Updated: Apr 8
The world is full of sensationalism as many voices fight for our attention. The more dramatic, devisive, controversial, the better. But if we are just about able to distinguish fake news, why do we struggle to hear the truth and concentrate on what's important when it comes to opinions on us?
Because sometimes where we've come from can affect where we are going.
You cannot ridicule someone for a behavior and then accuse them of being arsey.
I have always worked hard to get things right…this means I often did well in subjects at school. Which means I was mocked for being good at something “oooh, you’re such a swot”…but then just as mocked if I did less well “ooh, what happened to the other 2%?”.
So, pick your poison. Should I have:
a) Fought fire with fire and ridiculed back for “Being more stupid, because at least I got 98%...what did they get?”
b) Self-sabotaged and given up on diligence?
c) Told myself to “ignore them – They don’t matter”
Of course it’s c)…but c) is darn near impossible at that age! ...and not that easy now!
“They” do matter. “They” may be your only option of friends. “They” may be the family who has raised you. Yes, sometimes "They" are deliberately trying to:
- Manipulate you
- Force their agenda on you
- Gain your support (which you may not truly want to give)
- Press their opinion on you
...but also even when “They” may not have malicious intent, “They” can still have an effect.
However, it is possible to hear through the noise:
Focus, hear and value who matters
Rather than taking an approach of - “They don’t matter – screw them”; try one of “If I know who to hear, I’ll listen even more carefully.”
Even if you went through a tough time in your childhood, or even if it seems like people are simply shouting loudly right now – there will have been back then – and are now – at least one or two voices who were on your side. Perhaps there was a teacher, a person, a parent, a sibling….now too maybe there is a coach, a writer, a counsellor, a mentor?
The problem is, they may not have been the coolest, or the most popular, or the one you really wanted to approve of you – but they were there…and when you begin to tune into their vibe, you’ll begin to realise you're connecting with what's really important.
When it matters less about being “in” or “popular” or whatever you thought you wanted – and much more about connecting with people whose values you respect and in many cases you share….you'll listen - and think - more clearly; and you may even realise that these people - the ones you are starting to hear may well be cooler, sexier and important than you may have once appreciated! They'll certainly be healthier company.
Recognise who to hear
1. Become more aware of the people who are on your side – they will most often be the ones:
- Who share your inner values
- You respect in their own capacity
Do this by:
i) Identifying what your values are and working to live them every day. As you do, don’t worry if you begin to realise some people who were in your circle don’t quite share them and drift off – focus on the ones that stay or arrive. Your circle may change, and it may seem a little sad and strange at first, but suddenly life gets much brighter and broader.
ii) Appreciating the people you respect especially when they place trust in you. Perhaps they have paid you a compliment, recommended you, read your book or praised your work. When people in objectively high regard do that – they are doing it because they mean it, they don’t have to spend their valuable time and energy making you feel better…and if you don’t appreciate it nor continue to focus on living up to it – they don’t have to continue to do so either. …and people who attain respect often have it on their own great qualities – they aren’t people pleasers nor aggressors demanding attention.
iii) Muting, blocking or unfollowing on social media, or reducing the time spent in real life with the people whose values are not aligned with yours. Enough said?
2. Once you are aware of them – listen for them - they are a healthier guide
Sometimes I get drawn back into old relationships which have long passed their health, but in an interlinked social world, those people pop up from time to time. Because of history it’s easy to be "seduced" back - when anger has dissipated, you do remember the good times, until the next eruption and you think “How did that happen again?”.
I do believe people can change, but I don’t believe all of them do…and many, especially the type who may have drawn you in because of their verve sometimes lack the substance beneath. So when those options reappear – think wisely, and instead try to hear who really matters. (I have begun to notice especially if I sway back, something pops up from my healthier relationships which reminds me to stay focused).
Not everyone is “for life”. Many pass through, some return, a few are constant. So also:
3. Acknowledge the good ones – value them right back
I know I am privileged to be “that voice” for some people too, and should I be for you - I know I want nothing more than to be proud of you if I have supported you and helped you grow. But if I ever begin to resent the time I offered - or you start to take advantage I simply let you go with “You got that for free…the next time, I charge.” I won’t resent, it's a waste of energy – some people won’t share my values even though I may have thought they did and this isn’t their fault – so I simply forgive, I just don’t forget…I’ve got a finite amount of said energy to go around myself and I’d rather not be drained twice! (Exhaustion also stops me helping those who matter!)
And for those people whom I strive to hear to keep me focused - firstly, Thank you – I will always work harder for you, I will push more to be there, I won't "pimp out" your generosity. (You know if others try to ask for favours from YOUR friends!) I know you need energizing too.
The voices you need to hear are the ones:
- Who value you
- Who acknowledge you
- Who raise you up
- Who help and support you
…for no reason other than they believe in you. Yes – in some cases, this may be their job which they do well, but you will often find that what you have received in the way of belief which builds your own confidence and personal strength is more than the skills of a good leader, teacher or coach. Respect their faith by living up to it.
In the same way as mindfulness techniques allow you to press pause to breathe for a moment; or sticking to reliable sources of information can cut through the fake news. Focus on those you trust to keep you strong…and listen to them above the noise.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a focus on nurturing a confidence mindset for inner strength and resilience. Learn more at www.draudreyt.com and follow her on Twitter/Insta @draudreyt. You can also find tips and activities to build self confidence and resilience for all the family on her YouTube page The Wellness League