All humans want to feel accepted, is a nearly universal desire. But at one time or another, we’ve all been guilty of caring too much about what other people might think. Therefore, we do not always do the things we want to do because we are anxious about what others may think.
It’s normal to care what important people in our life, people we love and respect, think about us. And It’s beneficial to have opinions from these people to tell us if we’re doing something wrong, or to encourage you to take a risk.
But if caring too much makes us stressed or we live our life by others’ expectations, it may be time to push back.
If we really do care what other people think, telling our self that we shouldn’t take it so personally or to stop caring isn’t actually going to work because it isn’t a conscious choice. In the same manner, If you know somebody who really cares what other people think, telling them they shouldn’t care so much, isn’t actually going to prevent them from that.
But why we take it so personally?
Psychologists argue that this attitude may derive from our childhood. When we were very little, and we did something that was “wrong” or “bad” our parents treated us as if we were bad. It wasn’t about the action. We learned it really was about us. Doing something wrong made us wrong.
Doing something bad made us bad. Our self-esteem was essentially dependent on approval and now we have serious issues with rejection, negative criticism and disapproval. In fact, our self – esteem still dependent on approval.
Even we do not realize what we do, every disapproving thought or word or action, directed at us by others penetrates us straight to our core. We are more than affected by it. We feel destroyed by it. We would love to be unaffected by other people’s thoughts and words and actions, but let’s face it, we’re affected badly.
On the other hand, If we stop caring about what other people think of us, we separate ourselves from each other. We also deprive ourselves of the opportunity to see things from another perspective, in a different light. We all need to know how others view us, in order to be balanced and in harmony with how we affect them.
Of course, there is a difference between caring what other people think and letting our entire self-concept ride on what other people think. Too much caring about what people think can lead us to value only what others want from us, rather than what we desire and need. And the irony is that what starts out as an effort to ensure our happiness and acceptance can end up doing the opposite.
Here are 10 tips to help you evaluate others people opinions and stop worrying about what they think.
1. Acknowledge that you take everything personally
You cannot accept criticism. You don’t admit that you are interested in what others think about you and that you have a very low self-esteem. But, we have to admit where we are, in order to move forward.
Many people are suppressing the fact that they do have low self-esteem or that they do care what others think because we believe that, this truth is unacceptable. And as long as we’re in resistance to where we are, we will not move on.
However, enlightened people don’t think that way. Remember there is no one who doesn’t care what others people think because everyone has at least one person whose opinion seriously matters to them.
2. Validate yourself
Validation is the confirmation that something is logically or really correct. It is the recognition and acceptance that your feelings and thoughts are true and real to you, regardless of logic or if they make sense to anyone else. This develops a strong sense of self that does not depend on other people.
In our childhood, validation by parents helps us to feel and express our feelings, develop a sense of self-confidence, be more connected to our parents, and have better relationships in adulthood. But if our parents concerned more about approval and disapproval, right and wrong, punishment and reward, they did not validate us.
So for those of us who are crushed by what other people think, our parents in their lack of awareness have really done a lot of damage. Now it’s up to us to validate ourselves. To validate yourself you need to acknowledge the truth of your own internal experience.
We have to abandon the idea if this internal experience is right or wrong because validation has nothing to do with whether it’s right whether it’s wrong.
3. Hurt people hurt people
People often behave in the only way they know how. So, even if you do your best to be kind and attentive, you may still be judged negatively by others. This is not a reflection of your mistakes, it is a reflection on where the others are coming from.
Recognizing this can help you become a bit more compassionate towards others and, therefore, reduce your concern about what others think about you. However, this idea should be applied with caution. As we know it’s easy to blame others for one’s own failings.
So, you will want to make sure that you aren’t brushing aside your actual shortcomings just to make yourself feel better. In other words, it’s important to be very honest with yourself.
4. Increase your self-worth
Anything that increases your self-worth or your self-esteem is going to work to help you to stop caring what other people think.
Make a list of all the things that you like about yourself and another of things you’d like to improve. In this process don’t involve anyone else’s opinions. Regardless of whether somebody else says something good or bad about you, the problem is still, that we leave what they say to be the basis of our entire self-concept. So, try to make this list from the side of a third person.
Accept things about yourself that you can’t change. Such as some external features. Try to think about special things about yourself that other people would likely envy and want to imitate.
You are not born in a state of doubt about your own self-worth. Nobody is born innately doubting whether they can do something. This is a learned behavior. It’s what happens when people start covering over your self-worth.
Related reading: Scientific Studies on Positive Thinking – Opens in new tab.
5. Don’t take immediate action
If you’ve been hurt. You are prone to knee-jerk reactions that will actually hurt you even worse. So, consider doing something radical first, listen. After that, when you feel less emotionally charged, respond to them in order to clarify the situation, and tell them how their words or actions make you feel. (Further Reading: React vs. Respond – Difference, Examples, How to do it)
Try to find a meeting of minds, if it becomes clear that a person can’t respect you and insists on creating a situation over and over again, that’s meant to make you feel bad about yourself, personally attack you, insulting or belittle you, or constantly attempt to debate you, this is abuse and you need to rethink the relationship. Regardless of whether this person is a relative or not.
6. Recognize other people’s true motivations
Another thing you can do is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to figure out what they’re thinking, and feeling, and why they’re doing those things. How is what they are doing really about them. Consider the person’s insecurities.
Maybe they feel threatened by you in some way. Or this is the way they treat all people. Perhaps they lack certain social skills and feel that the only way they will be heard is by being rude or by bullying you to do what they need. Perhaps they think that by making you look bad, they will look good and so will win the love of other people.
Imagine that to all people there is an inner child acting out who has not matured to the point where they understand the best ways to meet their needs. If you figure those things out, their actions will make sense, and you will see that their actions really weren’t as much about you or something that you did wrong, as you think.
We don’t want to use this as an excuse to not look at ourselves, or to not develop self-awareness. What we want to do, is to use this as a way of understanding why people do the things that they do.
7. You Can’t Please Everyone
The fact is, that we can’t please everyone. Neither it is possible to be liked by all people. If we try something like that we will end up exhausted and unsatisfied, while still probably won’t be liked by everyone.
Recognizing this fact will help you to free your attention from what everyone thinks because if you do, you will always find something or someone to worry about.
Not caring at all about what other people think, isn’t easy. But on the other hand, is wasting our valuable time and energy on things that are often out of our control.
Related reading: The Power of No: Tips to Build Healthy Boundaries – Opens in new tab.
8. Use your power of freedom
So, you will never be able to make everyone like you, no matter what you do. No one else can do it, either. Accept this fact and focus your energy on a goal that will take you further toward being the kind of person you want to be.
Allow yourself to try new things, to make your own choices about your relationships, career and everything else. Use your power of freedom and learn to like yourself, to be true to yourself.
9. Find those who want to be with you
It is certain that there are people who can identify with you and appreciate you for who you are. Don’t waste your time trying to please those who expect you to comply with their wishes. Instead, be yourself and move on to find those who want to be with you.
10. Remove sources of negativity
Clean your life of negative, toxic people. If your coworkers, friends or even a relative have a tendency to tear you down, avoid them. Place your boundaries. What it means is, that you’re committed to your own personal identity and you are going to do what it takes to be happy. Do the same in any situation including the online resources – like social media.
There is a famous quote that says: “What Other People Think About Me Is None of My Business!”
The reality is that you have no control over what people say, do and think about you. Your intentions do not guarantee their response. So, learn and accept the above quote.
All these tips are easier said than to be done. This is not an instant transformation that will happen during the night. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just like anything else you want to master, it will require consistent practice. So, be kind and forgive yourself if you fall back and find yourself worried about what other people think.
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Featured Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash