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One of the most devastating problems people have is so common that nearly everybody views it as “human nature.” Few people even try to get rid of the problem because they assume everyone has it; it’s part of the “human condition.”
What is this problem? Worrying about what others think and doing things just to get people’s approval.
How you know if you have the problem
How do you know if you are one of the tens of millions of people who have this problem?
Do you often walk away from people thinking, “Did I say the right thing”; did I offend someone”; “should I have said or asked …”?
Do you frequently hear that “little voice” in your head saying: “What will they think?”?
Do you often feel you need to be a certain way and you can’t just be yourself?
Although these thoughts and behaviors seem to be a much a part of who we are, in fact, however, you can eradicate these thoughts and behaviors forever.
How? By eliminating the beliefs that cause them. Although this problem can be caused by different beliefs in different people, there is one specific belief that anyone with this problem almost certainly has: “What makes me good enough is having people think well of me.”
How this belief is formed and why it is so common
Today, I’m going to tell you how this belief is formed, why so many people have it (maybe even you) and how getting rid of this belief will transform your life.
Early in life many of us form negative beliefs about ourselves like “I’m not good enough.” (Almost every one of the 14,000 clients we’ve had from almost 60 countries around the world has had this belief.) Because most parents expect children to do things that are unrealistic for their age (such as be neat and quiet and come when called at the age of three or four), and because most parents get frustrated, annoyed or angry when their children don’t do what they’re told, most children conclude “there must be something wrong with me” when mom and dad are upset with me so often, or I’m not good enough.
Because our beliefs about ourselves are usually formed during the first six years of life, most of us already have this belief when we leave our homes and go out into the world of teachers, other kids, school, etc. Obviously a belief like this would make us think as we start school: “How will I get people to like me and how will I make it in the world if I’m not good enough?”
And those thoughts, in turn, would lead to us feeling “not okay” about ourselves and anxious to some extent.
The belief gets formed
And then one day a solution appears. We do something that our parents (or perhaps a teacher or coach) like and they give us a very positive response. How does that make us feel? Happy and very good about ourselves.
The first few times that happens we feel good but don’t make anything of it. And then after this progression of events occurs a few times we conclude: If I didn’t feel good about myself, and then after getting praise and/or positive attention I do feel good about myself, what that means is: “What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me.”
Survival strategy beliefs
This is a very special type of belief. It is a belief that tells us what needs to happen in order to experience being okay. And when it doesn’t happen we don’t feel very good about ourselves.
Well, if we don’t experience being good enough the way we are and we need something outside ourselves to become good enough, how often would we want that outside something to occur? All the time! Anytime anyone doesn’t like us, rejects us, or thinks poorly of us, we have lost our “survival strategy,” our method for making us feel good about ourselves. At that point the underlying belief: “I’m not good enough,” is uncovered and stares us in the face, leaving us feeling not good enough and producing some level of anxiety.
As a result, the need to have others think well of us is experienced like a drug addiction by many people. When they achieve it they feel good for the moment, but it’s only a matter of time before they need another “fix.” At that point they become obsessed about getting it.
There are other “survival strategy” beliefs, such as What makes me good enough is doing things perfectly; what makes me good enough is being successful/wealthy (can you see now see why some people are obsessed with this?); and what makes me good enough is taking care of others. And it’s possible to have more than one. But based on our experience in our private practice, “having people think well of me” is the most common.
It now should be clear why so many people are obsessed about what others think about them: Most people have the belief I’m not good enough (or some variation of it) and “having people think well of me” is the remedy most of us have found to cover up the anxiety that stems from having that belief.
Get rid of the beliefs to get rid of the obsession
If the obsession about having people think well of us is a direct result of having several beliefs, the way to get rid of the obsession is to get rid of these beliefs. You can eliminate “I’m not good enough” using our free interactive web program at http://www.recreateyourlife.com. You also can buy a program that will enable you to eliminate “What makes me good enough is having people think well of me,” as well as a number of other crippling beliefs. See our Natural Confidence program at http://recreateyourlife.com/naturalconfidence.
Thanks for reading my blog. Are you worried about what others think? Do you now understand why? Can you now understand why this is such a common phenomenon? Please share your experience.
I just discovered your work through Steve Pavlina.
Your ideas make lots of sense, provided you can pinpoint the belief that is causing the problem. I was about getting ready to purchase your program, but I was worried that it would not apply to me.
I think there is room to develop a piece of software to help zoom on the belief. You have 19 beliefs listed, but I am sure there are multitudes more.
I myself have been struggling all my life with being a night person. Better defined as a night owl. This naturally causes me t0 get up late and disrupts my life a lot. It’s been a struggle ever since I remember.
I always plan to go to bed early but invariably get distracted and end up sometimes @ 2 AM or even later. Sheer willpower will occasionally help for a week or two but then its back to square one.
Do you have any ideas where to start?
I’ve listened to almost all your podcasts and am really enjoying the content. I do have some suggestions for how to make them more effective as well as some “user expereience” critiques that I think will make your sites more user friendly. No worries, I’m not selling anything. I just feel that your messages might not be reaching people as effectively as you might like in the online space. It’s what I do professionally, so I’m happy to share.
I’d appreciate any suggestions.
Send me a note at email@example.com.
Thanks so much, Love,Morty
I really appreciate this blog. I’ve struggled with this issue practically my whole life. Now I realize just how much important my own approval affects my happiness. Not caring what others think would certainly be a breath of fresh air and provide so much liberation. We all need to be free.
You can eliminate the beliefs that cause us to worry about the opinions of others on our Natural Confidence program, http://recreateyourlife.com/naturalconfidence. Check it out.
I just lOve reading all these comments- it shows how much good you are doing in the world
I am thinking of training as either a coach or going into counselling
Reading this embeds that wish even more
“You don’t become a rock star worrying about ticket sales.” — MM
I once heard a wise man say:
“We wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of us if we only realized how little they think of us.” Meaning, they’re not spending their energy worrying about what they think of us, they’re spending their energy worrying about what we think of them!
It kind of becomes like the advice for public speakers: Imagine your audience sitting there before you naked. When you realize you’re not being judged as much as you thought, you can be yourself and the need for approval diminishes. At least it worked for me.
Thanks for all you do and write, Morty.
At school I was very successful with soccer. I was the star in the team. before school I must have had beliefs ‘im not good enough/or importnat’ and then in school I had alot of attention from coaches and parents who thought well of me. They used to react amazed and blown away with my talent. I felt like the a super hero and felt very successful. I got injured a blew my chance of making a pro thus feeling of disappointment. Since then I have found it hard to find my passion and way in life. I have gone from job to job and had poor relationships. Because of these experiences I have concluded ‘What makes me good enough is being successful’. Being successful is my obsession. Morty please would you tell me what are the other interpretations for this?
Often successes in one area bleed over into creating a feeling of success in other areas. Check out David DeAngelo for how to start having solid success in one area. Then come back and apply what you’ve learned from David to what Morty has taught you.
After reading this blog. I realised I have the belief what makes me good enough is being successful/wealthy. Now I have done the dvd 3 times through and done the 5 abundance beliefs. I wonder if its this belief thats stopping me being successful in my life. I have always been obsessed with being very succcessful and wealthy. this has given me alot of stress and low self esteem not getting it. Maybe if I removed this belief then I would relax more about being successful and become successful.
It reminds me a bit of the whole theory behind the Adler Psychology theory. We do things to belong. How we view the conditions for belonging is subjective and acquired from a young age.
Thanks a lot. It is good to know that by changing my belief I can have a better life.
It’s funny, because I’ve mostly scooted through life touting how much I don’t care what others think of me, when in fact, I do, to the point of being a “people pleaser.” I think on some level it’s healthy to desire people to think well of you and approve of you, but in my case, and I’m sure in many other’s as well, it becomes an obsession, a must have, like you stated. I know that I don’t feel comfortable most of the time simply being myself in public situations and when interacting with others.
I’ve heard this condition, if you want to call it that, described as being a chameleon, where you change your personality to what you think other people want you to be. Which is kind of silly, because what you perceive people want you to be may not be that at all.
It really is a crummy feeling thinking that I have to be someone different in order for people to approve of me.
I relate totally to what you’re saying; we become who other people want us to be and become “approval junkies”, worrying about what we say and how we look at things so we get that approval. When I was in my early 20s, I was constantly saying “I’m sorry” for every perceived slip-up I made. This is silly but I was making a sandwich for my roommate and cut it a little bit off and said, “I’m sorry.” She said, “Quit saying ‘you’re sorry’!” I got the message. I knew who I was, but it was buried beneath an avalanche of beliefs and occurrings; luckily through my own acceptance of my limiting beliefs and perceptions and Morty’s programs, I was able to clear them myself. And isn’t that the best kind of help?
Love and Light,
Thank you so much, Morty!!! You keep opening the eyes for people, and the truth is closer than one would imagine :) Thanks for helping the world! Asan, Ukraine
Hi Morty, thanks for your inspiring words and huge generosity !!! I agree with everything you say but I have to say for me personally eliminating those beliefs based on the method didn’t work. I tried the feeling rather than visualising but it still didn’t work. I wish there was a way to eliminate them as I do feel they get in the way !
Thanks for developing your work and for your interest and great goals in helping others, I also love the work of your partner Shelly I think you complete each other !!!
We were all made perfect
We are all still perfect
Let love of self and others abound
Thanks for this
Thank you for this! I became aware that this is probably the most central jproblem in my life when I went to NYC for the first time. I don’t give a damn what people think about me there and experienced wonderful freedom. It is very clear to me that I haven’t done all I am capable of because I was so worried of how people perceive me.
I was programmed with this belief when I was young. Like Riley mentioned, I wish I had known the truth when I was younger.
morty your posts are awesome…wish you were a friend to my parents when i was young!
Most of us, whether we admit it or not, place our emotional well being in other people’s approval, whether is our parents or peers, relatives, friends, spouse… Believe me, I know!
This I do know, intimately. My life was based on whether people approved me or not. It’s like we’ve hung ourselves on an emotional and belief-ridden clothesline waiting for other people to validate us. I tried all sorts of methods for shedding that feeling of inadequacy for years; a few worked, none at all. What sets the Lefkoe Belief Process apart from others is that it validates how and why we come to believe something instead of saying it is a “false belief” like so many others do. I don’t know about you, but when someone told me, even in writing, that what I believed was false, I immediately felt like digging my heels in. Eventually, the day will come when people think for themselves based on reality instead of illusions based on beliefs that essentially tell us not to trust ourselves.
Love and Light on your Journey,
I would firstly like to say that your method has worked wonders for me, and the couple of occurring techniques you provided are working well,I will definatly join the full LOP as soon as im able.
My question is can eliminating beliefs replace the practice of owning shadow material? This is when, to use anger for an example: a person comes to the conclution that anger is bad when younger, at some point he suppreses his anger, he pushes it out of his subjective awareness, he then sees other people as angry, and his self as not angry, as this would make him bad. While ironically getting angry about others anger, but not knowing he is angry because he projects it on to others. Anger is moved from 1st person to 3rd person.
This is worked with by doing a process where the person would re-own his anger, by becoming aware of the anger in himself, this is done through mentle dialogue with the angry person, then speaking as the angry person in 1st person and admitting his angry, he can only work with the anger once he admits that he is angry to him self.
His anger moves from being the subject, something he is imersed in, to object, something he can see within him self, this work is dealt with by ken wilber and is known as the shadow. The works objective is to own and allow different beliefs and emotions to arise within a persons awarness, what ever it is, without judgement, and to own these parts of the self to be a fully integrated person, owning these parts anables a person to have choice arond them, rather than thinking it is others who have the issues, where they can not be worked with.
Your work seems to also move beliefs from unconcious and subjective, to an observable object, created within.
So my question is can the lefkoe method replace shadow work (which can also be used on beliefs as well as emotion), or does it suppliment it?
I’m not that familiar with shadow work and it plays no role whatsoever in our work. For my point of view, we have no shadow; we have beliefs formed earlier in our lives that affect us today. If eliminated, we can become free.
what I don’t understand is where is there not a national movement, private driven or publicly financed, to educate parents HOW IMPORTANT the first 6 years of a child’s life are in development of who and what they become.
These ideas are so clear to me that it makes me sad that I have been operating under shackles of mental restraint for my entire life.
Yes, it is reversible, and you can start now. But why is there not a national movement to promote this information through public service announcements or private profit making concern.
This belief that you’re suggesting be eradicated through some national movement is one of the beliefs that keeps you from starting the movement yourself.
Unfortunately, looking to others to fix the problem is a belief set in “I’m not good enough.”
The “nation” has no interest in resolving the issue, because worrying about what others think is part of the obedience culture that the teenagers are rebelling against.
Be yourself, and start solving the problems that you see before you.
Actually I think I really don’t worry (too much anyway) about what people think, but I really wish I had learned the lesson much earlier in life. Being constrained by what other think is so limiting.