Overcoming other people’s opinions

Overcoming other people’s opinions

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal ways to overcome other people’s opinions including peer pressure.

First a quick update:

Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen & Battered Woman’s Syndrome”
While people are angry at Mel Gibson they are ignoring Charlie Sheen who has been charged with allegedly putting a knife to his wife’s throat. Why? Listen to the radio interview I gave to Russ Morley, host of 850 WFTL. I also explain that we give free-passes to people we like and we react harsher to racist remarks than we do to actual violence against women – although both are seriously wrong.

To listen to the Radio Interview click here, you can also read the transcript of the interview here.

Now, let’s talk about how to become independent of the opinion of others.

Recently, I bought a new pair of sunglasses. “Look at the ocean and sky through these glasses” I would say excitedly as I passed them around. And people responded with amazement. These glasses – High Definition, polarized with a golden tint – made the world look completely different. The colors became more intense, the light was much brighter, the contrast was startling and the shapes were so much clearer while the soft golden glow made everything seem so much warmer and happier.

And as I walked away, I smiled as I pondered about how every one of us sees the world through our own glasses and just how different the world looks to each of us. And yes, there can be a lot of pleasure when we see the world through someone else’s eyes but pain can arise when someone tries to make us live the way they do.

For example, this week, I received a phone call from a distraught friend.

Julia is about to celebrate her 27th birthday but she feels so much pressure from her friends. Julia wants to find love, a partner, have children and build a family but her friends don’t agree. Julia’s friends want her to continue working and build her career.

“You have to be independent; you can’t rely on men” her friends admonished her.

‘But I would happy being traditional; I would be happy being a stay at home mom’ Julia would tell them.

Julia expressed her disappointment and frustration to me: “I feel so lost Patrick; I feel so pressured by my friends that I just don’t know what to do now.”

‘This is a challenge we all face, Julia; do we live for ourselves, following our heart, or do we live for others, living to please them?’ I responded.

‘People view you through their sunglasses – their filters, their beliefs, their values, their thoughts, experiences, judgments, conclusions, expectations and programming Julia. People want you to be what they want you to be for their benefit, to make them feel better; better about who they are and what they are doing. Sometimes, people want you to be more like them so that they can feel good about themselves; so that they can feel validated that they have made the right decisions about how to live their life. And so, your female friends Julia, who decided they want to put career first and not depend on a man for money or support want you to be the same and do the same. Why? They are afraid – of having made the wrong decision or doing it on their own. Have you ever been to party and you found that the people there wanted you to do what they are doing whether or not it is drinking, dancing or even drugs? And they get mad if you don’t join them, if you don’t copy or conform. They might even say, ‘I can’t do it unless you do it with me.’’

I further explained to Julia that yes, our peers want us to conform to their ways; to their beliefs and customs. And yes, sometimes our family and friends will argue that they are telling us what to do with our best interests in mind, and if we are in some sort of danger, then that might be true. However, generally speaking peer pressure is about insecurity and a desire for acceptance; you give in so that you will be accepted while the person placing the demands might be trying to control, intimidate or manipulate you to feel significant and secure about him or herself. (Read my Newsletter about Dealing with Emotional Vampires)

Ultimately, yes, we need to be able to make our own decisions, live our truth and overcome the ‘crowd’; the crowd who want you to be, do or have something based on who they are. And the crowd can easily lead you astray.

Before I reveal specific strategies to overcome the crowd and to become independent of the opinion of others, consider first who is your crowd.

The crowd is your family, friends, peers, colleagues, people from the office and even the media.

So how do we stand up, be true to ourselves and make our decisions based on what we believe to be right for us? How do we become independent of the opinion of others?

It requires two simple steps:

  1. Understand yourself and your motivations
  2. Understand others and their motivations

Understanding yourself and your motivations

Understanding yourself begins by understanding why you give in to the demands and pressure of peers – the crowd.

We do this to avoid confrontation or conflict, to please others, to be accepted, to gain approval, to keep the peace, to feel that we belong, etc. Sometimes, we give into, copy or follow the crowd because we want to feel connected and because we fear being separated, outcast or isolated. And yet, the greatest leaders, visionaries and achievers throughout history broke away from the crowd, stood up for what they believe in and went against the popular opinion and belief. (Think of the lone student who stopped a column of tanks as he stood in front of them in Tiananmen Square, China, protesting against the authoritarian regime and calling for change.)

The second key element of understanding yourself is clearly identifying who you are:

What do you want in life? What are your values? What are you principals? What are your dreams? What is your identity? What are your dreams and goals? The clearer about who you are, the less you will be swayed by others. However, the less clear and the more confused you are about who you are and what you want, the easier it will be for others to lead and influence and persuade you to their ways. In each moment, listen to your intuition; follow your gut feeling and be aware of giving into fear. Read also my Newsletter from November 2009 – “The Power of No!” 

Understanding others and their motivations

This sounds perplexing, doesn’t it: Why try to understand the person who is trying to control you? Why try to see the world through their glasses?

When you understand the other person and his/her motivations it becomes easier to know how to approach them and how to say ‘No.’ In some cases, a simple ‘No’ is an adequate response, but sometimes, if it is a family member or a close friend, then you might need a different response: “I know you love me and want the best for me, and so, I ask you to respect my wishes and trust me and allow me to be responsible for my own decisions.” When you seek to understand the other person there is also the chance that they may get to see you for the person you are and not for whom they wanted you to be.

And when we understand the other person, then we come to the conclusion and awakening: “I understand that the way others respond to me is about them.” In other words, as I mentioned earlier, those people who are trying to change you or get you to conform are doing so because of who they are and that has nothing to do with you and nor do you have any control over it. By understanding yourself and them, and by being truly clear and solid about who you are and what you want, you will feel empowered and be able to separate yourself from their issues, free of fear and able to focus on your values and what you want; you will be independent of the good or bad opinion of others.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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