We’ve all been there. Someone says something negative about us and immediately anxiety grabs us. We start scolding ourselves: “Why am I like this?! I can’t do anything right!”. We feel unworthy and useless. It is a horrible feeling and has many negative effects on our psyche. Indeed, taking too much interest in the opinions of others can be detrimental for our mental health, causes stress and anxiety, destroys our connection with ourselves because we forget how to decide based upon our intuition and generally just makes life less fun than it’s supposed to be.
However, caring about what other people think about you doesn’t necessarily have to be negative. As social animals we rely on the function of our communities and therefore it’s important to have some set of rules and norms for our behavior. Only with this unspoken social codex can we build stable relationships and groups, as families or companies.
Moreover, the opinions of others can sometimes provide vital information about unhealed parts of ourselves and help us to advance on our journey. For example if someone points out to you that you’ve been mean to your coworker when he asked that dumb question for the third time in an hour, you might find out that you need to work on your patience and compassion.
Caring about the opinions of others only starts to be a problem if you dwell over the opinions too much. When you start relying on others to assure your sense of self instead of just using their opinions for improvement and then letting them go, you get yourself in trouble. That’s where the suffering starts.
If we are insecure and without inner connection we start to search for security on the outside. We think that we need to please others and be prefect in order to be accepted and loved, so we stop acting from our inner source and start to try everything to somehow fit into our chosen picture of a perfect human.
Just to get this clear, that ideal doesn’t necessarily have to be liked by everyone. We often mistake our strive for recognition as originality and our own personality, while in reality we are only trying living up to a standard that we think will make us accepted and worthy of love. So for example a young girl could try to live up to the ideal of the ‘coolest and most carefree party-girl’, a picture that most definitely doesn’t please the girl’s parents but to her seems like an original way to be as it is admired by her teenage peers.
We are constantly trying to live up to a standard that we think will make us accepted and worthy of love.
In this desperate attempt to find belonging and self worth, we struggle to make people like us and think of us in a certain way. As we build our whole sense of self upon how other people see us, we are extremely attached to their options and devastated if someone doesn’t like us or sees us the way we want them to. Because we fear losing this secure sense of self we spent our whole life people-pleasing and trying to live up to an unachievable standard of perfection.
As a result we completely lose the connection to our inner wisdom and knowing, because we only look for outer guidance. But only if we live from our inner source we truly can be happy. Only if we do what brings us joy and happiness will we be content and at peace. This is such a simple truth, yet most people forget about it.
Always remember: We don’t have to gain the right to be loved. We have the right to be loved and we are loved because we exist. No exceptions.
It is easier to understand this intellectually than to really feel it. We all know how hard it is to get out of the mindset of lack and fear.
But hard doesn’t mean impossible and there are many practices that you can do to help you be the best and most authentic (which means free,happy and confident!) version of yourself. I say practices because they need to be done not only once but on a daily basis and with awareness. Only then can you rewire your mind for a more fulfilled life. This takes time and energy but trust me, it’s worth it.
Your life is way too short to be lived in fear of other people’s opinions. And the world longs for you to share your unique gifts and quirks with the world without holding back.
So let’s see what you can do to stop caring about what other people think of you:
- Remember that people are always going to critize you, no matter what
This may not be what you wanted to hear, but it’s true and can set you free if you really understand it. Everything in this life is completely subjective. Literally everything. One person may like what you’re doing while another person absolutely hates it. You can NEVER please everyone. It’s just not possible.
So next time when you notice that you’re afraid of criticism remember that there will definitely be criticism. Even if you don’t do anything at all, someone will still criticize you. There’s no way around it, so you might just do whatever you want. And that is incredibly liberating.
- Remember that nobody thinks about you anyway
Sounds really harsh, but is actually quite liberating too. We spend so much time worrying about what other people may think about us while other people just think about themselves (or what other people may think about them). People are so busy that they most probably don’t even spend a second thinking about you and if they do, it will just be a quick thought which they forget in a blink of an eye. This may make you feel lonely at first, but think about it, if no one thinks about what you’re doing, you can just do anything! You can follow your heart and be wonderfully crazy just as you like without feeling like you’re in the center of attention and have to deliver a perfect show. You’re simply free to be yourself!
- Grow your self love
Self love is one of the most important parts of overcoming the fear of the opinions of others. As most of this attachment to external feedback comes from insecurity, it is extremely important to build confidence and a strong sense of self. This can be done by working on loving yourself. Building self love is a quest on its own and superduperhyper important for everything in life. You can grow your love to yourself actively by various techniques such as positive affirmations (google it), doing what you love, caring for yourself, thinking positively, resting when you need it, listening to your intuition and so much more. If you need more help on how to love yourself more, just search the internet, especially YouTube, there are so many helpful informations. For example you can check out this Video by the lovely InfiniteWaters.
- Celebrate yourself
You want acceptance and recognition? Well, then give it to yourself! Seriously, you’re the only person who truly needs to approve of what you’re doing. So celebrate every little success. Congratulate yourself for getting out of bed today. Give yourself a pat on the back for finishing that assignment or working out. Celebrate your kindness and good looks. Just be proud about everything that you are. You are perfect and exactly the way you should be.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously, it’s all just a a game
Yes of course, you are a miracle and your life matters. But still, in the end you’re going to leave this place and literally none of those external values will matter anymore. In the long run, all your perceived failures or success will be forgotten. The only thing that will really matter is if you enjoyed the time you spent here on earth. So of course you should still be ambitious and try to improve yourself and your life, but take it lightly and with a sense of play, for it is just a game and you won’t get out of here alive anyway.
- Ditch perfectionism
Sorry to inform you, but you can never reach objective perfection because that doesn’t exist. And you don’t even have to. The authentic you with your edges and quirks is far more valuable to this world than any perfect person could ever be. We need your original gifts and talents and not your stress. And stress is the only thing you get when you try to reach perfection. Perfectionism takes the fun out of everything because it makes you feel unworthy all the time. Moreover it may stop you from even trying because you’re afraid that you can’t live up to your expectations.
So always remember: If you do something, do your best but forget about perfection because that’s bullshit. And never forget to have fun!
- Release negative mind patterns
Lastly, it is really important to release the negative mind patterns surrounding this issue. After all, you think the way you think due to your minds conditioning. So in order to really tackle the problem you need to rewire your mind. That can be done by the practices described in this post and by reprogramming your mind with positive affirmations. If you want to learn more about positive affirmations and their utility, check out this post.
This life is yours and you’re the most important person in it. Don’t let this gift slip out of your hands. Enjoy it fully. Don’t let others dictate what you should do, follow your heart and I promise you will be much more joyful.