It’s Hard Not to Care What Others Think
We all know we would be better people if we could learn how to stop caring what people think of us. It’s a wonder, then, that so many of us can’t help obsessing about the opinions of strangers!
If this is you, know that you’re not alone.
I’ve been there.
I used to cloak myself behind a shield of agreeable character traits and demureness. Don’t be too loud; don’t take up too much space. Keep your wild side from showing. Laugh at their jokes, offer to drive, be the perfect hostess. And make sure you overanalyze every insignificant interaction and beat yourself up about your imperfections!
A recipe for a less than gratifying life. A game plan for depression and anxiety.
I’ve been there, too.
21 Day Mindset
Before we really dive in, I wanted to share with you new training I created to help you start an easy mindset practice! It’s an absolutely FREE 21 Day Guide packed with valuable information about the brain as well as three weeks of easy-to-follow mindset journaling prompts.
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- think positively
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- set realistic goals
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- listen to your inner voice
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I stopped caring long ago…
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t give much thought to what others think of me. I’m independent, incredibly strong-willed, stubborn, and 100% accountable for the decisions I make.
And I’m grateful for these traits. They are what allowed me to:
- Quit my job, sell my car, and leave the country
- Learn a new language
- Have an intercultural relationship
- Live in 2 different countries and thrive
- Launch three different niche blogs in 3 years
- Fail at all three blogging ventures
- Pick myself back up, learn from my mistakes, and start over stronger than before
- Fire my business coach because we weren’t the right match for each other
- Invest money in my business and professional development
- Create a platform I am passionate about and spend every day doing what I love
That’s quite a list! I assure you that none of this would have been possible if I were still obsessing about whether people in my life approved of my decisions. I would still be in a 9-5 grind (well, 8-4 because I was a teacher!), shuffling between my job and my house, without a clear direction for my life. I had to stop caring what people think of me to get where I am today.
The irony? Many of those same people I used to worry about impressing have told me how they wish they were doing what I am doing!
Let’s check out some strategies I offer others when they ask me for advice on how to stop over-analyzing and go for it!
How to Stop Caring What People Think:
The Game Plan
- Learn your insignificance
- Get real with yourself
- Envision and manifest
- Accept accountability
- Do not tolerate toxicity
- Seek counsel, not approval
Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!
Learn Your Own Insignificance
“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.”Olin Miller
This might seem a little contrary after all I said earlier about being independent, fierce, and confident, but hear me out. Realizing my insignificance concerning what others think of me was super freeing, and I want to share it with you!
The thing is, people are not thinking about you half as much as you imagine they are. In fact, it’s a bit arrogant to assume that people spend time pondering your life decisions to the degree that you think they do!
You see, everyone is starring in their own version of the Movie of Life. At best, you’re a supporting character in their production. However, in most cases, you’re probably just an extra!
While some might find this perspective depressing, I personally find it freeing. Because the reality is that fewer people are indeed affected by my decisions. So the less I need to concern myself with their opinion!
Dance like no one’s watching
No one really cares what my personal style is, so that gives me the freedom to express myself through fashion.
Nobody cares about what I’m doing in the gym, so I can do my routine without worrying that people are staring at me.
Not a single person really cares about where or how I spend my money. I can be as frugal or extravagant as I please.
When you get down to it, most of us have a tiny inner circle of people who we truly respect, love, and couldn’t live without. I can count my list of people on one hand.
That’s not to say I don’t have plenty of friends that I care about, but are they people who really care about every decision I make? Do I need to be concerned with living my life in a way that pleases them? Probably not.
Let’s make it personal.
How much time to YOU actually spend passing judgment on other people? Do you sit at home grading their style, their laugh, their life decisions?
I would venture to guess not very much or very often.
Of course, we are going to deal with judgmental people from time to time, but those aren’t individuals you would want to please anyway.
They are just as anxious as you are
There’s no shortage of studies that have found that millennials are, by far, the most anxious generation. I’m not going to explain the reasons why we are anxious. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely well-aware already! (Struggling economy, exorbitant rent, and student loans, just to name a few.)
Over 30% of millennials deal with general anxiety, and 19% are diagnosed with specific forms of anxiety.
So if you ever thought you were alone in your overthinking and social stress, I’ve got news for you! You’re definitely not.
Remember when your parents would give you advice on how to overcome stage fright? I’m guessing they said something like this:
“Just imagine everyone in their underwear.”
As silly as it might seem, it’s an important principle to keep in mind. Most people that you meet are wearing the “underwear” of caring what others think and cover it up with layers of humor, deflection, people-pleasing, or false confidence.
Most people are just as worried about what you think of them as you are! Realizing that we are all struggling to make a good impression should make it easier to approach people with confidence.
Get Real with Yourself
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.Eleanor Roosevelt
In all honesty, your negative thoughts about what people think of you probably have more to do with what you actually feel about yourself.
It’s quite common to project our negative feelings about ourselves onto others, rather than accept responsibility for training our brains to be positive.
Try this exercise:
- Write down everything you believe about yourself
- Make sure to include the good, the bad, and the ugly!
- Analyze your list for patterns, negative loops, and lies
- Cross out anything that is not true
- Cross out anything that does not serve you
- For every statement you crossed out, write a new, positive message
- Reflect on your list of positive truths about yourself
It’s time to let go of the lies you believe about yourself. Only by releasing yourself from them can you stop caring what others think of you. When you wholeheartedly believe in your own worth, value, talent, skill, and beauty, it won’t matter what anyone else has to say. Nothing can bring you down!
Envision and Manifest
How can you know where you are going in life without a clear idea of your destination?
The biggest cause of not completing goals is not setting any!
Most people don’t take time to envision the future, dream big dreams, or set big goals. They are too busy living in the present – doing whatever makes the people around them happy. Instead of taking control of their path, they march forward with no idea where they are going.
And that’s okay. I’ve definitely been there! Some days, I go back to these behaviors because they make me feel safe and comfortable. It’s easier to stay within the comfort of the pack than to strike out on your own and take the road less traveled.
Many folks never stray from the herd for one simple reason.
They have no idea where they would go.
It makes sense, right?
But all this fear and confusion can be solved with some simple goal planning.
I’ve made you a simple goal-setting cheat sheet to start reflecting on what you want and where you are going.
This quick exercise will help you:
- Identify what you truly desire
- Develop a clear vision of your ideal future
- Create a success plan of simple, actionable steps
- Manifest your success with meditation and affirmations
Get it here!
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”Aristotle
Fear of failure is a numbing force that keeps us immobilized from chasing the things we want in life. After all, you can’t fail if you never try!
This is where the power of accountability comes into play. You have to understand that you are going to make bad decisions at times during your life. This is honestly inevitable, and pretending otherwise will only prevent you from taking any risks at all.
Becoming okay with failure is a journey that sometimes lasts a lifetime. But as many famous inspirational quotes will tell you – failure is part of the process. No one gets it right the first time. If they did, they didn’t learn anything along the way.
Take me, for example. I’ve launched and failed three different websites. That means I developed a concept, bought a domain name, designed the theme and layout, created content, and marketed my content and FAILED at it THREE TIMES. Yikes.
But I am entirely okay with that.
I know so much more now than I did the first day I booted up WordPress. It’s almost incomparable the difference between what I knew then and what I know now.
I’m not embarrassed at all of my failures. Some people only ever dream of building a website, so I’m way ahead of them. As the well-known running quote goes:
“No matter how slow you are, you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”
So get your hands dirty. Make mistakes. And be okay with them. People have so much more respect for an underdog than for a sob story. They want to see you succeed. They want to see you grow.
Your only competition is yourself. The only person you answer to is you. Get out there and make things happen.
Do Not Tolerate Toxicity
As much as most people are in your corner and want to see you succeed, there will always be people who would rather see you fail.
Make no mistake, there is only one word for these people:
We all know the type. These are the people who:
- Take credit for your success
- Judge you for your mistakes
- Always compare themselves to you
- Need to “one-up” you every chance they get
- Only listen to respond
- Plant seeds of self-doubt in your mind
- Need your constant approval
- Cut you off from essential people in your life
To stop caring what others think of you, you must run far away from toxic people. Do not tolerate toxicity in your life. It does not serve you or the person you are becoming.
Learn to set boundaries. Identify toxic behaviors. Communicate clearly and draw a line in the sand. Be respectful, but be firm.
You can’t fly when you allow someone else to continually clip your wings.
Seek Counsel, Not Approval
It might be easy to suppose that to not care what others think, you should completely ignore advice and counsel. But that is actually not the case!
There is a difference between caring what people think of you and caring about people.
When we care too much about what people think, we tend to seek approval from them. We want to know that they think we are great, fun, cool, or friendly. We want them to answer our silent question: “Do you think I’m valuable?”
But the confident mind has quite another way of thinking.
The confident person seeks counsel from people they respect. When we stop caring what people think, we are inadvertently investing in a growth mindset. A growth mindset wants to do precisely that – grow and learn. From the sincere desire to grow and learn, it is only natural that we should seek counsel from those in our inner circle.
The inconvenient truth is that we don’t know everything, and that’s okay. We are not supposed to know everything. That’s why human relationships exist – as an exchange of emotion, knowledge, and support.
When you stop caring what people think, you are not saying “kiss my a**” to everyone and everything. You are only releasing yourself from the expectations of those around you – real or perceived.
So listen to the people who care about you. Ask them thoughtful questions and get their valuable insight.
At the end of the day, you are the decision-maker. You are in the driver’s seat, and you are the star of your show, but you’re not an island. We need friends. We all need somebody to lean on.
It’s a Process
Like any good habit, it will take time to stop caring what people think of you. Remember to give yourself grace and to surround yourself with people who love you.
By putting these steps in place, I hope you will find it easier to strike out onto your own path with confidence and excitement. Only great things are ahead!
If you are experiencing serious struggles with depression or anxiety, get in contact with a mental health professional HERE.