Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Other People Say


"Certainly she feels no shame but inhabits her life as she lives it, her head held high."
~ Sena Jeter Naslund

I so want to be that woman- completely inhabiting my life with my head always held high! But, I have my fair share of moments looking like that gal in the painting; shoulders slumped from the weight of feeling less-than or the target of attitude. When I came across this quote it seemed to jump off the page at me. It kept rolling around in my brain. Eventually, I realized it's because of a theme I've noticed recently on lots of the blogs I visit.


Don't read further thinking I have an answer to this one, because I don't really. I still struggle with it from time to time, this issue of caring more about what others say about me or think more than I listen to or believe about myself. Why do we fall victim to the trap of caring more about what other people say, rather than use that energy to develop the truth of what we know about ourselves?

As I read what fellow travelers are wishing for and pondering, many of us are working hard to stop the tendency of caring too much about what others think or say. Their opinions, their advice, their notions of us. Their conviction of knowing absolutely what's right for us, what we should do, think, say, feel, believe.

But, it's incredibly difficult to stop falling into the trap. Especially when the other person is someone who is important to us, or we feel has some dominion over our life. We don't like that we do it, but we allow them to have power over us, wound us or undermine our faith in our abilities, our potential, our singular place in this world. It's really hard not to listen to what other people say.

Most of us begin our journey away from caring so much about what other's think by developing a false bravado, "I don't give a damn what they say about me! Who the hell are they any way?!" But, that doesn't really ring true. We say it, but in secret we torment ourselves by going over and over their words till we make ourselves crazy.

When that technique doesn't work, sometimes we seal ourselves away from others figuring it's best to keep apart....stay above it all....let no one in too deep. That way we don't have to worry so much about what's being said. That doesn't work either because we discover we're safe from the considerations of others, but we're also incredibly isolated and lonely. No...that's not the answer either.

Eventually it begins to dawn on us that the only way to be at peace with what other people say, is if we begin to strengthen our own internal voice. The one that is clear, strong and capable of cutting through the noise and clutter of all that's being said about us and around us.

The singular voice that is your spirit, your reflection of your truth as a Real Human Being. You begin to get comfortable with the sound of your own voice. Then you begin to like it. You begin to use it as a compass in the confusion of all the exterior words. It starts to act like a sacred knife cutting through the falsehoods and the inaccuracies...giving you the space to keep moving ahead.

Poor thing never said, "Let them eat cake!"

You accept that you aren't any different from any other Human who has trod the earth. All of us are tempered and trialed by the words that other people say. Some of us are branded wrongly. Falsely accused. Talked about repeatedly. Reviled. Demonized. But, it makes no difference when you know the truth of you...you hold your head high when you can clearly hear your own sacred voice. When you begin to understand that your internal voice is your unique sound of Spirit's song.

When you love the sound of your soul's voice like an operatic Diva, you begin to realize that what other people say does not own you even though it will impact you. You begin to realize that it cannot diminish you unless you allow it...and slowly...

The words, what other people say, becomes nothing more than the background hum of living. The white noise of life. You find yourself smiling as you realize that you are one of those rare Human Beings who feels no shame but inhabits their life as they live it, head held high.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Listens

32 comments:

Eileen said...

Holly ... words to read and think on ... that's what you offer us almost daily and thank you. You know there is another way in which this believing what others think can create roadblocks to knowing one's true self. Sometimes out of love we may over exaggerate qualities about someone until they believe they are truly that high on life's pedestal. Well, your parents or a love may see you that way, but hold on, the rest of the world may have another opinion. The art of listening and reflection go hand in hand are not practiced nearly enough.

Holly said...

Eileen, I agree with that completely!

Tabitha@ichoosebliss said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!
It took me awhile to figure this out, but I truly believe I've got it now. The crazy thing is now that those who always seemed to want to voice their opinions notice their words or judgment no longer matter and they tend to act out toward you for this. Is that not crazy?

Sara said...

I love this post Holly. I have struggled with this for some time, as I have always worried about what others think of me. I have tried desperately to fit in, to the point that I completely lost who I really was. It has only been recently that I came to realize that in the big picture this matters little. I agree, it might impact you but it shouldn't own you. Life is much sweeter now. Thank you for sharing your wise words with us.

Love to you. xx

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Oh, Holly, this is such a great post!! You are so right about the stages that one goes through when other people say things about you. The denial, the isolation. Your way of putting it as the white noise is perfect. It's there, but it shouldn't control our lives if we can just strengthen that inner spirit. Thanks for the reminder!!!

Kyddryn said...

Nicely put, Mizz Holly!

As Sara said to the Goblin King in Labyrinth - "You have no power over me."

Among my friends we have our own saying - Be who you are.

Still - I think we crave approval because we are largely social animals and want to feel included, if only in some small way, in the pack. We crave approval because we're conditioned to. We crave approval because everyone wants to have a place, to be valued, within the tribe.

It's a hard lock to break, this hold on us, and it makes society uncomfortable when people manage it.

Having grown into adulthood with the specter of disapproval lurking in my corners, I eventually realized that I am, obliquely, blessed. Because of a psychological condition, I have always believed that people are laughing at me, pointing, whispering, seeing all my flaws and tittering behind their hands, thinking unkind thoughts...but you know what? When you truly believe you are a wreck and everyone is laughing at you...If you just KNOW it's pointless to try and fit in...you're free to be who you are. And eventually, being free to be yourself becomes comfortable, like an old slipper, and you're loathe to redefine yourself to someone else's needs. You stop needing others to like or approve of you, and start being the person that YOU like and approve of.

One more quote, from Sting's Englishman In New York - "Be yourself, no matter what they say..."

If only it was as easy to accept people's loving as it is their disapprobation.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (who is nuttier than a Claxton fruitcake and OK with that)

The Weight of Me said...

What's so interesting is that the more I clear the internal airways of white noise, the more my internal ... um ... 'posse' (whatever) starts to have distinct voices ... by that I mean my archetypes, the whole range of nuances within each having an important contribution to make to that single ULTIMATE 'me' voice ... and some of those internal nuances really help strengthen my ability to do what I most want to be able to do: listen to external voices and glean from them what I need in order to keep growing, but without shame or guilt or self-sabotage ... very cool.

Christine Claire Reed said...

As Holly wishes, so I wish also! For all of us.

That we may be the support for one another that we all need.

That our positive voices will drown out the negative.

Flowers1 said...

Great concepts and truths Holly. Thanks for putting in words what we all need to hear,

Sarah said...

Wow Holly wonderful post!! Amazing woman you are. I love the idea of it being "white noise"...you pegged it! I love the fact that I have reached an age where I feel that. That I am able to tune it out and ignore the chatter. I wish I had been able to do it sooner in my life..it would have been nice..but it is what it is and I am thrilled to have it now. I do love the power with which you speak hon!!! Beautiful post!!
Hugs to you, Sarah

Alix said...

I find myself in the trap too. I think it stems from our need to gain acceptance from our parents and then from our teachers, school mates, lovers, husbands, etc. etc. etc. It has taken me nearly 50 years to see the silliness in all that.

LOVE your post. Need to go back and read it again... this time more slowly and digest.

Ty-Anna said...

this post is dead on and something I struggle with..thanks

beth said...

I fall into "that trap" often !

but the older I get the better I'm getting as far as letting it go...

but when you are a people pleaser, this can be so difficult !!

anne h said...

You said you want to be that woman...well, Holly, you are!
"The secret sits in the middle, and knows." Robert Frost
I am also greatly affected by what others say...even online! Go figure.

joyce said...

Where do you find your perfect pictures that seem made for your words??
I used to care deeply what others thought of me.....not so much anymore. Maybe because I don't think much of myself so I don't expect others to either. Maybe because I live in the Cariboo, where people think nothing of going to town with no make-up, a cap plunked over their hair, which has been needing to be coloured for a few weeks, maybe in a shirt with a conspicuous hole, or in socks that don't match.
Hmmm....I feel a post idea coming on!!

Marlene said...

Holly, I struggle with this when it comes to my housekeeping...I fret and stress when guest are coming over..because I think my house is not clean enough...I'm afraid of what people will think, which is odd cus I am rather confident and bold in all other aspects of my life! I would guess that we all have some area in our life that is a weak spot...maybe created by parent who we could not meet thier standards..non the less its a work in progress accepting what you can do, who you are..and how you are evolving. Comparing yourself to others is the trap..like fingerprints no two are alike!

cinner said...

Well Holly, a great post, we definately or most of us do struggle. As I age I think I am getting better. Big Hug

sema said...

Another Powerful post with a message
to remember when we get flustered by others words.

PureCommonSense said...

That is so true. Especially when I think of my extended family...

Sarah said...

I left you an award on my blog hon!! Hugs, Sarah

Not So Glamorous Housewife said...

I'm that girl when I'm around my family. Perhaps I should consider moving away again. It takes so much more work to be your true self when others place such unrealistic expectations on you. Sorry for the negativity. Maybe it was the pirate dream. ha.

Holly said...

Not So Glam: Don't apologize...you're safe to say what you feel here.

I think those people who make us want to flee, are there to help us develop that really big voice to help us cut through when we need it.

Think of them as running scales as you're practicing to be that operatic Diva that's in there...

Pirate dreams aside!

Diva Kreszl said...

What wise words... and said so eloquently may I add! Thank you for such a lovely post!

Mel said...

Oh yeah....the curse of me...

I think a lot of it comes from the old mantra my mother (and her mother before her..ad infinitum) would say..."OH! What would people think?!"

Is this just a British affliction? This concern for 'appearances'...

Great post...much to ponder here...

xo

Diva Kreszl said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog and for your kind words!

Joanna Jenkins said...

There you go, rattling around in my brain again! I've been wrestling with these feelings A LOT lately. Thanks for sorting it out for me so eloquently.

Wonderful post as always. xo

Ribbon said...

Hello beautiful Holly...

apologies but no time for reading right now... I'm playing Tag and i've just popped in to TAG YOU... I will return for a good read again soon.

love Ribbon x

Barbara said...

Dear Holly, Have you been in my head?? This was a wonderful, insightful post. And yes, I struggle with this, even though I tell myself not to. And you're right about trusting ourselves. It's a skill, probably learned, as you say, after much trial and error. Hopefully, we'll all get better at it as we go. Thanks so much for this.

My name is PJ. said...

Provocative, Holly. My theory is two-fold: When someone says or implies that I 'should' do/think/act a certain way, I see the HUGE RED FLAG of CONTROL waving in front of me. However, there are still those few people, in certain circumstances that can EASILY find my achilles heel. And I just know I mispelled 'achilles'...

Life With Dogs said...

So very true. If we could all figure this out early in life it would be a gift.

Kathleen Krucoff said...

A constant battle too, but I think I'm doing MUCH better with it...one certain person in my life keeps me centered and grounded...Dan. And then there are others too. I so enjoy your thought provoking posts. Thanks Holly!

P.S. One of my favorite quotes from Dan is "You are responsible for your own happiness". So true.

Renee said...

Holly what an incredible post. You are so dead on.

Love Renee xoxo

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