“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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.