Does what people think about us really matter?

As I have written about, I have been going through a very difficult time over the last few months, struggling to recover from a devastating blow that was both financial and personal.  My family, my friends, my clients and students have been very kind to me about it–some people letting me cry on their shoulders, others spending time coaching me through tough moments, mainly standing by me and letting me know they care and that they understand what I’m dealing with.  None of them has encouraged me to feel as bad about myself as I tended to feel–meaning that I consistently had and have a balance of challenge and support, both internally and externally.

They see me working through this, and they see me learning and growing from it.  A few have even expressed that it helped them to see me in so much pain because they felt more connected to me, it helped them break down their “stories” that I had somehow achieved more in life than they–because that just isn’t true.  Their achievements were simply in a different form. 

And that support, that willingness to help me, that steadfast certainty that I will make it through this and grow from it has really made a difference in my life.  It does matter what they think of me, because it shows me that inside myself, balancing my self-flagellation and disappointment is also a courageous, strong, capable woman who believes in herself–reflected back to me by those who think well of me, who show me they believe in me.

I realize I sometimes spend more energy collecting evidence from those who agree with my negative self-image (this is my proof that I’m right–I’m a Loser!) than noticing the equal number of people who reflect back my positive qualities.  I often say that the world is a great big house of mirrors, some distorted and some clear.  Being in crisis is actually helping me find the clear reflections and appreciate them even more.

Another blessing from being challenged.  Love that!