Why We Care About What THEY Think and How to Overcome It

Sometimes, even the most independent, self-assured and creative people can put our goals, dreams and passions on hold or give them up permanently because of a pesky, pervasive THEY issue. There is a strong voice in us that says something like:

What will THEY think?

THEY will think I am stupid, annoying, too big for my britches, etc.

THEY won’t understand or support me.

THEY will find fault with me, talk behind my back, try to make things difficult for me, etc.

THEY won’t love me anymore. I will lose them as friends, family, colleagues, etc.

Do you find that you predict and almost hear the reaction that THEY will have before you even attempt to fill them in on your plans or goals? Do you know exactly what they will say? Do you feel the wind going out of your sails? Can you picture the look of mockery or disappointment on their faces? Are these sensations and images draining and discouraging? If so, that is a bad case of the THEYs. Not a state of mind that you want to live with.

It is painful to be stuck, unable to gain momentum in life because our hearts and minds are mired with THEY thoughts. But what can we do about it? Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And, in most cases, no one has even overtly discouraged us. In some cases, we have not even mentioned our ideas to anyone. Still, an issue with the THEYs can cause us not to move forward with our ideas. We give up before we begin. We find ourselves not bothering. We talk ourselves out of things. We tell ourselves it is not worth the risk. We convince ourselves that we are being flighty, ditzy, overly ambitious, lazy, foolish or whatever adjectives we believe THEY will attribute to us.

The key to overcoming the THEY problem is to figure out who THEY really are or is. Is it the congregation at church, the ladies at work, Mom, Dad, our kids, our grade 7 teachers, our extended family, our spouse? Who do we imagine THEY to be? Is it an overtly opinionated friend? Is it people we went to high school with that we don’t even know anymore but are “friends” with on Facebook? In any case, THEY can feel elusive, apparent, ever-present and distant all at once. THEY can take us over.

Consider for a moment that THEY might not be as discouraging as we imagine. Or that, deep down, we don’t truly care what THEY might think. If this is the case, why then are we controlled and held back by thoughts of what THEY think? The answer might surprise you…

THEY, in reality, is YOU. Yes, YOU, everytime!

Even if there are people in your life that do not support your endeavours and are vocal about it, THEY are still YOU. They are reflecting back to you the ways in which you speak to yourself. They represent the ways in which you are:

Questioning yourself

Being unsupportive of your hopes and dreams

Feeling fearful of falling flat on your face OR being too successful (yes, we do fear that)

Bullying your heart

Judging your intentions

Belittling your enormous potential

It is all YOU! YOU. YOU. YOU.

Did you ever notice that some people in your life do not seem at all affected by or influenced by any THEYs. Do you suppose they don’t know any opinionated people? No. Do you suppose they don’t have people in their lives who give them a second thought? No. Do you suppose they are pretending they are not bothered by what THEY might think? Believe it or not, no! They don’t care what THEY think. It hardly crosses their minds!

What is different for them?

They love themselves. They speak to themselves with kindness and compassion. They trust in their soul and the inner guidance they receive. It does not mean they do not have a process of their own, and layers to work through, when finding the courage to try new things. They still feel the fear, apprehension and self-doubt. But, they do not suffer with the paralyzing notion of what will THEY think, say or do. These people are protected by their own sense of self-acceptance and self-respect. They don’t welcome input from others. They are not offended if someone might happen to comment negatively on their life choices. They might say something polite such as thank you for your perspective, and not give it a second thought.

They are not affected by outside influence, either imagined or experienced. Their point of reference is their own feeling toward what they may be dreaming of or planning on doing. Their guide is their instinct. They do not seek a sounding board. They don’t typically express uncertainty. They live with their emotions and allow the change to unfold, drama-free and internal conflict free.

How do we find this place for ourselves?

It starts with honesty. When I realized the truth of the THEYs, it rotted me. I could not comprehend how I could be so blind. And so I tried to console myself. No Asetha, you must be mistaken. There is no way you have been holding yourself back from all that is waiting for you inside your heart. You are too smart for that! The truth is, it has nothing to do with intelligence. We, as human beings, struggle with aspects of ourselves all the time, slipping in and out of unhelpful patterns. It is normal. The key is to notice and do something about it.

For most of my life, I was not bothered much with what THEY might think. But, after I spent years debilitated with Fibromyalgia, I had developed a wicked THEY issue. I was broken down. Because I had been sick, I lost my faith in myself. I figured I was being punished for being a bad person. I figured all the “healthy” people around me must know better and be more worthy. I listened less to my inner voice. I did not trust myself anymore. I imagined what THEY might suggest or think about most aspects of my life, and in many cases assumed they must be right, especially when it came to healing. I lost my way for a time.

When I realized what I was doing to myself, it was difficult to come to terms with the idea that I had become susceptible to my perceived opinions of others. But I had. I knew that I was wasting time caught up in it but was not sure how to escape. While following my own path had come naturally to me as a child and young adult, I was struggling with it as the years went on and I was healing from Fibromyalgia. But, the more I got honest with myself, the more I could see and accept that all those imagined or expressed THEYs were MEs in various disguises. The only way I could ever actually deal with them, and not be paralyzed, annoyed, frustrated and hurt by them, was to take responsibility for how I spoke to myself.

We have to recognize how hard we are on ourselves. And, that we are prone to projecting our own insecurities onto certain people in our lives; making them the bad guy. Often we are pre-empting a strike that may never happen. We must let go of what we think may happen and realize it is all an inner monologue stemming from our own tendency not to support our deepest desires.

It is also helpful not to share our plans, aspirations, and ideas with anyone until we know that we have sorted through our own issues and uncertainties. Often, it is self-sabotaging to open ourselves up to feedback, even from the most supportive of people, when we have not gone through the stages of creating change first. Change often starts with a new perception, and a deep desire. But before it can actually take root in our lives, there can be a lengthy period of incubation or percolation. That time is sacred and to be cherished. It is a fragile time when we either choose to embrace or abandon what we want for ourselves. We find satisfaction or disappointment before we have even begun.

If there is a voice in your head that always seems to get in the way of you becoming what you want to be or having the life you want to have listen carefully to it. Notice that it rides the wave of your own fears. Allow it to rise up. It cannot hurt you once you face and understand it. Trust that it is full of shit. Take your time dreaming and believing in your hopes. Monitor your thoughts – the helpful and unhelpful – and continue in the direction your heart pulls you.

As with any new understanding of how we operate, in our various complexities and abilities to delude ourselves, it is hard to pick the bones out of this particular lie. But, in time, as you stand back and notice how the THEYs basically confirm your own fears and doubts about the future, you will see it is all YOU. And, you will realize that you have a special kind of control. You can choose not to believe your thoughts and to follow your heart.

And just in case you still have trouble believing that all those difficult, judgmental people in your life are extensions of your own thoughts, just begin to take notice of your own thoughts anyway. As you learn to speak with tender love and care to you, you can watch as all those other voices fall away. You will be untouchable! Once we stop believing in our inner THEYs, those outer THEYs fall away. They really do.

To help you get in touch with the voice within that is truly yours and can easily guide you through this process of escaping the THEYs, finding contentment and expanding your confidence, book your SHINY SOUL SESSION with me today!

Love always,


  1. says

    Julie, we are on the same wavelength for sure!! 😀 LOVE IT! Thanks for reaching out with your blog posts. It is almost like having a heart to heart or soul to soul over the computer! I agree, until we have compassion for ourselves it is very difficult to know what we need and to ease our suffering. I was so hard on myself for so many years! Just finding that compassion for what I go through, day to day, has made all the difference in my life. And now, I get to be a self-loving mom, which is a great gift to my son of course! 😀 Ahhhh, life is beautiful! And so are you! 🙂

  2. says

    Such a great post Asetha! As I was reading your post (before I read where you read it) I was thinking to myself: We are only using “They” as an excuse for the excuses we are making within ourselves. It’s easier not to do something because of outside forces than to admit that we are our own worst obstacle. Self-compassion is critical. We must love ourselves and accept ourselves before anyone else can. It’s funny that you wrote on this, as it was something that came up recently for me on my blog – http://countingmyspoons.com/2014/07/compassion/, and something I know I need more reminders of. So, thank you so much for another reminder to love myself.

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