I have a few friends who I think are amazing people. Well, to be clear, all my friends are amazing people (duh) but there are a few who demonstrate what it really means to be comfortable in their own skin and I’ve always admired that. These friends I’m thinking of–they’re smart, funny, strong, busy, stylin’ and pretty, and they’re also tons of fun to be around. Who wouldn’t want friends like that?
There’s something else pretty remarkable about these women.
They don’t care what other people think about them.
I mean, it matters what some people think—their families and friends mostly. But it’s the haters (we’ve all got ‘em) they don’t give a second thought to.
The haters are those people who think we need to know that they don’t like our weight or our sunny disposition, or the job we chose, or the way we parent, or whatever. Haters are people who just can’t be happy for us but are usually looking for ways to bring us down a notch. Those people? Well, my friends completely disregard them. Seriously, I’ve seen it and they spend exactly zero percent of their energy on them.
I’ve decided it is a fabulous life skill–Ignore the Haters.
Hopefully you’ve heard the saying, “The people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind. “
Those are words to live by. And some people really do.
But how? For the most part, most of us care (sometimes too much) what others think of us. We seem to be hard-wired that way. Life coach Martha Beck has an interesting solution that I think makes good sense.
Beck says we operate under the constant scrutiny of an imaginary audience that sociologists call our “generalized other” which is actually based on a “mental magnification” of just a few people (often the most judgmental people we know) but “we subconsciously project their opinions onto the entire global population.”
That sounds exhausting, but we do it.
Beck calls the generalized other our Everybody Committee—“everybody” in our imagination who is judging or expecting something from us. If we live to please the Everybody Committee, we aren’t living authentically because we’re living to please them.
Her solution is to re-create our Everybody Committee. Here’s how.
Figure out who really would judge you and realize you need to kick them to the curb. Those people don’t matter. Next, decide who treated you with respect and kindness when you were little; somebody who made/makes you feel understood and make them the chair of your new committee. This person can be alive or dead because it’s not an in-real-life sitting committee, if you know what I mean. They’re a construct of your own making.
Then, choose additional “like-minded souls” similar to yourself (people you actually know, authors you read, people from history, people you don’t know but admire–it could take a little time to get this right) and believe that these people represent the entire global population instead.
Finally, connect with your new committee every day for 90 days. Beck says she borrowed the idea from AA. Apparently, recovering alcoholics are encouraged to attend 90 meetings in 90 days because it helps them remake their social network.
She says the way to connect, rather than by attending meetings (since some of your peeps aren’t even alive), is by “reading, watching, Facebooking, or physically interacting with your new, loving, accepting, encouraging Everybody Committee.” If you admire an author who lifts you up, read her work regularly. I read Brene Brown all the time–three of her books are on my nightstand. If you want to be like a famous coach or speaker, watch interviews they’ve done. Send a Facebook message to somebody new you want to meet. Periodically I send notes to public people I don’t know but admire, usually to say thanks for creating something or offering a discount on their work or something like that. I don’t expect anything back but when those people I admire send an email back I feel like I got a birthday present! Spend time with your friends who encourage you. Maybe that means asking your closest sibling for a pep talk.
90 days is a lot of time, but the idea is to purposefully, regularly spend time with people (or something about those people) who lift you up. That’s the key–to be lifted up.
When you do, you’ll feel more confident about yourself, no matter what situation you’re in. You’ll start to ignore the haters too because you’ll know they’re not worth your energy.
I’m pretty sure my friends haven’t gone through a process like Beck lays out, but it’s clear they’ve trained themselves similarly, whether consciously or unconsciously. They’ve definitely learned to oust their inner and outer critics and live in harmony with themselves and the people in their lives who matter the most.
They know the difference between the people who mind (the generalized other) and the people who matter (their true friends). We should all figure out who those people are in our lives.
Brene Brown explains understanding the difference. She wrote, “Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.” Such a great lesson!
Nothing feels better than feeling great about yourself. Do you have a supportive Everyday Committee? What do you do to silence the inner critics, ignore the haters and feel great about yourself every day?