How to Prevent Others’ Opinions from Dictating Your Life

I recently read a book that I LOVED (Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert). While doing some market research, I decided to view the comments others left about the book. There were plenty of 5-star reviews raving about what a wonderful book it was. There were also some 1 and 2-star reviews that could be pretty brutal. Not personally attacking, but seriously tough, like, “Shallow. I expected more unique ideas, interesting takes.” When I look at critiques like that, I wonder how difficult it is for the author to read them. While I imagine she is comforted by the majority of positive comments, it still must sting to receive such negative reviews.

A lesser person might never write again after reading tough reviews, especially if those reviews are the majority. While few of us receive such direct feedback on our contributions, we do, in fact, receive feedback repeatedly, and we store this information. This is often why people don’t try new things. They have seen what happens in life when things are done “wrong”, and don’t want to be that person. Yet, that person, the one who is not motivated by the critical reviews of others, but by their own inner joy and sense of accomplishment, is most certainly living a more fulfilling, happy life.

If you would like to start enjoying a more fulfilling, happy life, you are going to have to seek out your cup of motivation from within rather than from what the masses pour you. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Don’t Over-Value Feedback from Others – Consider what others think, but true authentics do not allow others to dictate their path, journey, or what they contribute to the world. You can take some of the points, particularly if you’re hearing a lot of the same things, and see if this is an area you want to work on. It’s ultimately your call.
  • Measure the Success of Your Contributions Internally – Success is determined by YOU. Not by how much money you make, or how many likes you get, or any other external measurement. If it brings you joy and you’re happy with your contribution, consider it a success.
  • Negative Feedback has Nothing to Do with You – One of my favorite quotes is, “What others think of you is none of your business.” Negative feedback from others gives a glimpse at their preferences and perspectives and has nothing to do with yours. Just because I don’t like olives, doesn’t mean the olive farmer should stop growing them.
  • Our Contributions Do Not Always Equate to Money – Do not shackle what you love to do with making money. If you’re one of the lucky people, you will make money doing what you love, but that isn’t a requirement. Of course we have to make money to live First World lifestyles, but that doesn’t mean all our contributions need to make money. Separate the two if necessary. You can enjoy your job and love creating stained glass art even if you don’t make money from it.

If we all edited our contributions to try to please everyone, we’d be left with nothing – which is often, exactly what people do. They do nothing so they can avoid any critical reviews. In doing so, however, they have robbed themselves of doing something that brings them joy. I love to sing in the car. I’m not bad, if I do say so myself, but I won’t be winning any middle-aged American Idol competitions. I’m sure if you polled the people in cars around me while I belted out the new Rihanna song, Love on the Brain, you’d find some haters. But fortunately, I’m not singing to get discovered, or make money, or impress anyone. I’m singing because I enjoy it. That’s it. The haters are just going to have to roll their windows up.

Okay, so you’ve learned I don’t like olives and like to sing in my car. What about you? What do you enjoy? What’s something you love doing simply because it brings you, and maybe others, joy? Share in the comments section.

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  1. I really like this.. and it is so true. As a retired people pleaser, it was not long ago I figured out I was much happier the sooner I stopped investing in less than constructive feedback. It was so liberating to focus on what I needed to do and enjoy it as well!

  2. April, this is so timely, I can’t thank you enough ❤

  3. Angela Sargeant says:

    Fabulous post April! It is incredibly scary putting yourself ‘out there’, and I find it especially an issue with women in business. It’s so sad that many do nothing in order to avoid criticism, who knows what talents we may be missing out on. I love that you said negative criticism has nothing to do with us and that it “gives a glimpse at their preferences and perspectives”. p.s. I like olives 😉

    • Thanks Angela! You are so right…all that untapped potential we are all missing out on when others are led by the external opinions. Thanks for commenting (and providing further evidence that olive farmers should NOT close up shop just because I don’t like olives!!) 🙂

  4. Oh Darling April, woman you have done it again! Spread such wisdom and motivation to so many—especially me! I love this quote, and it’s now going to be my newest mantra: “What others think of you is none of your business.” I am a nurturer and a people-pleaser though I work on that, believe me. I love your way with words, and you are simply awesome…and thought that is my opinion and not linked to your self-worth, I hope you take it as icing on your amazing cake and welcomed gifts.

    I love baking cakes and pies for people for no other reason then I believe everybody deserves a homemade cake to bring a smile to their day.

    • I’m so glad this resonated with you, Jul’s!! Thank you for the “icing” on my cake, you are very sweet!! Never underestimate the power of a baked good!! I have an elderly neighbor who thanks us for helping out with homemade pies…I’m pretty sure we’re making out in the deal! They really do brighten our day. You keep baking and spreading the love, Jul’s – there is no doubt it is appreciated!! <3

  5. “What others think of you is none of your business” is also my favorite quote. To be ourselves and find the joy from within is very hard, and e are not born to be this way. However, I have realized that even we try hard to become dance monkey for others we will not receive any validation, so It is better to live our own life and work on develop our full potential than doing nothing to avoid criticism.

    • SO many good nuggets in your response, Erin!! Dance Monkey is such an appropriate description! Thank you for sharing your perspective!!

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