It is one thing to be interested in what other people think, though another to be controlled by the opinions of others. All too often a lot of us let other people’s views on ‘how things should be’, govern our own decision-making process.
I believe the primary reason we are so heavily swayed by what other people think, is our desire to be liked and to feel like we ‘fit in’. Most of us like to feel admired, respected, important, and we believe a good start in that direction is to agree with what others think and do. If we acknowledge that we like others and are in agreement with their ideals, they are more likely to like us. This can extend to their opinion of us, how we should look, behave and even what ‘opinions’ and values we should have.
The lower the self-esteem, self-worth and sense of importance we have of ourselves, the more prone we will be to being controlled by other people’s opinions. If we were raised in an environment where we only felt loved or valued, ifwe lived up to others’ expectations of us, or were making other people happy, then this way of gaining affection and admiration will become important to us.
Instead of basing our sense of self-worth and importance on how we perform against our own values and ideas of how we should live, we can spend our lives trying to conform to what others think and living according to their rules. All in an attempt to feel loved, valued or to ‘fit in’.
The reality is that the sense of love, value and contentment with oneself, should always begin from within. If you have chosen good life values and are living your life according to these values, you willdevelop a natural and healthy inner love and self-worth. Once you respect yourself for how you live your life, two things will happen. (1) The need for the approval of others will disappear, as will the controlling influence of their opinions; and (2) You will attract and gain the admiration and respect of others, because you live your life according to your own good values and aren’t easily governed by the opinions of others.
This important lesson that I learned helped me with my decision to commit to living an alcohol-free life. For most of my life I believed the Australian cultural belief, that you had to drink alcohol to be a ‘real’ Aussie man. Even though the consequences of my alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse was causing me numerous problems, I was too controlled by the opinions of others, including my social circle. It was only after I committed to live my life according to my own values and put higher credence in my opinions, that I was able to happily live my way without fearing what others think. My new main source of contentment originated from within me and therefore under my control.
In my book Alcohemy and alcohol treatment program, I discuss the importance of not being controlled by the opinions of others (especially social groups you are in). If you are to make real changes in your life that are best for you, you need to base your decisions on your values and opinions. It is prudent (even wise), to considerthe opinions of other people, especially if they have wisdom and your best interest at heart. However the ultimate decision on how to live your life must come from within you. You be the Master of your Fate; the Captain of your Soul.