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“… We all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinions than our own.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
How true is this?
And even if we don’t always love or put ourselves first, we still care about what people think of us to the point where it influences our every decision and every action. Social media has made this much worse, where any posted comment or photo can be pulled apart and ridiculed for all to see.
Do you really want to live your life this way? I know I don’t.
But how to not care what people think is difficult – even at the best of times. If you are ready to let go of what people think about you (or what you think they think), follow these tips to free yourself of this emotional prison.
Why Do I Feel the Need for Acceptance?
Your need for acceptance stems from how us humans are wired. Before the modern era, our survival depended on being part of a tribe and being accepted by said tribe. If you were cast out, your chances of survival were pretty low. You could’ve easily died from cold or starvation, or by being eaten by predators.
This is why your sense of well-being includes approval from others and why you care what people think of you. You desire to be liked and respected, and thus worry about other people’s opinions.
These days, you don’t need to worry about survival if you are cast from your tribe, even if you may suffer from social anxiety at the thought of being “canceled” by people you know and online strangers.
But people are social animals – you need companionship and connection. And thus, it’s not always possible to not care what others think of you. If you grew up with no emotional support or currently have a low self-esteem, you are likely to place more weight on people’s opinions of you.
If only you could be a perfectly logical being, you would understand that worrying about what people think isn’t worth your time. But we are wired to care, and that’s why it is so important to learn how not to care so much about what people think, so you can pursue your sincerest goals and be your authentic self.
7 Tips on How to Not Care What People Think
I myself struggle to not worry about what other people think of me, in my decisions, and my life. It’s a continuous journey that requires mindfulness.
Here’s how you can learn to not care what people think of you:
1. Don’t Assume You Know What People Think
When you think you know what others’ opinions are of you, you are assuming. You can’t possibly know what they think unless you ask them and they honestly share.
A 2016 study found that participants have an idea of how others perceive them; however, for the most part, they don’t know. While the researchers discovered that those who are more emotionally stable and well-adjusted don’t have as much insight into what people think of them, that doesn’t mean that less emotionally stable people are correct.
The fact is that you are most likely wrong when you think you know what others think of you and worrying about how you are perceived only causes stress and anxiety. Plus, it doesn’t improve your life one bit.
2. Not Everyone’s Opinions Are Equal
Another great tip on how to not care what people think about you is to consider the source. Are you worrying about what your mom or dad thinks about you? Or are you worried about the taxi driver, that client you maybe see around the office once a month, or the lady behind the till?
Some people’s opinions have more value than others, and this is a key consideration when worrying what others think of you. For example, your mom expressing her concern about your behavior and depression may be helpful, but a complete stranger commenting on your outfit isn’t.
That being said, no matter who has an opinion about you, your worth in life isn’t contingent on what others think of you or whether you are liked.
You need to do you – regardless of whether you are liked or not. At work, your job isn’t to be liked. It is to do what you are being paid for.
So, keep things in perspective. And remember that while you may be worried about someone’s opinion of you, they might have the same worry.
3. You Are Your Own Worst Critic
You are often your own worst critic. I know I am.
Research even confirms this. A 2019 study states that we think that others judge us much more harshly than they actually do.
I know that I always think that people will always remember that one mistake I made and never focus on or remember the 1,000 of good things I’ve done. And while this is true in some cases, that one mistake is just a blip on the radar. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things; and honestly, everyone makes mistakes.
No one is perfect. I am not. You aren’t perfect. So be kind to yourself.
4. Other People’s Opinions Aren’t Any of My Business
I’ve learned that what other people think of me isn’t actually any of my business. By worrying about what they think, I give them power. Unfortunately, when I care about what others think, I’m attaching myself to an outcome I have no control over.
I don’t have any control over what people do, think, or say about me.
Whether I have the best intentions or make an absolute fool of myself, I can’t control how people will respond. I can only control what I do and how I respond.
I try to remind myself that their thoughts (about me and whatnot) are theirs, while my thoughts about me (which is supposed to matter) are mine. And I should only let my thoughts about me impact my life.
5. Spend Your Energy on Something Positive
When you realize that you have no control over what people think about you and how they respond to what you do, and that it’s none of your business, you may feel freer.
Choose to spend your energy on living in the moment and being you – authentically. You need to accept yourself; this is what true acceptance is all about.
You can’t live your life on the condition that people will like, love, or accept you when you say X or do Y. Rather, follow your true north – do what makes you happy.
And if you don’t know what your true north is, explore and find it. Once you do what you are passionate about, and you love what you are doing, you won’t worry about what others think.
6. Love and Accept Yourself Every Day
Practicing self-love, self-kindness, and self-acceptance are essential for living a happy and healthy life. It frees you from becoming attached to the expectations we think others have of us.
And if someone expresses what they think about you, you can always choose to walk away. You know that you are living your life being true to yourself, that you accept yourself, and that you love yourself, and that’s enough.
You are enough.
Start practicing self-love and self-acceptance with meditation, mindfulness, journaling, breathwork, and finding and doing what brings you joy.
7. Find Your Tribe – Those Who Accept and Support You
If you have people in your life who consistently and constantly judge you, it’ll start negatively affecting your mental health and the quality of your life.
Remedy that by finding your tribe: The people who love you, support you, appreciate you, and fully accept you for who you are, who you were, and who you will be. Your tribe will add to your life, and you’ll find that you can live your life without needing to conform to other people’s expectations, wants, and wishes.
When I found my tribe, I learned that only the people in my tribe’s opinion of me matters – but only because I know what I’m accepted and loved and supported. They only want the best for me (just like I want for myself). And so I can cast out anyone’s opinions that don’t matter.
Final Thoughts on How to Not Care What People Think
“The day you stop caring what other people think of you is the day your life begins” ~ Aaron Eckhart
There are so many variations of this exact same quote, and they are all true.
When you cast the weight of others’ opinions off your shoulders and from your mind, that is the day when you can freely be your authentic self – you can make decisions that are right for you, instead of you being worried about what others think or will think.
I hope you follow these tips on how to not care what people think, so you can live your best life, your way. And if you are finding it challenging to stay true to yourself, then read these “be yourself” quotes to inspire you to stay true.