Admit it – you care a lot about what other people think.
Don’t worry, it’s natural. We’re hard-wired to crave acceptance and social approval – it’s in our DNA.
That’s why disapproval stings and rejection hurts so much. It’s also why we get lonely. But let’s face it – we’re all guilty of spending too much time obsessing over how other people perceive us, instead of simply living our best lives.
What would my colleagues say if I turned up to work dressed like this?
No one can ever know I listen to this band. What would they think of me?
What does doing this/watching this/thinking this say about me?
Let’s be honest. We all think along these lines every day, and you need to stop caring about what people think – once you know what you are doing is right/proper. Worrying about people’s opinion needs to stop because it’s ruining our lives. Maybe while reading this post, you know you obsess over what people think, and you’re tired of it. You long to be free from such thoughts.
Well, I’ve got great news for you.
You can stop caring about what people think about you right now. How is this possible, you’re probably wondering. Don’t worry. It’s really, very simple.
No one really cares about what you’re up to, anyway
There’s not a single person out there who cares about the intricacies of your daily life, the way you think they do. That’s the problem with the ego – we all have it, and we all believe we are special enough to occupy someone’s every waking thought. Truth is, that’s just not possible.
Everyone’s more interested in what’s going on in their own lives than in anyone else’s.
We all see the world, and everything in it, from our own unique perspective. That means we spend a lot of time obsessing over what’s important to us, what’s normal for us, and if anyone’s judging us. Do you see the problem here?
We’re all thinking the same thoughts. When you’re concerned about what other people think about you, that same person worries over what you think of them. The reality, then, is that they’re probably not thinking negatively about you at all. Crazy, isn’t it?
Even crazier is this cool fact – we each have at least 50,000 individual thoughts a day. That is a lot of thinking. Over half of these thoughts are negative, and many of them are repetitions of those we had the day before. Our brains like routine, apparently – even unhealthy ones.
What does this mean, then?
People think many negative thoughts about themselves, so they’re too busy worrying about their own lives to judge yours.
And people think the same things repeatedly, whether it’s about their problems or their passions. So that one fleeting thought they had about you doesn’t stick around very long.
Unless you affect someone significantly or you do something which directly affects their lives, those one or two judgmental thoughts they might have will go right out the window. Worrying about how anyone else sees you is a complete waste of time – and only adds to your negative thought cycle.
Maybe you’re not convinced yet. That’s okay. Here are some examples which might make matters clearer.
Going on a date
You’re in a restaurant, and you’re worried about [insert negative thought of your choice here]. The menu is a minefield, and all you can think is, do I have spinach in my teeth?
Guess what – your date’s thinking these thoughts too. Even if a sly slither of lettuce gets stuck in those teeth, your partner will just be glad it didn’t happen to them (See how we turn everything back to ourselves?)
Using the gym
You look around at all these people who seem like they were born knowing how to lift weights or sprint on the treadmill. Your thoughts go something like this:
I will look so stupid trying this. Best, I don’t bother.
I’ve been staring at these instructions for two whole minutes, and I still can’t turn this thing on. Everyone must be judging me now.
What if I do something wrong, and it’s loud, and everyone turns around and notices?
I’m exhausted just typing these thoughts. Because guess what? Everyone’s too busy with the exact same thoughts. Maybe we should all just, I don’t know… stop self-obsessing and help each other or something.
You won’t get any thanks for it
As you can see, obsessing over how other people perceive you is the definition of time-wasting. Even if someone judges you, the thought isn’t even significant to them, let alone you. This brings us to our next point.
No one asked you to care about what they think of you, so they won’t thank you for living your life like this.
Sure, your parents, significant other and close friends, might hope you weigh their opinions against your own. Your boss probably wants you to remember how they’d feel if you turned in work late, and had a party in the conference room. But in reality:
No one’s sitting there expecting you to live your life based on how they see you.
No one’s on the subway thinking wow, I’m so glad he or she is choosing only fashions I approve of.
No one will come up to you and say, thanks for making all your decisions today based on how I, an anonymous person in the street, feel about it!
I think you got the picture.
Just in case, let’s put it this way – if no one thinks about your daily life choices very much, and no one asks you to dictate your life around their approval, then why do you bother about what they think?
Stop trying to please everyone
I touched on this one above, but it’s worth repeating. Even if you will, to a degree, care about what certain people think about you, you will not please everyone. It’s just not possible.
There are over 7.6 billion people on this planet right now. Every single one of them has their own unique opinions, beliefs, and contributions to make to this world. No one is exactly the same.
For everyone who approves of you and your life choices, many people don’t. This is the same, no matter how perfectly you try to lead your life and how conscious you are, of everyone else’s thoughts and feelings.
Although we could all please everyone in an ideal world, it’s simply not reality. Worrying about what people think, means spending your entire life knowing that somewhere out there is someone who would judge you. That’s exhausting, and it’s no way to function healthily. Stop trying to please everyone.
Worst-case scenario – someone judges you and decides, based on one random thought they have about you, that they wouldn’t want to be your friend or have anything in common with you.
I’m sure that with over 7.6 billion people on the planet, that this one person isn’t much of a loss. Instead, focus on surrounding yourself with people who respect you for owning yourself and living by your own game plan.
People-pleasers are actually less appealing to most people
Ah, one of the great ironies in life. The more you try to please everyone, the fewer people like or respect you.
When all you do is accommodate other people’s thoughts and feelings, everyone else just sees you as a pushover. A doormat. While I say you shouldn’t mind what people think, having everyone see you as a soft touch should be an exception, because:
If you’re a people-pleaser, everyone sees you that way and views you negatively because of it.
You attract people who will abuse this quality, which will only dampen your self-esteem and autonomy more. And.
You invite other pushovers into your life, which creates very challenging relationship dynamics.
People-pleasing will make you lose sight of what you want and how important your opinions and thoughts are. Don’t do this. As we’ve said before, no one will thank you for it, anyway.
To recap: You shouldn’t care what people think once you know you’re on the right track. Because it’s a waste of time. You can’t please everyone, and no one respects you for trying. Embrace the fact that no one cares about how you live your life as much as you think.
Now, I’ve covered the reasons why worrying about what people think is toxic. How do you take back control and stop worrying so much?
Work out who you are
This sounds obvious, but how many of us take the time to connect with ourselves and find out who we really are? An effective way to stop wasting your time, with what other people think, is to understand yourself and be passionate about what you believe in. You should know:
What matters to you most in life. Are you driven by money, freedom, family, or fighting for causes you believe in? Ask yourself a question – what would I do for the rest of my life if money wasn’t an issue? A simple question like this provides illuminating answers.
Who matters to you the most. Most of us only have a few friends and family we consider ourselves “close” to. Who are they, and what do they stand for? Surrounding yourself with people who have similar values to your own will make you happier in the long run. Why? Not just because they’re more likely to approve of you – instead, it’s because you have intrinsic beliefs in common.
What you want to achieve in life.
Maybe you want to raise a family, travel the world, make a difference, get famous, or simply be happy inside. Once you know that what you want is ethical and proper, it doesn’t matter what your life goal is. What matters is that you own it. Once you love who you are and what you want – why should you care about what other people think?
Make positive changes
Make changes to your life that align with the goals you’ve discovered above. Remember – your happiness is just as important as anyone else’s, and you should own what makes you unique.
What happens when you embrace “you”? You attract positive influences and people who respect you. Self-assured, confident people are naturally appealing to others, and you’ll find that more of the right opportunities and contacts come your way.
Dump negative influences
Those friends you’re always worrying about impressing. That person who takes you for granted. The clique who make you feel embarrassed about what inspires you – get rid of them.
Once you stop thinking about fitting in with whatever they want, you’ll become a happier version of yourself.
Freeing yourself from toxic influences frees up more of your time for what matters to you. Sounds like it’s worth a shot.
Find others who don’t care about what others think
Whether you know them in real life or simply follow them on social media accounts, surround yourself with people who reinforce how important it is to not care about what people think. Life gets tough sometimes, and it’s easy to forget what matters to you. Filling your news feed with positive energy, socializing with other self-assured people, and reading uplifting books will help you stay on track.
Try something new
When you’re embracing your new zero-care-given lifestyle, you don’t just need a new attitude – you need to try new things. Trying new things is shown to:
Boost morale and self-confidence.
Expand your horizons.
Improve your social network.
Improve your overall satisfaction with life. And.
Teach you more about yourself than staying in your comfort zone ever will.
Whether you start small or go large, do something daring today. Wear that bright, bold shirt you love, but don’t have the courage to wear yet. Start that beneficial lifestyle you like, with no concern about what your friends will think. Start a blog and share your views. Ask that cute commuter who you see every day out to lunch.
Maybe you’ll be acting “out of character,” but that’s only if you’ve been portraying a certain identity to the outside world, which isn’t the real you. Acting out of character can also be a good thing – it will reveal sides of you that you never knew existed.
What’s the worst that can happen, anyway? We think you already know the answer to that.
Bucket lists should be a priority
Think of all the different things you want to try, and all the places you want to go to. Instead of just dreaming about them, write them all down somewhere and create a plan of action. Maybe you can’t afford to travel the world right now, but what can you do instead? Writing things down will help you see what matters to you and give you something to focus on.
And when someone asks you what kind of things you’re hoping to do over the next few years? Answer them honestly. If you’ve got a quirky hobby, a lifelong passion for something less common, or you are desperate to act “out of character,” own it.
Most people secretly wish they didn’t care so much about what other people think. They want to be more like you – a strong, self-assured individual who can’t care less about people’s uninformed remarks. Because life’s too short to waste it, worrying about what that guy on the subway thinks of your bright orange shoes.
Travel somewhere on your own
If there’s one sure way to kick you out of your comfort zone and stop caring about what people think, it’s traveling alone. Some people think there’s a “stigma” attached to this – if you’re one of these people, that’s all the more reason to try it. We’re back to the same problem – if you worry about what other people think, you’re not living your best life. And no one’s got time for that.
If you don’t have the resources to travel far, go somewhere which won’t break the bank. Plan out what you want to see and do and go do those things. Take selfies if you want and post them online when you return – show people what a great time you had on your own.
If you can’t afford to travel right now or can’t get time off work, that’s okay. There are still plenty of adventures you can have on your own.
Go anywhere on your own
Like I said, traveling isn’t the only option – especially if it’s not something you’re into. Just do it on your own. Show yourself that you can enjoy your own company. And that you believe in yourself enough to go wherever you want, on your own. You could:
Visit a museum.
Go to a restaurant alone – you can enjoy it!
Go see a sports game on your own.
The world’s at your fingertips, folks. Don’t waste the opportunities because you’re scared of what other people might have to say.
Your life is yours to live – and yours alone. By embracing your zero-care-given philosophy, you’ll become the best version of you… and who knows, you might even inspire others to do the same.
Don’t let others’ opinions prevent you from doing what you know to be reasonable and beneficial. Live your best life without caring so much about what others think. Good luck.