Several times today on social media from various platforms, and different friends and acquaintances and people that I do not even know, a similar theme was arising. “I am nervous/scared that people will think (fill in the blank)…” …. “I am nervous because I don’t like (fill in the blank) about myself….” These ideas are very familiar as I live with these thoughts daily also! Self limiting thoughts are so tough to live with and even more tough to squash, however, I promise it is possible to do!
We need to start by getting rid of fear and ego and that is a challenging process in and of itself because we have all basically been built of fear and ego. One of my favorite quotes is “everything that you want is on the other side of fear” (and I always like to add ego also) and I do believe that this is 100% true! Why do we limit ourselves at the accommodation of others and what they may think? Well to start, other people’s ideas and opinions of us and what we do actually have some weight, or A LOT of weight depending on where you are in life in terms of maturity and growth.
So, because sociology is what I am studying, of course I am going to reference my education in this blog. The first sociologist I will reference is Charles H. Cooley who came up with the sociological idea of the “Looking Glass Self” which can be described as basically our own thought of how we think we appear to others, and we then base our sense of self on that!! And just to repeat- We base our sense of self (OUR WHOLE ENTIRE SENSE OF SELF) on what we THINK other people THINK of us. I just had to say it again, because it is really quite insane, but it is true! We form these ideas based on “reflective appraisals”, or how people respond to us and it affects us and who we are.
We all naturally do this, it is just a part of life. Your idea of self emerges based on YOUR understanding of how others see you and this is basically how we learn to be social and civilized people, through this reflective appraisal process. However, it can also create a great deal of fear (and stress) if we are not being honest with our thoughts or with ourselves and allowing our thoughts to run wild.
If you are having self limiting thoughts it is because somewhere along the way someone made you feel a certain way about yourself or your passion or your abilities, and it then affected how you think about yourself or your ability. And I would say, especially when we live in the time of rampant social media use, “no response” or “no action” or “no likes” to things that we put out into the social media world, is also translated as a negative response or appraisal, which then translates to us as what we are doing fucking sucks. We internalize these responses (or lack of responses) of people which gives us our sense of self, but what is the point, especially if it is damaging? If we are doing that then are we truly being our authentic selves? The answer is no, and if you want to get out there and make something of yourself or make your talents be known, then do not limit yourself to what others MAY think of you, WHO CARES! The Looking Glass Self can be severely limiting, restricting, and damaging! So many people do not even begin to try to achieve their dreams because they are more concerned with something external to them that causes them to doubt themselves.
This is a good time to mention my favorite sociologist, Erving Goffman, who says the world is a stage and we are all merely players and actors and we do engage in impression management. Long story short we basically act in a way that we believe people want us to act so that we can receive good feedback and to be liked. The problem with this is when we are trying to be something that we are not, we will fail every single time and when we are holding back to please others then we are not being true to ourselves! Both of these socioliogical ideas have a common theme— bearing the weight of other people’s perceived opinions and thoughts of us and letting them have any relevance in our lives at all, especially if it inhibits who we are, is tragic.
Start taking note, whether on paper or in your mind, of all of the good that you are and love yourself for all of those things! Do this instead of critiquing yourself to no end! Do not try to live up to fake expectations that you have built based on perceptions. Just try to be better than who you were yesterday, as we are only in competition with ourselves! People who are successful are the people who dispel any shame that they may feel, real or perceived and they keep moving forward, regardless of anything or anybody. There will always be haters, especially if you’re doing something right!
So basically the point is this– we are automatically doing things internally mentally because of the structure of society and how socialization works. We automatically discredit ourselves for any reason we can find which inhibits us. I urge you to flip the script and take the plunge! Anytime you have a negative or self limiting thought, recognize where it is coming from (maybe just from natrual social construction), reject it and flip the script, tell yourself something that is positive and true! PRACTICE SELF LOVE! Everything we want is on the other side of fear, and if you are fearing or worried about what others may think or say, I promise you its not worth it! You need you more than you need them! And maybe they need you and your story!
Write the book, publish the blog, record the vlog, live your passion! Don’t limit your life for a single second! Make your goals, smash them with zero hesitation! (Of course all of this positively encouraging rhetoric is only valid for goals and ideas that are healthy and do not harm others, in 2020 I feel that disclosure still needs to be made… unfortunately)
*her or him