The #1 in 10 Rule & Separating Tasks: Freeing Yourself from the Drug of Approval

I recently signed up for a 30 day writing course.

This involves sharing a post on social media every day for 30 days.

I’m an introvert by nature, so this has been a bit of a shock to the system for me.

In particular, it’s made me realise just how strongly the opinions of others (good or bad) can affect my own emotional state.

On the days the likes are flowing, I feel great.

But on the days when there’s tumbleweed, I feel terrible.

This experience has made me start to see approval almost like a drug — and one that I have an unhealthy relationship with.

If, like me, you’d like to be less affected by other peoples’ opinions, the following 2 ideas can help:

#1 – The 1 in 10 Rule

I heard an old proverb years ago that has stuck with me since:

“In any group of ten people, you’ll get on really well with two. You’ll be indifferent about seven of them. And at least one person in the group will not like you.”

Strangely enough, we spend all of our mental energy focusing on the one person who doesn’t like us.

We can’t help it.

But simply accepting this fact — that about one person in every ten won’t like us, and more importantly, that they don’t have to like us, frees us from needing their approval.

It also enables us to focus our efforts on the people we are trying to reach with our message.

#2 – Separating Tasks

In the book: ‘The Courage to be Disliked’, Ichiro Kishimi argues that the simplest way to get over our need for approval is to do something known as ‘the separation of tasks’.

Simply put, separating tasks involves drawing a clear boundary between our own tasks, (the things we can control) and the tasks of others (things outside of our control).

When it comes to sharing your work publicly, your task is to do the best job you can.

It is not your task to worry what people will think about it — that’s their task, and their responsibility.

You have no control over it, so you don’t waste mental energy on it.

By cultivating this mindset, your validation comes from the quality of the work you do and the amount of effort you put in. You feel good knowing you gave your best, and are not too concerned by the praise or criticism of other people.

If you can separate tasks, your emotional state depends on factors you can directly control.

If you can’t, then how you feel about yourself will depend on other peoples’ opinions. Peoples’ opinions are kind of like the Irish weather; unstable, unpredictable, and subject to wild fluctuations – probably not a good thing to base your self worth on.

Therefore, if you find yourself worrying about what other people will think, you can break the mental habit by asking yourself: ‘Is this my task?’

If it’s not, then you don’t have to worry about it.

What about you?

How do you avoid being affected by the opinions of others?

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Niall McKeever

Writer and Founder of The Weekend University. Passionate about making great ideas more accessible.

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