If you’re concerned about what others think, you may find yourself taking responsibility for things that really aren’t — and couldn’t be — your fault. “And when you’re busy trying to exert control over things you can’t control, you’re going to drop the ball on things you are responsible for,” Clews says — which will make you feel bad in the end anyway.
6. You over-post on social media
“If we don’t know how to validate ourselves, we’re going to look outside of ourselves to do that,” Clews notes. Sometimes Facebook is the only way you communicate with certain people (an ex from high school, or an old classmate from college). You may tell yourself it doesn’t matter what those people think, but curating your social media accounts and presenting your life in the most picture-perfect way is a sign you want others to recognise and validate you. “It’s easy to get hooked, even just by how many likes you get,” Clews says. “It’s validation externally and it’s also public, so you can show-off your measurable worth.”
7. You drop your plans for someone else
Maybe you had plans with your significant other. Or maybe you just planned to spend time focusing on a hobby you love or doing something for yourself. But if a friend calls and asks you to come out, you might abandon all your plans to go do that. “We think that maybe we’d be rejected, or they wouldn’t call us again,” Clews says. And then you’re stuck out at a bar when you were just in the mood to relax at home and unwind.
8. You have difficulty making decisions
“We second-guess ourselves because we don’t have that secure sense of self, and then overcompensate with perfectionism,” Clews explains. “So we think, ‘Oh I might get this wrong,’ and ‘If I do this perfectly I’ll fit in.’” If you’re hemming and hawing over little things, think about why you can’t decide, and refocus your decision-making criteria around what’s truly the best decision for you.
If you see yourself in these signs it could be an indication that you are suffering from low-self esteem and working with a professional might help you. Please read these other articles about confidence and self-esteem here.
Read the full article at Yahoo Beauty here.
Words by Amy Marturana. Top image by Rhona Clews.