Where would you be if you learned how to stop caring what other people think?
Would you be fulfilling your childhood dream of being a garbage man?
Would you be traveling the globe, helping out those in need?
Would you become a rapper?
As humans, we have a primal need to fit in. In order to be initiated into the tribe, we try to come across as “normal” people. We often express ourselves conservatively, in order to not come across as weird or awkward.
The truth is everyone is normal (average) until you really get to know them. Owning your actions and making yourself vulnerable in front of others can be incredibly difficult at times but in the end it is healthier for you and for those around you. Here are 12 reasons why you should stop caring what other people think.
If interacting with others is like driving a car, then filtering your words and actions is like putting speed bumps all over your highway of interaction. The more speed bumps you have, the slower you have to go to avoid losing control of your car. It becomes incredibly difficult to gain momentum, and takes a long time to reach your final destination (making an emotional connection and mutually benefiting each other). Isn’t that why we interact with people?
The more you filter yourself, the less people will truly get to know you. You might be a Mercedes Benz in your head, but as you constantly filter yourself, you’re going to come across as an old, beat-up Ford Pinto.
There is something inherently attractive about someone who doesn’t care what other people think. I’m not saying that more people will like you; there is a difference between being likeable and being attractive. Having an indifferent, carefree attitude is refreshing and contagious, and is a great way to help others break out of their “autopilot”.
Think of it this way. If you’re confident and don’t care what others think, people are going to want to be noticed by you, not use you to feel better about themselves.
Having a mindset of not caring what others think is a self-weeding garden. The people that appreciate your opinions and enjoy your company will stick with you, while the people that don’t like you will stay away from you.
The feeling of being well-liked is great, but having too many “friends” can be stressful and difficult to manage. You have to ask yourself if you want a wide array of shallow relationships with acquaintances, or a more concentrated group of deep and meaningful friendships.
You don’t have to wear a ton of hats for all your different social situations. Trying to fit into a variety of groups can be exhausting, and is not a worthwhile endeavor. It is healthier and less stressful to simply be respected for being who you want to be.
Who are you really living for? It’s not selfish to please yourself at times, because after all, you are at the center of your own universe. Doing things for others is a great way to boost your self-esteem, but you have to ask yourself: am I getting what I want out of life?
When was the last time you truly felt free as a bird? Free from the fear of failure? Free from the bondage to a life chosen for you by others? Free from social constructs that prevent you from doing what you want to do?
Not caring what other people think is a great first step on your way to this nirvana.
It is easiest to get the most out of interactions with others when you are outcome-independent. When you aren’t trying to convince others that you are a really cool person or trying to sway their opinion on something, you can spend time basking in the beauty of a mentally-stimulating interaction.
When you genuinely don’t care whether someone likes you or not, it is easiest to be yourself and paradoxically this makes it easier to connect with people!
When you look inward to gain happiness as opposed to judging your own value based on others, it is significantly easier to obtain a sustainable happiness that stays with you, regardless of how other people’s lives affect you. Other people’s happiness comes and goes, and it is not healthy to rely on others when trying to maximize your own happiness.
Living with an intense fear of social judgement can lead some people to a shy demeanor that severely limits their social contributions. Being more of a quiet type is not a negative thing, but it can cause some apprehension at times.
According to recent studies, we have about 50000 thoughts per day. If you don’t share any of these thoughts, people can get nervous. If you never share anything, how do they know you aren’t an ax murderer? How do they know you don’t run science experiments on small animals in your free time?
These examples are a bit extreme, but the fact is you feel more comfortable around people that you know and understand. When you live silently, you may know that you aren’t a crazy person, but others may be left with an uncomfortable apprehension about you.
Emotional contagion is a powerful tool.
When you have the mindset of not caring what other people think, it is easy for that mindset to become contagious and be adopted by others. When people know that they aren’t being silently judged, they can feel more comfortable in their own skin, and they anchor that feeling to the person who allows them to obtain that feeling – You.
One of the greatest ways to bond with members of the opposite sex is to so show not only confidence, but vulnerability. A 1997 study on love at Stony Brook University found that: “Escalating reciprocal self-disclosure under conditions of mutual vulnerability can have rapid, dramatic, long term romantic consequences.”
In other words: when you share and escalate embarrassing stories/details about your life to a member of the opposite sex, you can actually fall in love. By sharing intimate details about yourself, you show that you don’t fear their judgement and are not overly concerned with their opinion of you, which is an incredibly attractive trait.
It is important to note that not caring what other people think is NOT the same thing as being selfish or self-centered. It’s about being self-confident and owning yourself, and not fearing the social judgement of others.
As soon as you realize that people’s judgements of you are not going to harm you, it is much easier to feel free and become your best self.
Featured photo credit: Anton Petukhov via flickr.com
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