Do you ever worry about what others think of you? If so, do you let your fear of what other people think about you affect the decisions you make day to day?
Up until my daughter was born, I used to constantly worry about what people thought of me – both at work with my boss and colleagues and at home with my friends and family.
I worried about whether the people around me had a good opinion of me; whether my boss thought I was doing well at work; whether my friends thought I was a good friend or not; whether people were secretly gossiping behind my back; whether I’d offended anyone without realising – the list goes on.
I used to spend a lot of time trying to please other people for fear of giving out the ‘wrong impression’. In fact, I’m reminded of a post I wrote recently about how I nearly got into debt for a friend’s wedding – this was pretty much down to being worried about what my friend would think of me if I said I couldn’t attend.
These days, thankfully, I worry much less about all that sort of stuff as my daughter keeps me grounded in my priorities most of the time but occasionally, I let my ‘worry head’ get the better of me.
A casual comment opened a can of worms
The other day, a friend came over to my house – actually she’s more of an acquaintance rather than a friend, as I only really know her from a mum’s and toddlers play group. I don’t think she was being nosy or anything like that but she happened to notice that the bottom of our sofa was torn and some of our curtains were quite badly frayed on the ends.
She commented about them and so I explained that our dog had been the culprit when he was a puppy. For some reason, I felt the need to then say that we would be replacing them at some point in the future. I didn’t mention that this would be when the debts are paid off and when we’ve saved up enough money to feel comfortable parting with a certain amount for a new sofa and curtains. She didn’t need to know all that.
This friend responded seemingly innocently that it’s a pity we can’t replace them now so that we don’t have to look at them like that in their current state.
‘Weeeoooeeeooo’ – Paranoia Alert!
My brain almost instantly translated those words into “How can you live with scruffy furniture and ripped curtains? You must be either flat broke or maybe you just like living like this? Where’s your sense of pride, style, etc etc?” I’d taken my friend’s words and turned them into a negative opinion that she’d formed of me in all of about 5 seconds.
And so I allowed a few unnecessary emotions to rise to the surface. I felt sad and fed up that we don’t have the means to replace these items right now and also a bit paranoid about what this person (who I don’t know all that well) might be thinking of me. After all, I have
many certain items in my home not including the two mentioned here which are more than a bit worse for wear.
In addition I started feeling bad about myself for being in a position at the age of 33 where I’m having to pay off my debts rather than keeping my home in tip top condition and doing bigger and better things with my free cash. I worried about what this person would think of me if she knew about all our debt troubles and general financial woes.
Worse still – and I hate to say this – I experienced a spark of jealousy at the thought of other people being able to just nip out and buy new sofas and curtains whenever they felt like it.
All hail the voice of reason
Luckily, these crazy rogue emotions didn’t last for very long. I managed to get a grip of myself shortly after my friend went home. I’m not the most house-proud person these days I have to admit. I have a 3 year old daughter and a large excitable dog – things do (and will continue to) get wrecked!
Then I thought about this situation quite simply. The unsightly objects in question here are a sofa and curtains. Something to perch on and drapes for the windows. In the grand scheme of things, they aren’t that important, they are just home furnishing objects and they still function.
Having a moment of clarity is so welcome sometimes. I realised that even if the hubby and I had no debts, we wouldn’t be running out and buying a new sofa and curtains just like that. When the debts are gone, we’ll have more important things to spend our money on like saving up for a deposit for a house and making sure we’re putting more cash away for retirement. Although new sofas and curtains would be nice, they are at the bottom of our list of priorities right now because they’re not actually going to help us achieve what we want to achieve!
Finally, I thought about what people (friends, family or acquaintances) might think about us, having things in our home that are worn out or very much used. Or what they might think about us not having new clothes or a nice new shiny car. Or what some people would think if they knew about our lengthy relationship with debt. I think I can safely surmise that some people might have an opinion on things like this and some people won’t give two hoots!
Of those people that have an opinion, they might well be assuming that we don’t have money to spare for items like this or that we just don’t care enough to have pride in our home, in our dress sense or even that we’re happy to drive an old car. Such assumptions might lead to them forming a negative opinion or even them feeling pity towards us.
And with those people in mind, I asked myself this:
Does it matter what these people think of us, our home, our car or our clothes? Really?
The answer of course is ‘no’. Because it really doesn’t matter what they think. It won’t change anything. People judge other people and form opinions about them every day. It doesn’t mean that they even care all that much!
The fact is that allowing ourselves to worry about what others think about us, just hinders us most of the time. In my situation, I’ve accepted that this person might have formed an opinion of me which perhaps isn’t what I would have liked, but I can’t and won’t let my emotions rule my head on this.
Because doing that won’t help the hubby and I get to where we want to be. We just have to carry on doing what we’re doing and keep our personal and financial goals at the forefront of our minds, where we need them to be. If people form a opinion which is good, great. If it’s a bad opinion of us, well that’s all fine and dandy too. I’ll probably never know for sure what people really think of us anyway!
In case you sometimes worry about what others think of you, you might find this article interesting from LifeHacker: How to Stop Giving a F*ck What People Think.
Can you relate to this? Do you spend time worrying about what others think about you?
*Image courtesy of Flickr