Whether it is becoming plugged into our identity, quitting alcohol or even becoming more confident, our worry of what people think can really affect us. From the jobs we choose, to the people we date and the risks we take, we often limit our actions through fear of criticism or judgment from others.
This is a serious issue, and a problem many people experience, therefore I’ve taken my personal experience and the advice of others to reveal the secrets to not caring what people think.
Why we Care what people Think
First of all, I want to say that sometimes caring what people think is not a bad idea; the part of our mind that produces this fear is often in place to protect us. For example, if we didn’t care what anybody thought then we might go out and kill somebody or run through shopping centers completely naked. These are extreme examples but should help you understand why the mindset is in place.
I’ve spent months trying to understand why we care what people think, and as (surprisingly) usual, the answer is relatively simple and the heart of what this website is about. The reason we care what people think is because we base our identity on their judgments of us, positive or negative. Because we think that part of our identity is how people view us (funny, cool, confident, shy) then we must protect that so that our identity is not affected.
What people say about you is none of your business
- Sean Stephenson
Of course, your identity is not what people think of you, it is just…you. If you are doing something that makes you feel guilty within, then this is something you will have to deal with beforehand.
How to (partially) not Care what People Think
Personally, I don’t think it is possible to completely stop caring what people think of us, and I don’t think that is such a bad thing. We are social creatures and that is how we learn, if we are acting like an idiot and someone notices then informs us, we may realise that we could have been acting more appropriately.
I realise that this is a very important topic to a lot of people – myself included – and therefore I have gone into detail with the following information to ensure that there is enough content to answer most questions and concerns. I was surprised to find that there are nearly 4,000 people on 43things.com that wish they could stop caring what people think.
Imagine how different the world would be if we could all push to do the things we want to do, be the people we want to be and live how we want to live. Imagine how different the world would be if we were all plugged in…that is the aim of this business.
1. Stop Over-thinking
Although this is a website about empowering the readers, you are not the most important person in the world, at least not to others. It is probably in the majority of occasions that you think you are being judged where people don’t actually care for the thing you are worrying about. Do you judge every single person that you meet, probably not.
If you do, you might want to sort out that side of your life first as there’s no wonder you care what people think of you. The best way to test it is to push your limits a little, do something that is a bit out of the ordinary for you and see how people react. Chances are that only your “friends” might notice the change and make comments, but a random stranger really won’t care.
2. Put things into perspective
To people that aren’t naturally concerned what others think about them, having an issue with it seems quite strange or even silly. The reason is that when you put ‘issues’ like this under the microscope you can see they are really not worth having. You only get ONE chance at life in the physical world and you are going to allow other people’s thoughts make it less enjoyable?
Sounds silly now doesn’t it.
Apart from the fact that life really is too short to worry about things like this, the other aspect is that people’s feelings change. For example, say one moment people insult you for wearing yellow trainers, therefore you think they shouldn’t be worn and that is the last time you wear them. What if this persons opinions change, and they start wearing yellow shoes themselves; is that the only time you’ll put your trainers back on?
I used to know a boy who was bullied for growing his hair long, yet within 6 months, more than half the boys in my year (including those who insulted him) grew theirs as well. People change their minds, so what they judge you on now might not matter in the future. Are you going to wait until something is deemed cool or acceptable to be the person you want to be? Hopefully questions like this help you put things into perspective.
3. Be confident in your actions
Seeing as it’s likely we’ll always have some thought towards the feelings of others, what if we could really eliminate the amount of times it happens? Well, you can. The trick, if you want to call it that, is to simply be more confident in the decisions and actions you are taking.
Have you never seen someone that might be wearing something out of the ordinary or acting different to the surrounding crowd but things just seem normal and they aren’t being judged?
If you are wearing yellow shoes and are clearly uncomfortable in your choice then people are going to target you because they can see that and they probably want to feel good about themselves. However, if you can wear the shoes with pride and confidence, whilst clearly not caring what other people think then you’ll notice the negative reactions to be very small if any.
4. Learn to control your emotions
When you start to try things like pushing your limits or simply being more confident, you will undoubtedly have mixed emotions in your head. From stress, worry and fear, to relief and happiness, it can be a bit of a mind roller coaster; that is where controlling your emotions comes in.
The simple practice I learned from Eckhart Tolle goes a bit like this:
- Be conscious of an emotion inside you i.e. fear or worry
- Observe it within your mind
- Notice that if you are observing it, it can’t be a part of you
- Watch the emotion disappear
As soon as you observe an emotion, you are separating yourself from it and thus it can no longer exist.
5. Accept yourself for who you are
If you are constantly judging yourself then there will be no doubt to the fact that you’ll judge what other people think of you. The main cause for this is often self-limiting beliefs or society has made you think there is something wrong with you. Understandably, accepting yourself is not the easiest thing to do but there are things that help.
First of all, think of all the things that you don’t like about yourself and write them down. Now, look at them more closely and see if there is a possibility to change them. For example, if you are thin and don’t like that, then look at ways in which you can gain weight and bulk up. However, If you wish you were taller, it’s not exactly something you can change. For this, look at what could be worse, for example if you are 5″ 7′ and really don’t like that, just think that at least you are not 8″ 7′ or even 5″. You might not be at your perfectly desired height but there are people “worse off”.
These things are more of a temporary solution, as if you constantly look towards helping yourself by seeing people who are worse off or looking to change yourself, you can never accept you. As time goes by and you realise how unimportant the things you thought were actually are, things get easier and your level of caring plummets rapidly.
The best way to deal with this is to allow this article to change your mindset and look for other areas of your life to focus on rather than caring so much about the opinions of others. Most importantly, don’t forget the points made here and the examples accompanying them. My main message of inspiration is that life is too short to spend time worrying over things you can’t control, and issues that other people actually have.
I want to leave you with a video I highly recommend you watch, and one I promise you’ll find both inspirational and motivational: