Inevitably in life, we will face disapproval or rejection from others. It might be a family member, friend, employer, or even a stranger. They might disagree with the way we live our lives, the decisions we make for ourselves, or even who we are. They might belittle our dreams, criticize our goals, or make hurtful comments that reveal a low opinion of us. These experiences can be quite painful, because we all want to be liked and accepted. We all want to be supported and nurtured and loved by those around us.
Being rejected or ridiculed by others (especially if it’s a frequent occurrence) can cause us to question our own self-worth and value as a person. We begin to wonder if maybe they’re right. Maybe we’re not lovable enough, or talented enough, or “good” enough to be accepted. Following this line of thought for any length of time can be incredibly damaging to our self-confidence.
While it’s normal to have a few moments of uncertainty when we are rejected, the worst thing we can do is internalize the negativity we receive from others. Just because someone has a low opinion of us does not mean we have to accept it as our truth. They can only come to their conclusions by looking at us from the outside. They don’t feel our feelings, think our thoughts, or experience the things we have in our lives. They are seeing us from a completely different perspective than our own.
To complicate matters even further, their own life experiences, thoughts, and feelings can easily be projected onto us, so they may see something that doesn’t truly exist, except in their own mind.
So, how do we overcome this? How do we avoid letting other people’s negativity erode our belief in ourselves? There are three major points to keep in mind:
1) Reinforcement = Strength. Think of positive thoughts as the antidote to any negativity that comes your way. Feed your mind empowering, positive thoughts daily, preferably several times a day – and most especially after you encounter negativity from another. The stronger you can build up your belief in yourself, the less you will care about others who insult you, ridicule you, or reject you. You won’t be looking to others for your sense of validation or approval, because you will already have your OWN approval.
2) Conserve Your Energy. While it might be tempting to try to explain, defend, or prove yourself to someone who rejects you, this is usually a waste of your time and energy. Once someone forms an opinion of you, they are unlikely to change it. The more you try to change their minds, the more stubbornly they will dig their heels in and resist. So, simply release your need to prove yourself and accept that they are entitled to their opinions. Their comments and opinions cannot detract from your belief in yourself, unless you allow them to.
3) Limit Your Exposure. Once a person reveals their negative opinion or directs hurtful comments your way, you might want to avoid spending excessive time with them in the future. This becomes more difficult if it is a family member that you can’t just shut out of your life completely. But you can still set boundaries and limit the amount of time you are faced with negativity.
Finally, remember that no one else can define you, or live your life for you, or take away the beauty and uniqueness that is you. They may try, but they won’t be successful unless you allow it.
If you instead choose to turn away from the negativity and focus on building a solid foundation of belief in yourself, the negative comments will cease to matter to you. You will go on to create a fulfilling, successful life that reflects exactly who you are, regardless of what others say or do.