Coaching Options
Healing Perfectionism Group
Free Webinar

Let Them Be Wrong About You

negative feelings negative thoughts people-pleasing perfectionism Dec 03, 2022
A woman sits on a mountaintop watching the sunrise by StockSnap of Pixabay

Perfectionism and people-pleasing show up in us in different ways. But one commonality that nearly everyone with these insidious habits shares? Worry about what other people think about them.

This concern underlies nearly every component of the habits of perfectionism and people-pleasing. Why would it need to be perfect if you weren’t concerned that others would judge you? Why does it get under your skin when you get a negative comment online, even if it’s from someone you don’t like? Even if you “don’t care,” about that particular person, I can pretty much guarantee that you care about OTHER people seeing the words, and judging you for them.

It’s easy to miss how much worry this creates in our lives. It shows up in our exam rooms, our interactions with staff, in the messages we send back to patients in MyChart at 10 PM. We care.

And some of the care is good and appropriate. We want to do good work, provide safe, high-quality care to our patients. We want to appear professional and approachable so that we can get to the heart of medical issues.

But, are we able to let go of worry elsewhere?

What if you unintentionally cut someone off in traffic, and they honk at you and yell obscenities as they pass. Do you cringe all day, replaying it in your mind?

What happens when you encounter an upset and demanding patient who insists on inappropriate antibiotics, refuses to answer questions, and says something to the effect of “just write the prescription so I can get out of here!”

When another parent in your child’s class makes a passive aggressive comment near you about “all the store bought items,” at the bake sale, as you are opening the clamshell of cookies you just picked up, do you go into an elaborate explanation, or hang your head in shame, or storm out?

Do you let these times go? Or do you carry them with you?

The truth is that we all encounter times, at work and in other parts of our lives where other people express their opinions, and not always politely, constructively, or aware of the context. And we, who were trained to be highly responsive to feedback, and desirous of being seen as intelligent, warm, and capable professionals are praise-seekers. We want people to like us, to respect us, and appreciate the significant contributions and sacrifices that we have made.

And yet, they don’t always. They may know who you are, and what you do, or they may not. They may see you as a barrier, as an annoyance, as a hack, as a quack, as lazy, as uncaring or any other number of things. Their opinions may be informed by bad experiences in the past, by their 5 minute degree from Google Medical School, their emotional state and their entrenched beliefs.

So what do you want to do in the face of it?

I’d like to invite you to consider something new. I’m guessing this is a new idea for you, because it certainly has been a new idea for me, as a life-long people-pleaser and perfectionist who never thought of herself as such until it was a very serious problem.

Can you let people be wrong about you?

Can you let their opinions and judgments be what they are, without believing it as truth, without overexplaining, or acting against your integrity, or overcompensating.

This doesn’t suggest that you armor up and become robotic. You can still allow yourself the emotions, acknowledge that it hurts or stings or that you feel angry, but then you can redirect yourself with some new thoughts.

“I’m doing the best that I can here, and it’s enough.”

“They seem to be having a really bad day; this isn’t about me.”

“People’s opinions of me belong to them, they aren’t mine to fix or believe.”

You don’t need to condone their words, or allow them to continue to hurl abusive language at you. And please don’t. Depending on the situation you may need to set some clear boundaries, say no, or remove yourself from the situation.

But you can also drop the worry, the mind chatter and the self-chastisement, especially in situations where the person expressing the opinion (the angry/demanding patient, the passive-aggressive parent, the cursing motorist) is NOT your people. They aren’t the patients that you want to attract/welcome/encourage, they aren’t the parent you want to befriend, they aren’t the car you want to drive next too (ok, no choice on this one I guess!). They aren’t for you.

So let them be wrong about you.

And move on.

And that judgy passive aggressive parent? Try looking her in the eye, and giving a little smile. Just for fun. 

Need some help with this? I am giving a webinar/workshop, “Dealing with Negative Feedback” on Saturday, December 10th at 9 AM PST. Join me by registering HERE.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

Schedule your free 1:1 call today

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join my mailing list to receive helpful tips and insights to your mailbox each week, as well as updates about my latest coaching offerings.

Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

I hate SPAM (all kinds really, don't come at me). I will never sell your information, for any reason.