Getting over the need for other people's approval
Ep. 157
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So many of you are stuck because your parents, friends, or co-workers simply don’t understand why you want to take this “risk”. 

Here’s the truth: They don’t have to support you. And you still get to make the decision you want for your life. 

Would it be nice if everyone saw the world the way you did and could fully understand your dreams? Yes, of course it would be.

Do you need that before you actually take the jump? Absolutely not.

The real reason you feel like you need their support is because if they believe in you, it’s easier for YOU to believe in YOU. 

When other people express doubt, it triggers the fear and insecurity you already have in this big decision. So you become defensive and spend all of your energy trying to convince them it’s the right choice. 

But what you’re really doing is trying to convince yourself. If someone else can see your vision, then it helps reassure that part of your brain that is also screaming “This is insane! We’re going to regret it!”

They don’t have to understand what you want to do. YOU have to understand what you want to do.

They don’t have to believe in you. You have to believe in you. 

You will still have doubt. Hell, you can even agree with them that it’s a crazy decision. And you still get to make it. 

If you struggle with this, this week’s podcast is for you. I dive deeper into this concept and explain how you can start moving past needing everyone’s support. 

Show Transcript
I really wanted that stamp of approval before I started the podcast. And then when I realized I'm not going to get it, like he's just not going to see it from the way that I see it was when I had to like make a decision either I want to do this bad enough that like it's okay if he doesn't understand or I'm just going to spend a year after year trying to get this guy to see my vision.

Hey, welcome to Lessons From a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you spent getting to where you are, if ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.

Hello, my friends. Welcome to another episode of Lessons From a Quitter. I am so excited you are here. Last week, I had my husband on the show and I'm so glad you guys liked it. I got so many sweet messages about that episode. It was a treat for me. So I'm glad you guys enjoyed it as well. And I wanted to kind of piggyback off that episode because a lot of I think hesitation for people to change careers comes in the form of like having to fight family members, for lack of a better way of saying it. It's lack of family support. Probably one of the most common things that I hear and I get it. I dealt with a lot of this myself and I think that there is a different dynamic when you are financially tied to someone, right? So spousal partners or even parents that pay for you, right? So I've had some younger people that listen to the podcast who maybe are in college and still live at home and your parents still pay for everything and there is a different dynamic in that situation. And I will talk about that at the end of the episode today, but when you don't have that dynamic, but it's really just I want their support, right? Like I find it too difficult to fight with them or go against what they're saying or explain to them. Like a lot of us are very conflict averse. We don't want to deal with that tension. We don't want to deal with those conversations. And so when we know how our parents are going to react or our friends or family, we tend to just hide from taking that step because we don't want to deal with that. So I want to talk about that. I want to talk about what do you do if your family or friends don't understand the change you want to make. If you don't have the support from the people that are closest to you because that can be really difficult. And I have to say that was something that really stopped me for a long time like that year that I was really trying to make that decision. I was very, not secretive, but I didn't talk about my thoughts about leaving the law with anyone other than my husband. And then eventually my immediate family, my parents and sister, because I was terrified of other people's opinions and judgments. I knew I was so fragile in my decision. I wasn't on, you know, really sure footing. I wasn't convinced myself. And so I knew I couldn't handle their doubts. And so I didn't really talk about it until I was certain.

And I dealt with a lot of it. I think that whenever you walk away from something that society considers quote unquote successful, most people won't understand, right? That's not the paradigm that most of us have bought into. And so it's very difficult for people when they have the belief that hey, you have something of value, you have this degree, you have this job, you have this status – why would you walk away from something that is good? I knew that most people wouldn't understand. And so I dealt with a lot of that. I dealt with, you know, not super close family members but like family members that would consistently try to convince me to go back to law or would get really upset about the decision I made. I had some family members basically stop talking to me, which was really interesting. And we'll talk about that in a bit. So I say that to say I understand, I know that that was a really big fear was, you know, when we say like, what are other people gonna say? What we really mean is are the people that are closest to us, right? Like I didn't care about random strangers on the street. I cared about what my friends would think, what my family would think, what my coworkers would think, what my law school friends would have thought if they found out. And so I want to talk about that today because it's normal to like want approval, right? And we've talked about this a lot on the podcast. It's normal that we are tribal beings. And if you are somebody who always did what they were supposed to do, right? Typically, the people that are listening to this podcast, we are the people who did what society told us was the right thing to do. We studied, we got good grades. We listened to our teachers and parents and you know, whoever else told us what boxes to check off and we did it. And so you're already a person who tends to, and I don't, I'm not saying this in a bad way of like follow the crowd or anything, but it's like there's a path and we've we bought into it. We accepted that path. We're like yeah, alright, sign me up. I'll do it. I'll do whatever I need to do. You say jump, I'll say how high and then I'll get to this place. And so when you already have that personality, right? When a lot of us, myself very much included, sustained myself on external validation. When I constantly needed the praise of parents, teachers, friends, other people to think that I was so successful, it's not as easy as just saying like oh yeah, get over it. Oh, who cares what other people think? It's like well I really do. I truly truly care. You know, deep down it is a need that I thought I had. And so I think when you realize that you have been someone that got that praise that was always looked at as like oh, good job, look at you doing all the right things. It's very difficult to become the person that's like oh, I actually don't care if you don't understand, right. So we had to first just be aware of that, that you're making this identity shift, that you're shifting the way where like before other people's validation was very important to you. You're now beginning to believe that maybe you don't need that, that maybe being happy in your own life and figuring out what you want is more important than everybody else being excited for you or happy or an agreement, right. Because where did that get you? That got you somewhere that you don't necessarily want to be. And so just like acknowledging yourself in that space first, there's nothing wrong with you. You know, nothing has gone wrong in this situation. It's very normal to want that. So I like, I think a lot of times we add on some judgment and shame like why do I care so much? Why am I like this? You know like why can't I just do what I want and not care what other people think? And it's like well that's just not the way you're wired. So like let's kind of drop that judgment of ourselves and really acknowledge ourselves. Like hey I'm going into this big transition. I'm making a huge move. It's going to ruffle some feathers. It's going to rock the boat. People are going to have a lot of opinions about it. And like that's going to be uncomfortable for me. So like I am acknowledge myself for going through this. It's sort of like a, an ego death, right. An identity death, like you're changing who you are to be more sustainable to sustain yourself, I should say, with your own opinions and thoughts, as opposed to other people's, which is what has been your MO for a long time. So I just say that, like to set it up that like it's it's okay, it's very normal but like what do we do about it now? Right. A lot of times like the way people say it to me is basically that they can't do it because their friends won't understand or their family won't understand or their coworkers won’t understand. Right. Usually it's family like parents like well I don't know what to do because my parents think X, Y, and Z. Right?

So we spend a lot of our time trying to convince them or overly explaining ourselves and getting into fights. You know, like I can't tell you how many people will tell me like the arguments they get in trying to get their friends and family to understand where they're coming from. And I want you to understand that like it's a wasted energy. You don't have to get them to understand. You don't need them to accept for you to move on. You need to be okay with the fact that other people have different opinions and that's fine. And so we don't need to spend all of our time doing that. And I've talked about this with my husband on the podcast about, you know, my need or want of his permission quote unquote like I didn't know, that's what I was seeking. And if you told me I would say like oh, I don't need his permission but I really wanted that stamp of approval before I started the podcast. And then when I realized I'm not going to get it like he's just not going to see it from the way that I see it was when I had to like make a decision either I want to do this bad enough that like it's okay if he doesn't understand or I'm just going to spend year after year trying to get this guy to see my vision. Right. So when I say this is like what we're going to focus on is not how do you convince your family members? Because you cannot change other people's opinions and minds. And a lot of times, the more you fight, the more people dig in, right? Like there's scientific evidence and tons of studies that like we have this kind of confirmation bias. And then we look for the things that prove our point. And when we are confronted with facts to the opposite, we dig in deeper. We don't change our mind. We don't say like oh you're right, thanks for showing me all this evidence of people that have changed their careers. It's like we start digging in deeper. Like no, this is the only right way. So that's what I want to focus on is like we don't need to change anybody's mind. We don't need their permission. And how do we start moving on even if we're going to have to deal with this uncomfortableness of other people not approving, okay. Here is the faulty thinking, the faulty logic that you are engaging in – the only reason that you need them to believe in what you are doing is because it makes it easier for you to then believe it. Most of your family and friends are coming from well-meaning places, right? They love you. And they may not even understand their own fears and doubts. And and they think they're trying to do this to keep you safe. Right? And so when you tell them that you're going to do maybe something that they believe is risky or they believe is not the prudent decision, they're going to come at you because they don't want you to take that risk. They don't want you to regret it, whatever the thoughts are. And it's also like you're rocking kind of their paradigm, like their understanding of the world. And if you do that, what does that mean for them? And so it triggers a lot in other people but when they say these things to you and they tell you that this is dumb like why would you leave this career that you have? It triggers that own doubt that you have in your own mind about like is this dumb? Am I going to regret this? Right? Think about like let's say like a business idea, if you had an idea to start a business. If you tell people and everybody tells you like that's such a great idea, it makes it easier for you to have confidence in that idea. Right. It's like oh this is something that's needed. If a lot of people come to you and say like that's insane and it's stupid or like nobody's going to buy that, I mean, it's something that you obviously have to like take into consideration but it can start sowing doubt. Right. And so a lot of times we want people to understand so that it gives us like the ability to also build that confidence in what we want to do. It's the same thing with like changing the job. Right. I talk about this a lot when I was quitting and I went to these meetup groups, I started going to tech startup meetup groups. And it was like the first time I really considered entrepreneurship. And it was only because it was the first time I was surrounded by other people that started being like yeah, of course you could start a business. Why wouldn't you? Right. Because most of the community that I was in would just recite the stats of like oh, you know, 80% of businesses fail in the first five years or whatever all these things are. And so it started being like yeah, why would I start a business? I have no idea what I'm doing. I've never done this, like of course I'm going to fail. I didn't go to school for this. I don't have a degree whatever. It wasn't until I was around other people and like their beliefs allowed me to start believing. With my husband when I say this like I kept bringing up this idea because I wasn't sure if this podcast is a good idea, right. I didn't know like the ramifications if I put it out there, what would my friends and family think? What would my ex-coworkers think? Would I be able to monetize it and make it into a business? Would it be worth my time? You know, would I embarrass myself and feel a lot of shame? And when I would keep talking to him about it it's like I wanted to see if he thought it was a good idea because it would been easier for me to believe it's a good idea. Like if from the get-go he was like you have to do this, this is the best idea you've ever had, I probably would have started this podcast two years earlier. Right. Because I wouldn't have had to push past those doubts myself. I had so much fear and doubt about doing this, about putting myself out like this. And if someone else believed in me, it would've made it much easier for me to believe.

And I know now when I look back like when he didn't and why I would sort of get angry sometimes or I would get into it or I would try to keep explaining and I would keep trying to like get him to understand is because deep down I was wondering like is he right? What if he's right? I don't want to hear I told you so like if this doesn't work out right. I don't want to feel resentful. And so I have to get him to understand so like if he sees it from my view, maybe he'll believe that what I'm doing is the right thing to do. And I had this same situation when I was leaving the law. Like I said I mean I had family members actively constantly try to talk me out of leaving, talk about how I'm throwing it all away and how could I walk away? And I spent so much time and why am I doing this? And whatever. And in the beginning I would spend so much time trying to explain to them, right. I would come up with every argument I had about why it was the right thing, why I was happier this way, why it was better for my son and my husband and my family, why I probably could make the same amount of money. Cause I wasn't making that much in nonprofit work anyway, you know, all of these things. And the reality was I was trying to convince myself too, right. I still had so much doubt if it was a good idea, I still was worried am I going to regret this? Am I going to walk away and think like what have you done? You know, I thought it through to a certain amount but like you don't know how you're going to feel in the future. And so I kept thinking I need to be able to articulate this to them. I need them to understand. And I need them to tell me you're right. Go for it. It's fine. You can always go back or whatever. And when they wouldn't I would dig in deeper and I would get more angry and I would pick, you know, we'd get in fights and I would be trying to do everything I could to convince them because I kept thinking like maybe they're right. Now in episode 148, I did a whole episode of getting over what other people think. And it's basically the same exact thing as we're talking about today. But you should listen to that episode if you haven't. The reality is is that the only thing we ever care about other people thinking are things that we already think about ourselves. Right? In that episode, we talked about just looking at some examples, like I've never walked around thinking like you know, I hope people don't think I'm too shy or too quiet because like that's not an insecurity I have about myself. Right. I I know I'm not. So like if somebody told me like gosh Goli, you're so quiet today, like what's going on? I wouldn't feel anything. I'd be like oh really? I don't know. Sorry, I was distracted because clearly I'm never quiet. But if somebody said God, Goli, you're so loud. Why do you always have to be the center of attention? Right? Like that would trigger a lot of thoughts in me because I have those insecurities deep down. And so when we are worried about what other people think of us, I want you to think about, you know, let's say like for most of us because we live in this society, we all have body image issues to a certain extent. And what's interesting is a lot of us don't have a lot of issues about around our height because like there's nothing you can do about it. And there isn't as much, I mean, I dunno maybe some, it might be more for men if you're shorter. There's probably a lot of issues around that. But I'm just saying for myself like being a really short person, I'm five feet tall. I've just never thought like oh, I hope people don't think I'm too short but I have many a times thought like do I look fat in this? Are people looking at me a? Whatever, right? So I'm just trying to get the point across that like it is something that you already think, you have an insecurity and we project that onto other people. We try to protect ourselves. Right? We don't want anyone looking at us or anyone judging us because we think they will see the thing that we see in ourselves. The thing that we are ashamed of, right? The thing that we've been taught to hate about ourselves, to think that we've been taught to like, you know, I don't know, think that we're wrong for it. It's the same thing in this situation. It's only because you have an insecurity about it right now because you don't know how it's going to turn out. If I look back now and I'm so set in my decision and how it turned out and trust me, I still get people in my family who make comments about how I should go back to the law and it's laughable. Right? Like it doesn't trigger anything in me. I mean, obviously cause I've done a lot of thought work around it as well. But I'm just saying like now it's so absurd. It really like makes me question. Like what is it in you that's making you think this? Like obviously it's not my life. Like it's your own thoughts because how does my life affect you in any way? But like why are you so hell bent on me being in a profession I'm telling you I was miserable in? And I've now like make more, I'm happier. I'm loving what I do. And yet, you know, there's something within you that feels like I shouldn't have done this. It threatened something. Right. But I'm telling you like because I know how it turned out, it makes it easier. In the beginning, I had a lot of doubt. So it would make it really difficult when somebody else would shine a light on that doubt. I want you to think about it this way. If your parents came to you and look for a lot of you who it let's say whoever the person is that you worry about them judging. Okay. If they came to you and said, and I'm going to just use this as an example, even if you're a man, you can come up with an example. But like let's say as a woman, if my parents came to me and said you know what? We actually believe now women shouldn't work. You should stay at home and be with your children. Don't let society raise your children. It's wrong, it's immoral. And you know, you shouldn't be making money. You should defer to your husband. Which there's a lot of parents who think that still, right. And there's a lot of you that may actually be dealing with that. But for me like it would be so absurd that like that wouldn't trigger anything in me. I'd be like are you insane? No. Okay, thanks for your opinion but like I'm not going to do that. That's what you think. And it doesn't have to accept what I do, right? If my parents came and said you know what? All of a sudden we've decided that we're going to become Amish and so we don't think that you should work with technology anymore. You shouldn't have a computer. You know, this is like ruining our lives, which they might have a point. I would still be like that's great for you but no. I wouldn't have a lot of drama about it. I wouldn't need to explain to them, you know, the benefits of technology. I’d just be like okay, that's your opinion. My opinion is I'm still gonna use the computer. I just want you to see this like when people think that like oh my parents say something and that is what triggers it in me is like if your parents were saying something that was so unbelievable to you, like so against your own morals and values and decisions in life, you wouldn't just be like oh, well my parents said it so I have to do it. I have to live like that. I think in this time, like we've seen this a lot in the last year and with COVID and even the vaccine, right, people have very strong opinions on either side. And I think with a lot of families, it has caused a lot of strife. But I think a lot of times it's interesting to see, cause like if whatever you believe, I don't actually care about the actual belief. But like if you believe that science works and vaccines are a good thing and you have a family member that tries to tell you like yell at you, that like the vaccine is going to kill you. And like they're trying to microchip you or whatever. You don't just like be like oh my God, I can't believe they're going to judge me and like now I can't get the vaccine because they're going to think less of me or whatever. You're like okay no, like I'm going to go with what the doctors say, right? The opposite's true too. Like if you don't believe, if you think that the vaccine is not safe and they haven't tested it enough, your family members can yell all day long that you're selfish and that you shouldn't get the vaccine. But if that's what you believe, you're going to go with it. And I'm just saying this in the sense of like, understand where your thoughts create your own feelings and your own actions. And when somebody else is giving you a thought that causes doubt is because you had that doubt. And so a lot of people will tell me things like well my parents believe that like work can't be fun and you just have to work hard. And I'm like okay, that's totally fine. We don't have to change their minds. Like do you believe that? Because the fact that that's what's keeping you stuck in your job is because part of you believes they're right. Like yeah we can’t all just make money and work 30 hours a week. Like if that's going to be your belief then you're not going to do it. You're not going to go make that life for yourself because they've sown that doubt, right. And you have that doubt yourself. And it's so funny to have these conversations in coaching calls because I get people that have the exact like opposite problems, right? Like I have people telling me like my parents didn't want me to get an education. They told me it was a waste of time. They wanted me to start working. They, you know, I got into a lot of fights with them cause like I wanted to go to college and I wanted to like do these things. And they told me that like the degree wasn't gonna, I wasn't going to be able to get a job. And so they had a lot of like conflict around that. And then I'll have people tell me like my parents think that if you're not a doctor or a lawyer, then you're basically a, you know, a garbage man and you'll never make anything out of your life. And I didn't even have a choice about whether I went to grad school. Right. And it's like, we believe that like that is what is making us do it. Like we have to do this thing that they say, and it's like your parents, your family, they're just people, with their own set of beliefs and fears and doubts that they have made up through a lot of programming in society and their own experiences. And you're allowed to want something different. And so what I want you to understand is that it's not their job to believe in your dream or your vision. It's your job.

We don't have to waste our time convincing them. I mean, did you know that, like we don't have to explain our whole lives away. I remember in the beginning when I wanted to quit and I would spend so much time explaining and Pejman, my husband, there would be times where we'd be at a party and someone would ask me what I was doing. And I would go into this like, God, long monologue about my whole life. And he would literally just like nudge me and be like shh stop. Because it was like why am I doing, why do I feel a need to have everybody understand and accept exactly what my path is? I don't need that. And that's the work, right? The work is in spending that time convincing yourself, spending that time building up that confidence in what you want to do, spending that time understanding why you're making this decision and being okay with that decision.

And this is the thing I will say – this does not mean that you won't have doubt too, right? I think a lot of times we think the only way for me to make this decision and or convince them is that if I have zero doubt about what's going to happen in the future, I know for certain, and I can convince them that this is a hundred percent the right choice. And the problem is is that you're never going to be able to do that because there will always be doubt. There will always be fear. And it's okay that you have that doubt. Like you're allowed to still make a decision without knowing how it's going to turn out. Because guess what? That's the only way to make a decision. There's no guarantee for what's going to happen in the future, right? But what you get to decide is like hey, I'm deciding this decision and this path for my life and I will figure it out.

It's so amazing when you can stop explaining and actually take in what they're saying and agree with them and still make your decision, right? It's the most powerful feeling and place to be where somebody is saying like this is crazy, you may regret this. And you're like yeah, you're totally right. I might. I can totally see that this may not pan out the way that I'm seeing it and I'm still willing to try. I'm going to give it a shot and I'll figure it out. I mean, when we can let go of so much of that resistance in that conversation and so much of the need to get them to understand as I went to the fighting, right. And the resentment, this is how you can still have relationships without somebody understanding, without agreeing. Whereas like your parents saying like listen, I get that you love me and you want me to be safe and you're totally right, I have no idea how this is going to turn out. But you know what? At the end of this life, I don't want to be resentful towards you for not doing it because I wanted to make you happy. So like I'm going to try it and I promise you, I'll figure it out. I'll take care of myself. I'll go back and get a job. I'll come back to this industry. I'll go to another industry, whatever it is. I have no idea what's going to happen, but I'll figure it out. And I think when you realize that like that is where your power lies, that you don't have to not have doubt. You don't have to not have fear. And you still get to make that decision. And you don't have to have everybody's agreement and you don't need everybody to like support you. That's when you start making decisions from a place of like what you want, really getting clear. I don't need to run around getting everybody's approval or opinion. What’s a decision I can make right now and have my own back, regardless of what happens?

I want you to repeat this mantra when you are around people and you find yourself explaining, overexplaining constantly, you know, going on and on about it. I just want you to repeat to yourself: it's okay if they don't understand, I understand. It's okay if they don't believe in me, I believe in me. It's okay if they're scared, I'm scared too. You don't have to say it out loud to them but I think it can help really disarm you in that situation. You realize like there doesn't have to be a fight. They can have their fears. They can hold on to them. They can hold onto their thoughts. They can think whatever they want about your life. And at the end of the day, it's still your responsibility to make the decision for your life. And you have to decide if you're going to let their opinions and their fears be the thing that stops you. It's okay if it is, if that's the thing that's going to. Just be honest with yourself, you’re making that decision. And if you don't want that, if you want like to have a loving relationship with your family and still make the decision to do what you want, then you have to let go of the need of having everybody else agree with what it is that you want to do. So I hope you spend that time convincing yourself that you are worth taking these chances, making new decisions, trying new paths and being an example of what's possible when you don't always do what everybody else thinks that you should do. I promise you there's so much freedom and liberation in learning how to do that, in every area of your life. You get to become the parent you want, even though everybody else may not agree with how you parent. You get to become the spouse you want, even though everybody else may not agree about the type of spouse you are. You get to, you know, become the friend, neighbor, uh, daughter, son, whatever that you want to be. Cause you start making a decision based on what it is that you want rather than what everybody else expects. So my friends: stop explaining, stop needing all of belief and approval and go out and give it to yourself. I hope this was helpful and I will see you next week for another episode.

Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes, it'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at Lessons From a Quitter and on Twitter at QuitterPodcast, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.