Melanie Jeanne

Finding My Fierce, Free & Full of Fire Self

“A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.” – Maya Angelou

I just finished reading the latest book from Jen HatmakerFierce, Free, and Full of Fire: The Guide to Being Glorious You. It has inspired me fully.

I have spent my whole life as a people pleaser. Worrying what others have thought of me. Working to gain respect through being kind and accommodating. Trying to stay in the good graces of most. Accepting less while chasing my goals for the sake of other peoples more and their goals. Putting myself on the back burner in order to put others first. I have always thought being liked was a worthy accomplishment. I have always thought putting others first would translate into being liked. Twisted thinking, don’t you think?

I am over that kind of thinking. Lately I have been struggling with self worth and self esteem. By lately, if I am being honest, I’ve been struggling since I left corporate America. Having a career meant I had an identity outside of my home, outside of the people I love and independent of caring for those people and spaces. More recently I have been struggling because of all of this time with myself, in the silence of a pandemic. It has sure opened an opportunity to self evaluate and consider where an opportunity for growth lives. Lately I have also been worrying about almost everything that is out of my control. I have had sleepless nights fretting over how I can contribute more. Sleepless nights worrying about how I can take back my identity while staying true to my people. Sleepless nights worrying about others opinions of me and getting lost in the game of comparison. It’s been a lot to feel and a lot to unpack.

Enter Fierce, Free and Full of Fire… I read a lot of personal development books, but this one is one I will reread and revisit time and again. It started me on a journey of discovering who I am going to be in the second half of my life. It also started me on a journey of recognizing where I am already succeeding in my own life and where I need to grow. Twelve chapters of identifying how I am wired and gaining new perspective on where I have sidelined myself in my own life and where I am in the drivers seat and living wholly. I am quite ready for the second half of my life. And for the joy and wholeness that will come with living fully engaged, no longer on the sidelines.

I admit, I am a people pleaser. I worry more about what others may think of me, rather than slowing down to worry about what I actually may think of them. I don’t want relationships made of score keeping, I don’t want a life filled with tit for tat. I absolutely want life filled with strong bonds and deep relationships. As I head into the second half of my life I am ready to live and let live. You be you and I’ll be me. I’ll respect others unique and wonderful selves, and I will not accept anything less than respect for my unique wonderful self in my relationships. Moving forward I am going to give myself just as much grace and forgiveness as that which I give others. Moving forward I am no longer going to be just a people pleaser. I am going to show up as my full, wonderful self. It may work for some, it will certainly stop working for others. Not everyone is for me and I am not for everyone, I am becoming a-okay with that.

Over the course of reading Fierce, Free and Full of Fire I dug deep into my need to please people and studied up on how to stop caring about what others think so much. I was mind blown that every article said the same thing. Caring what people think so much is directly connected to being a people pleaser. I mean, duh, but mind blown.

Here are my 5 top tips on how to stop caring what others think so much. My top tips on how to stop being a people pleaser and start living fully.

  1. Determine your values. Define your priorities.
    This one is hugely important. If it doesn’t light you on fire, if it is not a 90% or more on your priority scale, if it does not align with your core values, if it doesn’t move you in the direction of your dreams; you now have permission to say no. Said differently, if you will leave feeling resent, if it makes you feel badly about yourself, if it adds more stress to your life, if it makes you feel crummy; you have permission to say no. Jen Hatmaker addresses this concept in Chapter 8 – I Want to Choose My Yeses.
  2. Know that what other people think about you is a direct reflection of who they are, not who you are. It is none of your business what their opinion is of you.
    This is a hard one for me to grapple with and here is where the lesson comes in… The opinions others make up about us is not ours to understand nor is it our to influence. Everyone has a right to their very own opinion. When we let others opinions influence how we feel about ourselves, it is time to do a gut check.
    1. Does this person share in my core value system?
    2. Is this a person with an opinion I value and trust?
    3. Do I respect this person enough to give them a say in my life?
    If you can’t answer yes to all 3 with 90% confidence or better, those people carry no merit.
  3. Let them be wrong. 
    I have plenty of people in the tertiary of my life. Those people have made up their minds and have opinions of me. Some are probably fantastic. However, for the sake of this blog, many are probably opinions that aren’t so great, opinions that are wrong and assumed. Opinions made up based on their absolute lack of knowledge of me or assumptions made up about me based on limited or surface level information. Let people who don’t know you be wrong about you. If you don’t even know what their core values are, there is no sense in worrying about what they think of you, they don’t know you and you don’t know them. If they are not part of your 90% or better, their assumptions are most likely 100% wrong as they don’t really know you. They don’t know the you worth really knowing at least. Maybe you just don’t jive. Maybe one of you did the other wrong and no one has done the work to make it right. Maybe forgiveness is not an option. Maybe forgiveness is a work in progress. Do not worry about the opinions of people that are not in your 90%, no matter the reason they aren’t there, they’re not there. Their opinion doesn’t count. Let the opinions they make up about you be wrong and be ok with that, they are not your 90%.
  4. Get off the sidelines of your own life.
    Jen Hatmaker’s Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire spends 12 chapters guiding readers through categories in which one may be sitting on the sidelines of their own lives. Categories broad and roaming such as; how we are wired, our relationships with our blessed bodies, the fact that we all DESERVE goodness, our spiritual curiosity, causes we are willing to learn on and lean into, connecting with honesty and connecting without drama. Bottom line, if we are playing small in any areas of our own lives; 1. we are more likely to worry what others think and get trapped in the game of comparison & 2. We aren’t living wholly. The more we are living wholly, the less we worry about others opinions because we have defined our values, we’ve found our 90%, we know better than to give our power away and the people that surround our life are our people who see us. The people in our lives are those we want to challenge our growth, but also the ones that will pick us up off the bathroom floor when our hearts are broken open and the ones where respect runs so deep their opinions matter, but when opinions differ the love remains.
  5. Life is just too short. 
    It’s just the darn truth. I love this excerpt from I Want to Chose My Yeses…
    “I am halfway through my life, beloveds. I am over the nonsense. I am for love. I am for encouragement. I am for grand gestures and over-the-top celebrations. I am for beauty and adventure and creativity. I am for you. I am for women. I am for the big, scandalous love of God for all us absurd humans. I am for taking myself less seriously. I am for second chances and extravagant gestures. I am for every person described as “a real character.” I say yes to joy and risk. I say yes to inappropriate displays of affection. I say yes to cheering one another on. I say yes to letting garbage go and embracing the good stuff. Life is simply too short to not say yes to these things. If I am lying on my death bed clutching decades of anger, regret, jealousy, and fear, I will be so, so sad.”  

That. Is. The. Good. Stuff.

I am ready to live in the good stuff. I find peace in the fact that I carry no hatred in my heart, there is no room for it. I know where I need to grow; I need to grow in my strong body, in knowing I am exactly enough, in my spiritual curiosity, in this cause or that and growing connection without drama. That being said, I find joy in the fact that I know how I am wired and I love this wild and wonderful girl I am. I love that I know I deserve the good in my life, for all my mis-steps and mistakes, I am still worthy of a wonderful and happy life. I am getting really good at asking for help and seeking more connection that fills my heart. My values have guided my dreams and my yeses and the more I practice authority over my values the stronger my dreams and yeses become. And I am so proud that the relationships I have are ones that connect with authenticity and honesty. I am ready to live the good stuff, yes I am.

Additional reading to spark inspiration – How I Stopped Caring What Other People Think & How to Care Less What People Think About You.

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