what to think about what others think – about us…


Today I had the honor of talking with a young friend of mine.   She’s fourteen and in the midst of – well, I’ll simplify the situation by calling it ‘peer pressure’.   Remember that?

In short, my pal is facing a dilemma that revolves around what other people will think about her.

I have to admit I felt more than a bit hypocritical advising her to not worry about what other people thought.   I’d LOVE to think I’m absolutely detached from that one myself.   It still hooks me though.

So I’m asking you.   How do you balance your healthy sense of self-worth with that part of yourself that (maybe, sorta, kinda) grades your worth based on the scores of others?

Do tell, please…


9 thoughts on “what to think about what others think – about us…

  1. I’m not sure I do balance that at all times but I do think that I do a fair job of being who I want to be. I have caught myself doing or saying something that I realize I don’t really believe. I guess I do the most balancing by trying to do the things that make me feel good about doing them. When I have to question how I am going to feel about an action (or inaction) I know I have to consider the action with greater scrutiny. Seems to work most of the time. There are enough folks that look at me sideways that I think I may not be too much of sycophant.

  2. That is a really tough one. Right now Maurice & I are trying to decide where we want to live without offending our daughter or others, since we moved to North Carolina to live closer to her. Not that we can afford to move anyway, since our mortgage is higher than our house is worth!

  3. Jim, deep and humble bows of THANKS for your being who you want to be AND for your honesty.

    Lois, i SO HOPE you and Maurice don’t go too far away – i sure understand the challenge of your choices though.


  4. My thoughts partially echo’s Jim’s. For my own children I also advised them to focus on the behavior the pressure was being brought to bear on, not the people doing the pressuring. Is it something they would consider doing if they were alone? Smoking was a prime example for us. Both of our kids were constantly surrounded by peers who smoked and we know they had to be constantly prodded to join in. But they considered it a nasty, unhealthy habit and concentrated on that.

    Compromising your principles for the sake of others approval is a slow acting poison on your soul.

  5. “Compromising your principles for the sake of others approval is a slow acting poison on your soul.” wOw, Don – that says it all and SO perfectly. ever thought of being a writer ? THANKS!

  6. This is an issue that I always had to deal with from an early age, because my family had SO many skeletons in the closet, and I was so afraid of being judged in their light if anyone opened the closet door! In my youth, I’m afraid I dealt with it by an insistent drive to be “better” than others at things I felt I could control— grades, artistic pursuits, etc. It was exhausting, and, unfortunately often backfired, as I unconsciously offended others. My mother would say, “Oh, they’re just jealous,” etc., but the backstabbing hurt, and it was a hard lesson in humility! As far as peer pressure to engage in “dangerous pursuits”, was concerned, I did my share of experimentation, but I guess my mother’s unconditional love made me aware of where to draw the line. I never wanted to disappoint her. As my children have gone through the years of “identity crisis”, I have tried to teach them to strive for success, yet temper it with graciousness. When they have been worried about what others may think, I encourage them to ask themselves if they are being true to what they believe is the right thing as a compassionate, moral person. If so, then don’t worry about it! When they receive the scorn of others, I encourage them to take a close look at where that other person is coming from, and how that may color his/her opinion. And I suppose that is how I deal with the issue myself these days. I’m too old and tired to try to be “better” than others—it’s more interesting and fun to appreciate other people and their talents! I’m just traveling along trying to to do the right thing, imperfect as I am; and I am hoping that my children’s love and respect for me and THEMSELVES will help them to know where to draw lines in their own lives.

  7. ML, leave it to The Artist to find such perfect words about ‘drawing one’s own lines’. THANKS!

  8. “The Good Lord made me what I am and I play the hand I am dealt. Sometimes the hardest thing in this world is just be yourself”

    -Brother Ali “Good Lord”

    great song and definitely made me think of this post =)

    It’s definitely very hard and takes a lifetime of work, but to me its still all about acceptance of myself and other people.

  9. I really loved Mary Louise’s post. Right on target. And the other posts really hit home. Seems we all deal with the same issues. Not surprising. It’s always hard to separate “who I am” vs. “who I want other people to THINK who I am.” I remember years ago reading an author who made a clear distinction between “self centered” people, and “other centered” people. His distinction dealt with people who are completely comfortable with what THEY think of themselves (internal verification), vs. people who seeks external verification and always need to have the approval of others. Seems to me, the trick is to find a good balance between the two. Too much internal verification, and we never see how we impact other people…or how we hurt or mislead them. Too much external verification, and we give up too much of ourselves trying to please others. Always been a struggle for me to find that balance. A good partner works wonders. Thank you, Lisa.

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