Opinions That Matter

We constantly listen to feedback and are exposed to many different viewpoints in our lifetime. It eventually becomes difficult to know whose feedback and opinions really matter. We all have a desire for approval, but when you link you social and psychological well-being to the approval of others, you may have to take a long hard look at exactly whom you will allow to influence your sense of self-worth.

There are various types of feedback: some are constructive, many are negative and then there’s the “suck-up feedback”, as Brené Brown puts it. We even get feedback from people who don’t really know us at all … people who feel compelled to judge our decisions and actions without understanding where we’ve come from or how we got to this point. Critical comments are rife on social media, and even if it comes from someone completely unknown, it often stops us dead in our tracks.

If you had to listen to, and take all the feedback you receive from all corners of your extended social circle to heart, you would so exhausted trying to please the world, striving for perfection, that you would not be brave enough to fully enter the arena of life. You simply cannot afford to mould yourself into what others need you to be.

Decide whose opinions matter

It is hard to be brave when we define ourselves by what others think. At the same time, if we stop caring about what others think, we’re too armored for authentic connections. So how do you get clear on whose opinions matter?

Here is a lovely exercise from Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead – she calls it the Square Squad exercise.

Write down the people whose opinion really matters to you in this small square. Notice how small the square is – you can only jot down the names of the people whose integrity you value, as long as it fits into the square. Your square squad or integrity partners must be a small group, so take as long as you need, edit your list until you are left with only a few.

Now fold it and put it away. I keep mine in my purse, so I am constantly reminded of whose opinion counts in my life.

Then, take some time and reach out to the people in your square squad. Let them know that that their opinions matter to you. Tell them that you are grateful for having them in your life and thank them for caring enough to be honest with you.

Your square squad comprises people who love you because of your vulnerability and imperfections, not despite them. They are not yes people. They are the ones you can count on for honesty and support, despite your setbacks, mess-ups and failures.

Pay attention

I recently used this exercise during a training session, and one attendee told me afterwards that he experienced an AHA moment – the three people in his square squad were the people he was spending the least amount of time with.

Life is peculiar like this. We tend to spend time with people who make us feel guilty for not spending time with them, and those who really matter are right at the back of the line. It’s because we know they will love and support us no matter what.

On this note, I wish all our special women clients a joyful Women’s Month – may you keep the company of those who truly matter.

Remember always to be inspired, be brave and be on purpose.

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