HOW TO FIRE YOUR ITTY-BITTY ICKY COMMITTEE
After attending her first pole-dancing class, Abby posted about it on social media. She shared a beautiful selfie where she was smiling and described it as the most intense workout of her life.
Within a few minutes, Abby received a phone call from another woman in her life, berating her for her choice. She told Abby that because she was pole dancing, she was setting a poor example for her teenage daughter and encouraging women to be objectified.
Abby was shocked that her friend responded so harshly. For a few days, she felt guilty and embarrassed about what she’d done. She removed the post from social media and vowed to herself that she wouldn’t return to any future classes.
Sometimes in life you’ll make a choice, and everyone will agree with you. In those moments, it seems as if the whole world is in harmony with your new path. But those moments are rare and often you’ll find others who are eager to weigh in on all the reasons your latest choice is a bad idea.
From now on, let’s call this collection of people your “itty-bitty icky committee.” I know some of you are already replacing ‘icky’ with another word – go ahead. It’s ok.
Ironically, a flock of vultures is called a committee.
These are the people that spew ick on everything you do and try to make you feel like a jerk when you call them out on their bad behavior.
Now, you can go through systematically removing these people from your life (and you may be better off without a few of them in your circle), but there’s a deeper truth here and it’s important you grasp it: there will always be people in your life that disagree with your choices.
The trick isn’t breaking off all contact with the voices of dissent. It’s learning how to stop caring what they think. Don’t let their judgment affect you. After all, if you don’t care about their opinions and their judgments, then they have no more power over you and you’re free to live your life in a way that works best for you.
But first, there’s a deeper question you should be asking. This question can give you a lot of insight into why you put so much stock in the opinions of others and what you can do to break free from this habit.
Why Do You Care What Others Think?
Sometimes, caring what others think can be a good thing. it might keep you from making a tactless remark at that work party or wearing legwarmers like you’ve stepped out of a workout video from the eighties.
But more often than not, caring what others thinks holds you back from going after the dreams, passions, and goals that would really fulfill you. So, why do you hold back and more importantly, what can you do about it?
Humans are social creatures. We are driven to find those we “belong to”. Everyone craves a tribe that understands and supports them. They want to find their people and be accepted for who they are. From a survival standpoint, this instinct makes sense. After all, you’re more likely to survive in a group than you are if you’re just on your own.
But when you let the tribe around you dictate what’s acceptable and what’s not, you cease to be the amazing, independent, creature you are.
Instead, you become a dull and boring, carbon-copy of the rest of your people. This can lead you to make choices that aren’t right for you but are right in the eyes of your tribe. For example, maybe in your family the only thing to do after college is to find a well-paying job and get married. But you long to travel the world and live a nomadic lifestyle.
If you listen too closely to your tribe, you may find yourself doing what they want. You’re afraid if you don’t, you’ll lose your standing and be viewed as an outsider. You’d rather watch your dreams slowly die than risk being shunned by your people.
For some, caring what others think is driven by perfectionism. You might think that your life must appear perfect in order for you to find the love and acceptance you ache for. So, you work hard to keep things looking good on the surface.
The problem with being driven by perfectionism is that it’s exhausting. It means that you’re only as good as your last performance or your latest test score or your next pay raise. You define yourself—not by who you are—but by what you do. Me! Me! Me! This is the trap I fall into.
As a result, you spend a lot of your time worrying about what others think of you. This can cause you to put incredible pressure on yourself and on those you love. For example, you might pressure your teenager to excel at school so they can get into an Ivy League college and make you look good.
An approval addiction stems from the desire to be liked. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked. It’s a normal instinct and desire.
But when this desire goes awry, it creates chaos. You crave the approval of others like an alcoholic craves another drink. When you get a small taste of approval, you’re temporarily satisfied and feel good about yourself. But as soon as the latest “high” wears off, you’re chasing the approval of someone else all over again.
Sometimes, the person you need approval from may change throughout your life. For Mary, she always longed for approval from her narcissistic mother who could only say cruel things to her. Mary spent her entire life trying to earn her mother’s love.
When her mother died, Mary became good friends with another woman in her community. Over time, Mary found herself reliving the same dynamic with her new friend. She was always chasing this woman’s approval and trying to get the love she needed.
The problem with an approval addiction is that you can’t actually control another person. You can’t make your narcissistic mother go back in time and give you the love you needed or change your friend into a woman that genuinely cares about your best interests and approves of you.
A BLEND OF THE ABOVE
You might read the descriptions above and instantly know which motivation is driving your need to be liked by others. But there’s also a hidden fourth option—it’s possible that your motivation is a blend of the explanations above. You might have an approval addiction along with a tendency toward perfectionism.
Regardless of what your motivation is, don’t feel like you’re doomed. It’s entirely possible to fire your itty-bitty icky committee and build a wonderful life where you proudly stand up for yourself and your dreams.
THE PROBLEM WITH WAITING FOR APPROVAL
Before making a big decision or trying something new, do you find yourself waiting around? You feel paralyzed, like you can’t move forward without input from forty-seven different people even as your heart is screaming, “Yes, let’s take this wild, precious risk!”
The truth is it’s easy to get caught up waiting for approval before you make your next move—whether that’s changing career paths, taking up a new hobby, or starting that ministry you’ve always dreamed about.
Now, here’s why you need to say “forget it” to asking for feedback and just do what you want to do…
YOU NEVER GET TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
Having to wait for everyone else to get on-board often means that the goal never gets achieved. The deadline for turning in the paperwork passes while you wait for someone else to look over your report or the market goes in a new direction before you can release your amazing product.
The more people you have involved in a project, the longer it will take to complete it. This is a given in most cases. Yet for some reason, it’s tempting to complicate a new goal by trying to get more people involved. Maybe for you this is an attempt to self-sabotage or simply the result of poor self-esteem and difficulty trusting yourself.
YOU GET CAUGHT IN AN ENDLESS LOOP
Nancy wanted to release her new software to make it easier for parents to help their child learn to read. She’d specially tailored the software for parents of developmentally disabled children.
Once she was finished with the software, Nancy reached out to a few friends to help her fine-tune it. What she imagined only taking two weeks turned into seven months of exhaustive changes and huge overhauls.
The problem with seeking feedback when you want to go after a goal is that you can easily get pulled into an endless loop.
Suddenly, your project or goal takes on a life of its own as everyone else tries to impose their vision on your idea. By the time you’re done (if it gets finished!), the end result looks nothing like you imagined.
YOUR GROW ANGRY AND RESENTFUL
If you’re always trying to get approval from those around you, it’s easy to grow angry and resentful. You watch as your dream shifts further and further from you due to delays from others. You see how people redesign your idea to represent what they want.
The resulting anger and resentment can damage not only your end goal but your relationships, too.
You may find yourself becoming passive-aggressive in communications or you might abandon your new idea altogether.
YOU’RE ALWAYS DOUBTING YOURSELF
Perhaps the biggest and scariest problem with waiting for approval is you can get trapped in a cycle of self-doubt.
You’re constantly looking for someone else to tell you what to do. You can’t make a decision without knowing everyone agrees that it’s the right thing (spoiler alert: not everyone will agree).
The longer you stay stuck in self-doubt, the harder it is to move forward. You just get pulled further and further down, uncertain of why you can’t seem to make progress toward the life you dream of.
Now that you understand the pitfalls of waiting for approval, it’s time to boldly begin stepping forward into creating what you want. But first, it can be helpful to consider a few questions.
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Had to laugh “ITTY-BITTY ICKY COMMITTEE”, but then what you wrote was so good. Also… this is a beautiful looking site. Look forward to more from you!
Thank you for a wonderful and thought provoking read.
So true! I love your perspective on this.
Love this! The true key to happiness is definitely not caring what others think. Still give it your all but if someone doesn’t dig it, move on!
Wise words – sometimes you have to read something a few times to really let it sink it. Great read.
Great advice. Sometimes we forget that as long as we are doing our best, it should always be good enough!
Such wise words! I am practicing at caring a little bit less about what everyone thinks of me because I will never make everyone happy!
Well written! This could help so many people who struggle with seeking approval from someone else.
A flock of vultures – didn’t know that – I hope you don’t mind, I’m going to repeat that over and over and over – ….committee!
As I’ve started a blog this year I’ve learned that by opening myself up, I’m going to have to develop thicker skin. I’ve had some ups and downs, but I’d like to think I’m growing a little bit each day.
I love your name for the nay-sayers. This is so important and empowering, thank you for encouraging us to be our own selves!
Great information! A lot for me to think about. Thanks
I love this! You are so right! Why do I care so much what others think? I’m a bald woman and used to hide behind scratchy wigs and hot hats for everyone else’s comfort! Leading to depression because I wasn’t living my truth! Thusly adding to the damn problem! I love your writings and teachings and views! Keep it up!
For the longest time I was addicted to other people’s opinion of me. I did a lot of things I regret doing because I thought it would win approval. I am starting to learn I do not need to do that anymore!
This is such a great post and something I’ve always struggled with. The approval addiction section was eye opening!
Such good insight!! We need to be confident and convince others that we are happy in our choices and they may even be persuaded instead of making us doubt!
For big life decisions I have been told by so many people how they love that I just do whatever I want despite what other people say. Sometimes though it is to a point where I just do things out of spite, so I definitely have room to balance that back out.
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My mom was always trying to make everyone else happy, even though her decisions didn’t always make her happy. Making the decision to leave my dad led her to her second husband who spent the rest of his life making sure that her decisions were driven by her own happiness. She’s truly a different person now (and less stressed!)
Great points! Thanks!
Excellent post! And full of wisdom. I decided about ten years ago to stop being a people pleaser and forge my own paths and destiny. I’m so much happier not caring what other people think. I like the saying, “What other people think about me is none of my business.”
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[…] It’s normal to have a lot of people telling you different things when you’re in crisis mode. You may be talking with family members, friends, medical team members, or coworkers as you seek advice. Now, there’s certainly something to be said for getting input from outside voices so that you aren't blindly making decisions. At the end of the day, you are the one that has to live with those decisions. So, remind yourself that what you need is already within you. Remember the itty bitty icky committee. […]