We all, at one stage or another in our lives, stopped and asked ourselves, “What do others think of me?” It is impossible to detach from dealing with that question because we conduct our lives inside a circle of interactions with others.
Ignoring from what others think of you is actually an anti-social move because it can work against you. For example, not caring for your boss’ opinion can lead to your dismissal and it is not serving you in any way (unless you don’t want this job). On the other hand, obsessive preoccupation of others’ opinions don’t do you grace and bring you into a maze of losing your self-identity.
Like anything else in life, balance, proportions, and wise doses are a must. Once you realize when people’s opinions should interest you and when complete ignorance is necessary, then you are on the right track.
This kind of understanding will improve your self-esteem. You will feel worthy and valuable, regardless of what others say or think and you’ll be able to create social interactions based on honesty and truth.
So how can you stop worrying about what others think of you and still manage normal relationships without considering yourself selfish or sociopathic?
1. Don’t fall into the assumption trap – When you are contemplating what others think, you tend to assume what they think. You think you know, but, in fact, you don’t. You start to believe in it and your behavior will change according to the first assumption you make.
The problem is that our brain will always try to justify this assumption, it will complete a gap of information and will build a story around this assumption.
For example, your college friend didn’t say hi in the hallway. If you tend to worry about what others think, you might assume that he is mad. Then your brain will complete stories and connect between unrelated situations. What if he didn’t see you? What if he was preoccupied with something else? What if he was in a hurry? Not everything is about you, so don’t jump to quick assumptions.
Don’t make assumptions, because you don’t know. If you are not sure about something, ask. If you cannot ask, stop yourself and ask, “Is it true? Could it be something else?” After you realize that there could be many answers to that, you’ll know it’s pointless to deal with what others think because basically, you have no clue.
2. Know your personal values – you need to know what is important to you in your life, what you really value and eventually, what you are going to do. When you know who you are and what truly matters to you, what others think of you will become way less relevant. It could be that others will judge you because your principles will not sit tight with their narratives, but it is your right to have your own set of values and priorities to follow.
Once you acknowledge your values, you have a personal belief to follow, and all the opinions on the way are just background noises.
3. You can’t please them all – it is impossible to meet everyone’s expectations. There will always be people who will judge you, no matter what. You can’t avoid it and you can’t prevent it, but you can stop its influence on you. Like we mentioned above, some people matter, if it’s your boss or other people who you need their approval, but regarding your close ones, they will accept you the way you are.
Deep down in the heart, you might carry a latent secret, the fear of social rejection. If you preoccupy yourself a lot with others’ opinions about you, you are afraid that you will not be part of something, afraid that you will not be appreciated and even rejected. This fear is managing your life and it is causing you to be enslaved to society.
Stopping the excessive dealing with what others think of you is simply letting go of the need for constant approval. Focus on yourself, on your values, and on your inner truth. Understand that you cannot please everyone, and the people who really matter will still be there, even if they disagree with you. This way, you will allow yourself to walk toward your personal and emotional freedom, without losing the social belonging you need.