Q: How can I stop caring so much about what other people think about me?
A: I learned a huge lesson about caring what others think when I had a frustrating call with an ex-husband. A mutual friend had told me that my ex still saw me as the person I’d been while we were together—a person I no longer was, because I’d grown. When I confronted him, he kept insisting on his own perspective.
A friend stopped by right afterward and saw how upset I was. I told her what had happened and said, “I hate that he doesn’t see me the way I am.”
She asked, “What would happen if he did?”
I was surprised by her question and thought about it for a minute. And that’s when I realized, Huh—I’d feel incredible for about ten minutes … and then go on with my life. My ex “getting me” really wouldn’t change anything. This realization was so freeing. That was the last time I cared about how my ex perceived me.
The best way to reorient our perception of ourselves is to start with God.
Of course, that wasn’t the last time I dealt with caring about what others think of me. But this experience has been a good reminder that what others think about us doesn’t change anything—an idea that’s pretty powerful when you start to consider it from a spiritual perspective.
When we’re caught up in caring what others think, or worrying that others don’t like us, we’re thinking about ourselves as likable or unlikable personalities. So to get to that spiritual perspective I was talking about, we have to reorient.
Christian Science has taught me that the best way to reorient is to start with God. Because God is our creator, and what God creates must be like Him, understanding what God is helps me understand what I am—what each of us is.
So, what is God? Some of the things I love knowing about God are: that God is perfect, indivisible, and the source of all love; that God is glorious; and that He is Mind, Soul, and Principle.
And if that’s what God is, then what does that make you or me or anyone? It makes us flawless, whole, and loving. It makes us beautiful—even exquisite—and we are intelligent, creative, and honest.
Notice anything about that list? It’s all good! Totally good. Nothing in there to dislike. Nothing in there to be made fun of. Nothing incomplete, unappealing, or flawed about your extraordinary spiritual identity.
This spiritual identity doesn’t come and go based on what others think. It doesn’t come and go based on how good you act one day, or whether you don’t seem to be at your best another day. The way God made you is totally solid and safe—and nothing can change, alter, or touch it.
Knowing your spiritual identity—in a deep, prayerful way that locks it in for you—is powerful. When I’ve been clear about what I am as God’s daughter, I’ve felt comfortable with myself. I’ve also felt happy, secure, and loved—and able to love others more openly.
The way God made you is totally solid and safe—and nothing can change, alter, or touch it.
And when I have heard an unkind or untrue thing someone has said about me, knowing myself as God knows me has helped me in two ways. If the comment has been unkind, but shows me where I have a genuine need to grow, understanding my spiritual identity helps me address and heal the negative character traits that have come to my attention for correction. If the comment is untrue, knowing the way God made me helps me remember that the untrue stuff doesn’t change anything—and I’ve been able to move past it more quickly, without taking it personally.
Prayerfully working your way through issues like this sometimes takes patience and practice, but you’re on the right track, simply because you want to think differently. Consider trying this approach if you find yourself feeling concerned about what others might be thinking. What about stopping those thoughts in their tracks and asking God what He’s knowing about you instead? You can do this by saying “no” to the negative thoughts that make you feel misunderstood or unseen, and then, in the stillness that follows, listening for God’s loving messages. What you hear from God will show you more clearly than ever before just how wonderful you really are.