Ending the practice of worrying about what others think of you is much easier said than done. I could tell you to stop worrying because it doesn’t serve you, but the next time you want to speak up at a meeting or present an idea or simply be heard, you will revert back to your old way of thinking (to worry about what others think) because this action is deeply entrenched in the neural pathways in your brain. The “worry” reaction now feels like an instinct for you. This likely stems from an event or a collection of experiences in your childhood that essentially sent you a message that you are not enough. If you believed the opposite, that you are enough, you would not be bothered by what others think of you because you wouldn’t have the need to prove you are enough. If the words that come out of your mouth aren’t earth shattering or no one likes your idea, you would be fine because your worth and value aren’t tied to how others define you.
A few steps you can take to change:
- Do the deep work of figuring out where the “I’m not enough” belief came from. It may have been spoken directly to you or you assumed the meaning. Replay the memories and tell yourself you are enough. (This practice may require the help of a therapist if the memories are non-existent or cause you emotional or mental distress. Attachment-based approaches, Emotionally Focused Therapy and EMDR are powerful methods for transforming negative messages from past experiences into positive ones.)
- Remind yourself that you are enough when you feel the exact opposite. For awhile you will continue to worry about what others think of you. Over time, as you continually refocus your mind on “I am enough” you will diminish the voice of the “I am not enough” neural pathway in your brain.
- Invite some friends you can be real with (who probably have their own “I’m not enough” issues) to join you. We heal most profoundly when we are on the journey with trusted friends. Share your experiences with each other and remind one another that you are enough.
This seems so simple when presented in black and white. The reality of this journey is it took a long time to solidify the negative belief, it’s going to take a long time, filled with intention, to change it. The journey is so worth it! Stay in there!