Years ago, when my life seemed simpler, I went to a psychotherapist who gave me great advice, but I didn’t put it into practice. It’s true what they say – the best advice is hard to take. He, in all his wisdom, said not to worry about what other people think and not to bother trying to get them to see your point of view. It can be a futile and frustrating attempt to get each person you encounter, much less those that you don’t associate with, to gain your perspective. Sometimes, it’s better to say to yourself, “I know they’re wrong about me.” Then, walk in the other direction. Get as much distance from them as you can. Instead I did the opposite. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I would play their words over and over again in my head. I would preoccupy myself with what I would have said in response. I would try to get validation from them. I sought reassurance from people who knew me. I let other peoples’ opinions and stubbornness influence how I felt about myself.
Though I didn’t in the past, today I am trying to put that physician’s advice into practice. It takes effort and work but it will be worth it. It’s a cognitive behavioral therapy approach where you write down the thought, then reality, and if they aren’t the same you dismiss the thought. In other words, don’t let it bother you if others are wrong about you. It’s enough that you know it. Let go of what others think. I’ve found this to be the most difficult part – letting go.
This can take some self-reflection and thought, but to develop a strong sense of self your self-worth has to come from within, not from the approval of others. This is especially hard for people-pleasers, who put others ahead of themselves. What you think of yourself should have greater meaning than any opinion that others have of you. That’s what keeps you stable and strong in moments of turbulence or doubt. Too many times, we want to feel accepted and appreciated by others that we forget that how we feel about ourselves is much more important and will lead us to a future of better mental health.
About Rosa Dawson
I’m a 40 year old female from Ontario, Canada. I have first-hand experience with mental health. Officially diagnosed with being in the early stages of schizoaffective disorder in 2004, I struggle with depression and schizophrenia. I’ve had suicidal thoughts for many years and on a few occasions I have tried to kill myself. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology, I have studied mental illness with the goal of making a positive difference in the lives of others. Looking back, although I would not know it at the time, I probably had issues at a young age. I believe society has yet to take a proactive approach to mental health. With my writing, I wish to reach as many people as possible with this message: You should not suffer in silence. You are not alone.