How Other People Affect Who You Are...
... & How You Feel
(Becoming Your Best Self Series—Part 6)
We didn’t become who we are on our own. Our personalities, habits, and beliefs were partially shaped by our experiences with the people around us. We have internalized things people have said or believed about us all our lives.
So, why don’t you instantly become better just because someone says they believe in you and thinks you’re amazing? It might be that you haven’t had enough experiences in your life that show you that’s true. Or maybe your early experiences and interpretations of life were so strong that you refuse to see the good in yourself even though people around you see it all the time.
You’ll notice that a lot of what I talk about sounds an awful lot like self-esteem. The truth is that if you aren’t your ideal self already, then a major part of you doesn’t believe you can make it happen. You allow yourself to dream but you don’t allow yourself to turn it into a reality because you lack self-esteem in that area.
There are a few things at work when it comes to how people help shape who you are and what you believe about yourself. The actions and reactions of other people can change how you feel about yourself over time and in the moment.
Have you ever felt really uncomfortable when you walked into a room full of people who you thought were saying unpleasant things about you?
Have you ever felt on top of the world after accomplishing something major and having everyone congratulate you with a big smile?
Or maybe you came home at the end of a long workday and your spouse greeted you with a cold shoulder for seemingly no reason. That’s enough to instantly drop your mood down to match theirs.
We can feel it and sense it whether people are in a good mood or a bad mood. It’s how we’re programmed, but there are things you can do to strengthen yourself so you can be better shielded from the negative attitudes of others. Also, your interpretation might not be the reality. See people in a more positive light and you’ll realize that they’re typically responding positively to you.
It Comes From Childhood…
It’s through your interactions with others that you learn about yourself. Some of how you interact with others go back to attachment theory in infancy and childhood. Having secure, attached relationships helps you become more independent and self-confident. Having poor attachment as a child due to neglect, negativity, or inconsistent care can cause a lot of problems throughout your life.
Studies have shown that when a child is securely attached, they have healthy, happy relationships. When a child is not securely attached, they tend to be avoidant because the relationship has not been reliable. Inconsistent care and attachment leads to disorganization and pulling in and pushing away from the caregiver.
Having an insecure or avoidant childhood attachment can make it more difficult for you to have successful relationships and a positive self-image throughout your life. Your view of how others will treat you becomes a lifelong self-fulfilling prophecy for as long as you permit it… but no longer once you become aware of it (awareness is a wonderful thing, you’ll find).
Children with secure attachment generally tend to go on to have great relationships, are well-respected, are emotionally balanced, are attuned to the feelings and emotions of others, and tend to have an easier time making sense of the world.
Those with an avoidant attachment generally tend to protect themselves emotionally and have a hard time relating to other people. This can lead to a lot of anxiety and a lack of self-confidence.
Those with a disorganized attachment tend to have a lot of difficulty regulating emotion. They may sometimes open up or hold back in ways that are generally not considered ideal.
Your relationships are always going to be a very important part of who you are. If you don’t have close relationships, then you’re likely not going to be fulfilled. Do you think people are out to get you or are they generally on your side?
Consider your childhood, even if it’s painful for you. If you feel that you have a disorganized or avoidant attachment style, it’s time to take steps to become aware of what that means for your life, your success, and your relationships.
Your View of Yourself Counts the Most
While attachment to others and relationships with others is important in forming who you are, your view of yourself is more important. You have to be strong enough and self-confident enough to move forward and do better no matter what happens in your life. You need to be able to roll with the punches and pick yourself up.
Tend to your relationships but work on yourself first and foremost. If you’re strong and confident your relationships will also be strong. If you don’t trust people or imagine all the terrible things people think about you, you’ll never be able to become your ideal self.
Consider that everyone constructs their own worldview. The way you see a situation or a problem is totally different from how someone else sees it. Consider how others think and what they’ve gone through when you interact with them.
This will help you have more meaningful interactions. When you have difficulty with someone else it’s a clash of worldviews. Always be aware of what you can do better, but know you don’t have control over other people. You do, however, have control over yourself. Do what you’re doing right now–you’re taking control of your life.
In the next edition, we will explore how to "Write Your Life Story"
Until then, many blessings and much peace!