Maria Connolly, LPC

Category: Healthy Relationships

Stop Letting Other People’s Opinions Control Your Happiness

Learn how you might be sending “Control Me” signals and find three ways to care about other people’s opinions, without caring too much.“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.” ― Amy Poehler

Recently I spent some time in Italy, my country of origin, visiting family. I love Italy! It has an amazing history, great food and incredible sightseeing. My family is really tight; we care for one another and watch out for each other. Sometimes though, this profound care becomes advice-giving, unbridled criticism and blatant control.

I think it’s cultural, not just a family trait. I remember my mom gossiping with her friends, passing her time talking about others and even trying to tell others how to live their lives. As a kid, I vowed to live my own life and let others live theirs. Even with that strong declaration, it has taken some time to shed the guilt and shame for not following other people wishes for me. Now, I help other women reconnect with their deeper wisdom, find their own way, and create the life they really want!

The truth is…you can’t change a controlling person. You can only change the way they interact with you, by giving them a different YOU to respond to – someone who refuses to let other people’s opinions control your happiness.

If you feel like you’re controlled by other people’s opinions, how do you stop it? Firstly, it’s important to discern: are you sending “Control Me” signals to others? Unwittingly you might be telling others to take over. For example, you can do this by…

Neglecting yourself. By not taking care of yourself, you’re subconsciously telling others that you need them to nag you and make you “eat better, get more exercise, etc.”

Rebelling, to get more attention. By needlessly challenging genuine authority, you’ll get attention, but not the kind of attention that makes you feel better about yourself.

Failing to meet obligations. By not doing what you agree to do, you invite others to step in and get it done.

Asking for help when you don’t need it. By being afraid to make mistakes, because you don’t want to be held accountable, you’re inviting others to take control.

Saying yes to everything. By overextending yourself, you create a situation where others will always be on your case to fulfill your promises.

Choosing to remain silent. By not being in touch with your feelings, you may not have a clear idea of what your values are or where you stand.

Self-sabotaging behaviors like these invite controlling people to take over your life. How do you stop letting other people’s opinions control you? Consciously make yourself believe that their opinions don’t matter, in the sense that they don’t make you disown your true self. (Because you care about other people, of course their opinions will matter, in the sense of understanding them and remaining connected to them.) Here are three other key areas to work on…

  1. Take responsibility for yourself. It takes effort to be a person of integrity, whose word means something. Avoid mental and physical laziness. If you don’t want people to nag or control you, don’t put yourself in a situation that allows it. Strive to always keep your word. If you can’t fulfill a request, or you don’t really want to, then don’t agree to it. This is key: learn to control yourself, so others aren’t forced to do it for you.
  2. Resolve internal conflicts. Most of the time, when you’re worried about what other people think, you’re projecting your own fear, embarrassment, or self-judgment based on comparisons between your life and that of others. Learn to listen to this internal talk and create harmony between your Parts. My Tea Time Exercise can help you settle this internal conflict.
  3. Increase self-esteem. Self-esteem is just that – esteem, worth, love, honor, respect and value you give yourself. Others simply can’t give you self-esteem. So start feeling great about yourself!

Ultimately this is YOUR life, your journey. You’re the one who has to be happy and satisfied with how it’s lived. As Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

If you’re ready to put other people’s opinions where they belong and make a commitment to your own happiness, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Together, we can work through the issues that may be holding you back.

Setting Personal Boundaries – 5 Ways to Build Strong and Supportive Relationships

Setting personal boundaries takes courage, but in the long run, you’ll be happier and the people in your life will love, respect and appreciate you more.“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.” ~ Brené Brown

Have you ever been in a relationship where you’re the one who does all the giving while the other one does all the taking? It can make you feel like you’re ready to explode, right? Perhaps you have a boss, coworker, “friend”, or family member who always leaves you feeling drained, exhausted and tense every time you’re around them.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. You do have the power to change it. And it doesn’t involve avoiding them. You do it by clearly defining and setting personal boundaries.

When you’re uncertain of your own boundaries or you don’t clearly communicate them, you’ll cave in and say “yes” to things that make you unhappy and uncomfortable. It can even make you take on everyone else’s “stuff” to the point you don’t know who you are any more.

If you’re not used to setting personal boundaries, it can be difficult at first. It requires honesty and integrity to gain the clarity of who you are and what you need. Then little by little this self-knowledge will give you the inner strength to tell people, with conviction, respect and tact, what you need from your relationship with them.

Setting personal boundaries is a life long process. Here are five ways to accelerate that process…

  1. Give yourself permission to set personal boundaries. You have a right to your feelings and you need to honor your present preferences and limitations. It’s okay to say, “No”. You owe it to others to be honest with them, because a relationship built on self-deception can’t be sustained. Don’t take everything upon your own shoulders or let in baggage that isn’t yours. Remember that when you set a limit with others, the way they react or respond is information about them, not you.
  1. Build personal boundaries based on how you truly feel. Discomfort and resentment are two emotions that signal that your boundaries are being trampled on. Identify exactly how your boundaries are being crossed. Consider whether it’s the overall experience that you resent, or whether it’s how something was phrased or presented. Reframe negativity into a positive perspective.
  1. Be specific about your boundary limits. Where do you draw the line in the sand? What are your values, preferences, and needs – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually? Remember that having identified these once long ago isn’t going to serve you now. You’ll want to revisit this often, since you change and update as you grow and gain more insight or information.
  1. Practice mindful self-awareness so your personal boundaries really support you. Most people set boundaries out of frustration because they are “fed up” with a situation or a behavior instead of basing their boundaries on their own preferences, needs or values. It’s important to decide on our personal boundaries during meditation or introspection time not in a time of crisis. When you’re firmly grounded and centered, you’ll have self-confidence and won’t be plagued with guilt.
  1. Communicate your personal boundaries clearly. People don’t know your boundaries unless you tell them. You can’t expect them to be mind readers or to intuitively know what you need. In a respectful manner, share your limits with others often so they know where they stand with you. They’ll respect you more and like you better for it.

Setting personal boundaries takes strength and courage. But in the long run, you’ll be happier and the people in your life will respect and appreciate you more. If you could use help setting boundaries why not schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation with me so we can explore your options? I’m happy to meet in-person, by phone or via Skype.

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