THE CRIPPLING WEIGHT OF OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS
I have found that the most profound form of healing is self-love and acceptance. These energies forge such deep-rooted confidence that even the strongest wind/nay-sayer cannot topple you. Yes, this may seem obvious, but like myself I have seen others look on the outside for this healing & acceptance.
It hasn’t always been easy for me to be creative and self-expressed. I do enjoy the creative process, but I sometimes put a lot of weight on how that contribution will be received. As if the worth depends on if others find it valuable. Isn’t that what we are taught in economics? Supply & Demand. Price is affected by both factors.
In that world and mindset, the power is in the consumer. And if I (or you) link self-value to the contribution then we are in for a world of hurt. The consumer not only defines the worth of the product but also the self because we have now linked the two.
It hasn’t been easy for me as a recovering people pleaser. I have spent years of my life reading the room and the people in it to find the most powerful person. Whether that be a teacher, father-figure, authority, someone I look up to or even worse, my abuser or bully.
This shows up as me looking for the person in the room who has the biggest threat over me and then trying to figure out what they want from me and how I could be of value to them.
Note: this is the person I believed to be a threat, not necessarily that they were a threat. This was built off my own perception of them. The power I gave to them and the power they had over me.
I have found myself dimming my light in different business partnerships because if I would get any hint or sense that they didn’t like something I was creating, doing, teaching, saying I would pull back – I would cease and desist.
For example, I remember observing myself one time when Bella and I were hosting a zoom meeting and I found myself looking over at her screen to see how she was receiving what I was saying. And if I got a head nod, I would continue. If she looked bored or emotionless, I would stop looking at her and fumble around until I was able to wrap up what I was saying.
I can trace this wound back to 5th or 6th grade. I was running for ASB president and I was actually very well liked in the school. Many people knew me and I assumed I had this president bit in the bag. I have always been verbose and I usually have a lot to share. Well, I wrote a speech (it was quite long) and was very proud of the promises I was making. I spent a lot of time crafting my speech.
When it came time to get on stage, I was a little nervous but also excited. I took a deep breath and started my speech – people listened intently. I could actually feel them rooting for me and excited for what I was sharing. However, there was a moment in the speech where I took a pause and the entire auditorium started to clap, thinking I was finished. The room roared. AND I CONTINUED. I did not stop. I had a speech to finish, so I kept going.
I may not have felt done, but unfortunately, everyone else in the room was finished listening. Kids started to fidget and faces started to look bored. I was losing them and something inside me just kept going. Just kept reading. I felt their restlessness and read faster. When i finished, the room of people clapped their required clap and the moment was over. It fell flat. I should have stopped while I was ahead.
The boy after me was well known too and his speech was short, sweet and he ended with double peace signs. The room clapped loudly. It wasn’t anything super special. Just succinct and to the point. That was valuable to a room of kids who wanted this whole ordeal to be over so they could be released to recess or lunch.
On the day the results were announced, I was in a nervous sweat – my palms soaking. I recanted the lack of impact my long speech had, but still trusted my popularity might get me the seat. The names were announced one by one. I listened intently. When it came to announce the president I held my breath. It didn’t win. I tasted sweet defeat that day. I did get some consolation role in ASB, but I can’t even remember what it was as it was not the one I wanted.
It was that moment that at some level I realized what I had to offer was not valuable to the student body. In the grand scheme of things, it was my expression and long-winded speeches that were not appreciated. Here I began developing my skill for reading the room to find what others WANTED me to say, not what I wanted to say.
Even looking back at what I wrote here is causing a little agitation and distress in me. A part of me thinks, “this is long.”
“There is a lot here. Is it all necessary?”
“Will anyone get to the end of this?”
“Will they get bored and lose interest?”
This narrative comes from the part of me who lost the ASB election because I had a long speech.
This part of me thinks,
“What do my readers want to hear?”
“Do I dare trust what wants to be expressed?”
“Maybe this is all for me and only for me.”
“Maybe I want to share with others just to be witnessed.”
AND THAT’S ALL OKAY. However, stifling expressions is not okay.
I have put myself into a pattern of self-betrayal and agony that left me feeling constricted and completely unexpressed. As if I was playing a supporting role in someone else’s movie and I needed to learn the script ASAP so that I could fit into their movie. Or that I was a salesperson trying to find the right pitch for a specific person or group.
What was the cost of being liked, received and accepted? What lengths would I travel to never feel unchosen?
Can you relate?
It seems to me that all of this overthinking just spoils the magic of the expression, right? But we do it. I do it, too. I bet you can track where you were reading this intently and where things started to get uncomfortable.
Usually when doubt comes into the writer/reader/expresser we start to lost trust in them. Why? Because they are losing trust in themselves.
When you have confidence and passion in your expression, it is palpable.
We should speak because we MUST, not because we should or because we want to. We speak/write/move/act because there is something profound moving through us wanting to be performed. We create with our words and actions because we are creators. We are actors. We have our own set of lines and script that we are reading, writing and performing at the same time.
Things get muddled when we devalue our own story and start reading the lines of another. It is beautiful to want to cocreate with someone, but not at the cost of your own expression and experience. Speak your lines. Be the leading actor.
If you said it, it’s because it needed to be said. It may have been for you only, but the act of articulation had an effect on you and maybe the other.
Spoken word is an artform. Written word is an artistic process.
I am grateful I am typing to completion. I am grateful I spoke to completion during the ASB speech because I have learned so much because of it. I wrote it, was proud of it and I wanted to express it. And as I am writing this it WILL be posted because I want it to be seen.
I want to be seen. I want to be heard. Not because I want to be accepted, but because I want to share my art with you. Because I want to bring my insides out. I want to create in this world.
The medicine is in the expression. It is in the long-winded epilogues.
I am not writing this for the comments. I am not writing this for the conversions. I am writing this to give myself and YOU permission to release the weight of other people’s opinions.
The one that matters most is your own.
I am proud to have a place to post my musings. I am proud of my musings. I also HOPE that it touches some place deep within you that longs to be expressed and can now have permission to surface. I look forward to witnessing your expression as a result.
If you would like to join me and others as we cultivate our unique expression and release the weight of other’s opinions I would be honored to provide access to our Spark of Creativity container.
Use code CREATOR for 50% off your first month inside the Inner Circle (Spark of Creativity is offered inside the Inner Circle membership)
Thank you. This strikes home.
I am glad to be with good company on this journey back to wholeness. I am amazed how often I have fragmented and hid myself in the past, but with awareness I can do better. For me and for others. We are meant to be self-expressed. I hope you’ll join me on this journey back home to wholeness. <3
I write reasonably long too. It’s the way it comes naturally and authentically out. I judged it at times because I often don’t read long posts and I know other people don’t read long posts. Then I realised, I do read long posts, if they speak to me. I wrote a long-ish post the other day. Someone commented. “This post feels so familiar. I don’t usually read long posts but I clearly had to read this one till the end. Love it!” Like you, I learned that this is my own unique expression and it doesn’t matter what it looks… Read more »
Thank you. I agree about the energy package more than the words!
Oh woman, this is RIGHT ON! Definitely resonates. Thank you for daring. Big virtual hug to you <3
PS: and ALSO thank you for all of your team-work here, very inspiring!
Thank you Ashley, for being you and sharing with us, always! For sparking creativity within and without us, showing us a way.
Your uniqueness is a precious gift, thank you for sharing it with us and for teaching (reminding) us our own uniqueness. May you always be seen and received with an open heart <3
Thank you with all my heart, Ophelie.