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Whose Opinion Counts?

Profile of Caucasian young adult woman in red jacket leaning back against wall laughing.

We cannot control what others may choose to think of us. What we can control are our actions, reactions, and self- approval. Worrying about what others think takes us away from our own center and deters us from living in harmony with our goals.

By constantly trying to win others‘ approval, we expend energy that could be devoted to ourselves and to our close ones, and we consequently lose control of our own destiny.

Refusing to worry about what others think of us does not mean that we do not respect others or have concern for their feelings. It means that we are content to be exactly who we are and not what we think others expect us to be.

Look within to find your true value. The whole world may think us remarkable, but that does not necessarily make us so. We need to look deep within ourselves to find our true worth, to determine whether we are living in harmony with our best and noblest wishes for ourselves and for others.

Similarly, just because someone else says we are no good does not make us so. Shakespeare wrote, ―A rose by any other name smells as sweet. It is better to be true to oneself, even if this may lead to unpopularity than to please others by pretending to be someone we are not.

Listen to everyone but make your own decisions
There is no harm in listening to others, but ultimately we need to trust our own abilities to make decisions. A useful aid to decision-making is to examine how the decision adheres to your goals and purpose.

I used to sit in many board meetings not saying a word for fear of being seen as arrogant. Later I realized that by doing so, my contribution to the team was minimal. I had so much to offer but was afraid to express myself. As my confidence grew, I began speaking up more, and my true personality unfolded.

When we speak our minds without fear of judgment or censure, we are most effective. We begin to see that our views and thoughts are important and that we offer a unique perspective. The more we value our opinions, the more others will. Self-respect and freedom of expression are contagious.

My late colleague Dr. Wayne Dyer sums it up beautifully: “All those who have ever made a difference in any profession have listened to the inner music they heard and proceeded independently of the opinions of others. That was certainly true of one of my favorite nonconformists, Henry David Thoreau, who walked to the beat of a different drum and followed the beliefs of his conscience. He knew that the beat you hear within yourself is your connection to your soul’s purpose.”

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