How To Be Happy With Yourself (And Stop Caring So Much What Other People Think)

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how to be happy with who you are

One of the loftiest goals of many women is to learn how to stop caring so much about what people think of us.

But even for the most successful among us, it can be challenging. People's words can really hurt sometimes!

I will share an example from my own life: 

Why is the question posed to a successful, educated woman following the discussion of her daily routine often about what is absent from her life?

"I bet you don't have kids," is probably one of the most hurtful statements to hear someone throw out when you've just finished discussing your career accolades.

Would that same question still be valid, asked to a man? Do we even hear that as a question, once we hear a man outlining his accomplishments?

I would argue that question is disproportionately still one that society looks to women to answer.

Why are we supposed to do anything at any certain age? It's enough to just get by in this life.

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As a therapist, I help people thrive when they tell me stories about how they are just trying to survive. Survive a job that makes them less and less money each year but still expects them to pay all their bills. Survive a relationship that probably they shouldn't be in, but are still trying to hold on to "for the kids." 

So, how do we get our power and influence back to take hold of our own lives?

It is, after all, the best way to learn to be happy with yourself. 

"Just stop caring about what other people think," is a great piece of pop culture advice to help keep us focused on the trajectory of our lives.

If only it were that simple!

The truth is, it is okay to be in pain about the statements others make to us. 

But we have options when presented with a painful situation: We can avoid it, or we can absorb it, to an extent.

The pattern of society is to avoid pain. Society tells us that to be happy, we have to consume and buy products to fulfill our happiness, or perhaps to take another drink or any other unhealthy choice that keeps others' words from hurting so badly. The inner communication in that message is, "Buy things, and you won't feel pain."

But that won't work. Not in the long-run.

The key that I have found to really not caring about others' opinions of where I am in life is twofold:

1. I take their comments from their vantage points.

Nine times out of ten, the person making a judgment about my life knows nothing about it; and it is, therefore, coming from their own insecurities.

2. I know myself.

Through many hours of learning about myself in therapy, taking self-development courses, and writing a dissertation about professional development as it relates to personal development, I have learned about who I am and what I need. I go back to the people I care about who support me in my life.

We can argue (as we do, currently, in our society) about gender inequalities, but regardless of how one identifies, as long as you have those around you who love and support you, and do not judge you, it will be easier to manage other people's opinions.

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Dr. Maxine Langdon Starr is a marriage and family therapist specializing in adolescents and young adults. If you have questions for her, you can reach her here! She's happy to help.