Other People's Opinions Are Not Your Burden to Carry

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This post is part of the Let it Go Project: a collection of stories leading up to a beautiful releasing ritual, hosted by Sas Petherick on the 30th of January. All the details for this free event are here. And you can take part! Be inspired by other posts in this project, and share what you are ready to let of of on the Let it Go Project Community Page!*taps mic, clears throat* Hi, my name is Hannah and I am a recovering people-pleaser.As someone who has a core value of "freedom", this is an aspect of myself that I find hard to accept. I want to think of myself as independent and self-sufficient yet, at the same time, part of me really really wants to be liked. So much so, that although "truth" is another core value, I still struggle with prioritising being liked over being real.This doesn't just apply to people I like: even if I can't stand someone, I don't want them not to like me.Recently, I've been working out where I sit with this issue; I don't want to be misanthropic, but I do want boundaries. I don't want to be a lone wolf, but I do want to honour my core values. I don't want to be mean, but I do want to be real.And through this process, I've realised: "being a people pleaser" or "not being a people pleaser" isn't a state of being or destination, it's something that evolves and shifts moment by moment, based on how we show up in each situation and interaction we encounter.A couple of weeks ago, I had an experience that validated this realisation. It was a pretty ordinary experience but, coming from where I'm coming from, it opened up a world of letting go: letting go of guilt, letting go of other people's opinions, beliefs and projections, and letting go of the idea that I need to be either real or liked.My partner and I had gone to Sayulita (aka my favourite place on Earth) for the weekend to chill out after an exhausting week. We sat on a quiet part of the beach, him listening to an audiobook and me reading. A hippy-looking guy with long hair, and a young kid in tow, approached us, holding out a pair of ear buds. He asked us whether we wanted to listen to some music and, wanting to get back to my book, I declined.Him: "It's from Sayulita..."Me: "No thanks, I'm good."Him: "You don't like music? You don't even want to try it?"Me: "I do like music, but not right now, thank you."Him: "Where are you guys from?"Me: "England."Him: "England? Well... you know, maybe you need to open your minds and try new things. Nice people, they open their minds, they try new things. Maybe you need to open your heart first, then you can open your mind. Something to think about."Nice people, they open their minds, they try new things.Maybe you need to open your heart first, then you can open your mind.Beneath his words, I heard:You're closed-minded and closed-hearted. You are not nice.That hit a nerve; being open-minded and open-hearted are qualities that are important to me. As for nice, I could feel my inner people-pleaser's guilt-tinged protest rising up "But I do have an open mind! And an open heart! I'm a very open-minded and open-hearted, nice person. Really!"But I didn't say anything. I noticed that internal protest, noticed its intention, noticed that old pattern, and also noticed the part of me saying "Who is this guy anyway? Let it go..."So I sat and waited while he repeated that maybe we needed to open our minds, open our hearts, and how nice people do that, all with a little smile on his face. And I noticed what it felt like, all the sensations rolling around inside me.After we said nothing and he left, I relaxed. With that relaxation came understanding and, with that, release.I can experience that part of me that wants to be liked, and just sit with it.I can hear someone's expectation and choose not to fulfil it.My responsibility is to myself; how people respond to me is theirs.and,It doesn't matter if someone thinks I'm closed-hearted, closed-minded, and not nice: Other people's opinions of me are not my burden to carry. (tweet this)This is what letting go, and change in general, is about. It's not about reaching a place in our journey, arriving at a state of being, or approaching a fixed point of permanence.Letting go is a process that happens moment by moment and decision by decision. What will your decision be today?letitgo_badge  Photo Credit: Camdiluv ♥ via Compfight ccIllustration: Kristin Noelle