Are you too concerned about others’ opinion?
Elli Kalemtzaki, DVM, ICF Accredited Coach, NLP Certified Practitioner
Do you care too much about what other people are saying about you? I realized some time ago that this kind of concern was a major obstacle in creating success and fulfillment in my life. To find out if this is the case for you ask yourself if your choices are driven by what you truly wish or because you want other people’s respect or support. Do you choose your future career based on what you find most fulfilling? Will it really improve the quality of your life or just make you appear more successful? Are you maintaining a relationship because it makes you happy or because you are afraid of losing the comfort or status it provides. Are you really most afraid of being criticized by your friends if you decide to leave?
Fear of other people’s opinion is one of the most deeply rooted human fears. It’s not so long ago that if an individual was driven away from their tribe, it was a virtual sentence of death, because survival outside of the community was practically impossible.
And as neuroscientist Loretta Graziano Breuning has written in her book “Habits of a Happy Brain” we have inherited a brain that is focused on survival. You may not think you are focused on survival, but when you worry about not being invited to a party your survival brain sees the risk of social exclusion, which was a very dangerous threat for our ancestors.
Positive feelings are related to the production of certain chemical neurotransmitters. When we feel good our brain releases dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphin. Two of these neurotransmitters oxytocin and serotonin are related to social safety and status.
Oxytocin produces a feeling of safety and motivates us to trust others, to find comfort in their companionship. Serotonin produces a feeling of being respected by others. Fear of other people’s opinion is often related to the fear of losing the support of our social group, or the fear of losing our status and the respect of other people.
As Dr Graziano Breuning explains, each time we distance ourselves from the group, our oxytocin falls and reminds us of the threat of isolation. Similarly serotonin levels drop when we do not get the respect and recognition that we desire.
No wonder we are so concerned about what others think. Our mammalian brain perceives criticism and social rejection as life threatening situations and responds accordingly, believing it safer to comply with social norms.
But the question is: must we always be victims of our mammalian brain? Do we have to define who we are based on social stereotypes? Is our self-worth subject to fluctuations based on the positive or negative opinions of others?
Curiously, it seems the opinion of others often reflects our own opinion about ourselves. One of the first steps to freedom from the opinion of others, and a key to a more fulfilling life, is acceptance of ourselves exactly as we are, with our unique strengths and weaknesses, making decisions about the direction we choose based on our personal values and not on social stereotypes. In the process, we may be surprised to find that others too will readily accept who we are! We just need to challenge our mammalian brain, don’t we?
About the author
With 20 years in the veterinary industry and veterinary marketing and extensive experience in coaching and leading workshops across Europe, Elli is passionate about helping veterinary professionals break out of the busy trap, build a more profitable veterinary practice, improve relationships with clients and employees and enjoy a work life balance.
Elli is a graduate of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and holds a postgraduate degree in Public Health from the National School of Public Health in Athens, Greece. She is a Professional Coach accredited by the International Coach Federation since 2010 and a Certified Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic programming since 2012. Elli lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic since 2013. For more information about her work visit http://www.vetconsultancy.com/ or join VetConsultancy Facebook Group here VetConsultancy group