How to Stop Worrying About What People Think of You
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”—Lao Tzu
We are all by nature desirous of being accepted, approved and appreciated (Les Giblin – How to Have Power and Confidence in Dealing with People). We all want people to like us and we all hope that what we do or say will be pleasing. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with feeling this way. However, we need to be careful not to allow this natural tendency to become the sole reason we do what we do or control our decisions. Added to this natural desire is the fear of rejection if we are not liked or if we displease people. We get caught in a trap of wanting to live authentically and feeling guilty for not living according to expectations of others.
For some of us, there is a constant fear of what other people will think that many or even all of our decisions are made in order to placate others or being different. Some people are deathly afraid of thinking or doing things in opposition to everyone else. They are so afraid of loss (maybe of a job, relationships or opportunities) because of displeasing someone that they cave in and make decisions that run counter to what they would really like to do. Sometimes this focus on what other people think can even sabotage our future opportunities and rob us of our dreams.
We know that we shouldn’t care about what other people think, but, somehow we continue to care. Somehow we continue to let them affect our decisions and influence the way we think. So how can we get out of this unproductive behavior? First, it is good to see how it hinders us and then adopt some strategies for breaking out.
What Worrying About What Other People Think Will Do
- It will sabotage your potential (talents, beliefs, goals, values and well being)
- It will make you want to play it safe and cause you to remain fearful
- It will keep you in the mindset of fearing ridicule and rejection
- It will prevent you from taking risks
- It will keep you from being authentic
- It will not solve your problems and will probably create new ones
- It will keep you in a people-pleasing cycle
- It will disempower you
How to Stop
Concentrate on the Present
The present is all we have and really all that matters. When we concentrate on what is happening right now, what we are doing now, then it is hard to think about what other people might be thinking about us. We shouldn’t try to borrow problems that might not even exist. And when we spend our time and energy on other people who probably aren’t even thinking about us, we miss out on the blessings of the present moment.
2. Remind Yourself that Life Is Short
We know this is true, but very often we get so caught up in busyness and distractions that we forget that we only have one life and that we need to live it well. We simply do not have time to be wasting on worrying about anything. When we care too much about the opinions of others, we are giving control of our life over to them, We are disempowering ourselves. Our time, our life is so precious and we need to live it as we choose and according to our vision. We do to know how long we have so we need to make it count.
3. Remember that You Are The Best Expert on Yourself
No other person is an expert on your life but you. What other people think you should do or think about you is completely irrelevant; they are not living your life. You have your own experience, you know what your hopes and dreams are and what you like and don’t like. Does it really matter what other people think of how you live your life? And more importantly, it’s it really any of their business? On the same note, what others may or may not think about you is none of your business either.
4. Keep the Main Thing The Main Thing
This advice from Stephen Covey in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a very important thing to do. When we have a clear focus or vision, when we have clear priorities and guiding values and beliefs, we have no need to care what other people think and we don’t allow them to distract us or by changing our focus. The main thing is the main thing and everything else is a useless distraction. Keep your eyes on the big picture, the long term goals and you won’t worry about the opinions of others.
5. Keep A Healthy Perspective
It is hard to have a clear perspective when you are in the middle of a storm. When you have little to no clarity of vision, values, and beliefs, it is easy to get tossed around by the values and beliefs around you. People will always have opinions and viewpoints based on their own experience, beliefs, and values, which may or may not fit you or your life. One way to have perspective is to imagine what I like to call the “helicopter perspective” Try to visualize everything from thousands of feet above and see if this changes how you see things.
6. Stop Overanalyzing
Overanalyzing is just the action of ruminating over and over. There is nothing positive or productive about analyzing every possible angle. This behavior can lead you down a bottomless rabbit hole and may even cause you to attribute negative intentions to other people. It could drive you bat crazy as you micro-analyze every action, word, facial expression or decision of other people. And it will most likely give you a very blurry image of reality. Just move on and take everything with a grain of salt.
7. Know that Most People Aren’t Actually Thinking About You
It is crazy how our imaginations work overtime to create scenarios that don’t even exist. The reality is that people are thinking only about themselves most of the time. We may be thinking that they are analyzing our decisions or behaviors, but, they may actually be thinking of what to make for dinner. And even when they do give us their advice or opinions, these are just based on their own experience and beliefs and may even change. In many cases, they may not even have a vested interest in your life.
8. Remember: You Can’t Please Everyone
If there is one thing that is impossible it is that we can not please everyone. Some people will click with us and others won’t. People will think what they want to think and it is not our job to make them happy or agree with them just to make them happy. Trying to be a people pleaser is a frustrating, futile and energy-draining pursuit. It is like spinning our tires trying to move forward. Trying to please people also takes power away from you since it puts what other people think in control of what you will do or say. We should be taking care of ourselves; let others make their own selves happy.
9. Focus On Your Own Goals and Dreams
We only have one life and that one life belongs to us and not others. It is our responsibility to live it in the best way possible. No one should be in the position of controlling or deciding how we will live. Sometimes we feel that just because a person is in a position of authority that they automatically have decision control over our lives, but this is not true. Our goals and dreams belong to us and we decide how our life will play out. By focusing on our goals and dreams, we do not have to be dependant on what others may think about us or wish for us.
We don’t even need to care what other people think. It doesn’t matter. Our life is ours to live and it does not belong to others. Don’t give any control over to other people by worrying about their opinions or impressions. You do not need to please anyone or live for others. Most of the time people are not even thinking of us at all.
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Diane Lynne enjoys traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her at livingandstuff.ca