Living a bold, beautiful life where we are is more possible than it's ever been. But, there will be people who disagree with you once you stand for something.
We have to learn how to manage the feedback we get in a productive way. If we seek too much approval of our choices, it is easy to become discouraged and confused.
When we put our best work out into the world, anonymous commenters and trolls online aren't the only critics we have to worry about. Our family and friends can also negatively effect our success. We have to learn how to acknowledge but distance ourselves from their opinions too.
I've always had the tendency to be too aware of what others think. In a lot of situations this perceptiveness has helped me easily connect with people. But, I've also gone through multiple phases where I felt trapped by trying to make others happy.
There are some people who don't seem to struggle with any sort of self-consciousness at all. They do what they want without thinking too much about it. As wonderful as this trait can be in today's world, not noticing how others are affected by your behavior isn't ideal either.
We've got to find our own ways to balance between self-awareness and action. Here are some ideas:
- Learn to see criticism and praise as feedback about the other person. - You can notice criticism and praise but see it only as feedback about that person's experience. Tara Mohr does an excellent job of talking about this in her book Playing Big.
- Focus on intrinsic instead of extrinsic motivators. - What is this action really about for you? Find a higher purpose in the risk you're taking.
- Break some unspoken social rules on purpose -just to see what happens. Most of the time no one will react at all.
- Keep your fragile, new ideas private for a while. - When it's time to share them with family and friends, put some effort into selling your ideas like you would with a client. Help them to understand your vision and why this is important to you. You're better off with all the support you can get.
- Experiment with your personal style. - Fashion is an easy way to express yourself everyday. Wear something loud in public that you love. Get a bold haircut. Most people will respond positively to these small risks or won't say anything.
- Grow your skills and knowledge. - This will make you more confident to try new things.
- Let yourself fail. - You either succeed or you learn something. Often times, learning is more valuable.
When we speak up and behave in ways aligned with our values, some people might not get it. But, there is freedom that comes from not caring so much about their opinions. Thriving anywhere depends on daily courage.