Most People Hardly Know Themselves, So Why Should It Matter What They Think Of You?

Someone’s Opinion Of You Needn’t Become Your Reality

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others, we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

How do you respond when someone criticises you? Do you become angry or upset? Are you constantly asking others for advice, even though you know the answer? I hope you’ll take a moment and think carefully through your answers because this isn’t about judgement of oneself but knowing yourself better. There’s nothing wrong with asking people for advice, but ultimately, we must make our own informed decisions, in line with what is best for us.

Here’s the thing: when other people’s judgement of us, become our reality, we have relinquished our personal power. That is, by believing their opinions it stains our mood negatively. We become convinced their opinion is fact, where it is just one view. No one can tell you more about yourself than the person reading this article right now, even if you have made mistakes in the past. It requires learning from your mistakes and vowing not to repeat them. Understandably, criticism offends most people because they allow other’s opinions to decide their fate. But having coached hundreds of people over the years and worked with large organisations, I’m yet to meet someone who claims to know themselves on a deeper level.

Most people skim over the surface of who they think they are and apply a blanket judgement to others. So, if your employer believes you cannot move up within the organisation, it is merely an opinion, not a fact. Does this resonate with you? Are you willing to consider that other people’s judgement of you is not carved in stone? For instance, in my final year of secondary school, the school counsellor advised me to quit and pick up a trade. They felt my grades did not reflect someone capable of finishing my education, let alone gaining a degree. I not only completed high school, but finished a degree which I graduated with high distinction.

In fact, my school counsellor’s judgement of me prompted me to study harder and employ a tutor in my final year of school. I did not let this person’s opinion of me define my future. I took it into my own hands and decided how my future would play out. I’ve experienced similar situations throughout my adult life. For instance, there was the swim instructor who advised me to quit swim lessons because I didn’t have the capability to become a competent swimmer. Nowadays, I swim 3 – 4 times per week and cover 2.5 km (1.5 miles) or more in each session with good technique. You see, every time someone had an opinion of me, it became a turning point to create an empowering future. These people became my teachers, insofar as they invited me to become a greater version of myself.

Make Informed Choices Based On Who You Wish To Become

“You are not the victim of the world, but rather the master of your own destiny. It is your choices and decisions that determine your destiny.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Is this something you’ve experienced? Can you recall a parent, a boss, or someone else who tried to define you based on your abilities? I admit it’s difficult to get past the hurt and judgement. But here, we must decide whether we allow this person’s opinion of us to become our reality or uphold our self-worth. I’m not suggesting it is easy because judgement and criticism can strike at the core of our being. Similarly, it can become a turning point where, instead of relinquishing our self-worth to others, we decide who we want to be. In other words, these moments become central to our personal development and strength of character.

To take this idea a step further: I’ve observed that those who claim to know themselves well, is often incomplete. As a result, I pay attention to whether a person’s communication is in alignment with their actions. You see, we can tell a lot about ourselves through our mistakes, especially if we are willing the embrace the lessons gained from them. For example, I’ve coached people who repeatedly make the same mistakes, even when the guidance is clear. In contrast, I’ve coached individuals who learn from their mistakes and use them as turning points for personal growth, change, and transformation. What I’m trying to say is that each person is on a unique journey and we cannot judge a person by their level of growth, education, age, or life experience. Each individual is bound by their internal clock based on their level of awareness. This is a sentiment echoed by the late motivational speaker Jim Rohn, who said: “People would do better, if they knew better.”

Are you resonating with the ideas expressed so far? Can you appreciate that most people hardly know themselves, let alone are in a position to have an opinion of you? I hope this message permeates your consciousness because understanding this has the potential to change what you think of yourself. It can change the way you live because no one outside of you can define you, irrespective of your mistakes. It requires a shift in attitude and refusing to surrender your power to those external to you. It involves reclaiming your power and using it judiciously to make informed choices, congruent with the person you wish to become.

Considering this, I invite you to reflect on someone’s judgement or opinion of you in recent times. It may be a boss, your partner, a family member or a friend. Ask yourself the following questions by journaling your answers or reflecting on their meaning:

  1. Is this true?
  2. How can I be certain their opinion of me is true?
  3. What evidence is there to support their opinion?
  4. Am I willing to see things differently?

I’m inviting you to undertake the process of self-enquiry, so other people’s judgement of you does not affect your self-worth. Ultimately, most people hardly know themselves, show it shouldn’t matter what they think of you. The only thing that matters is the opinion of oneself and that is something we must hold in high regard.

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