How to stop caring what people think of you, such a causal topic for a breezy Tuesday afternoon. To completely change how you have spent your whole life thinking isn’t easy, we are programmed to want to help, to be considerate and to gain validation from others. To stop caring what people think of you is to go against years of evolutionary training and social upbringing.
Why do we care about what others think?
There are many reasons we care about what people think of us but, I am going to start with the basics: Biology.
We are programmed to seek validation, approval and inclusion into our tribes. It is a survival instinct. Humans are pack animals, we hunt and live together for survival. So back in our caveman days, keeping in with the tribe was important because if the tribe rejects you, you are thrown out into the wilderness to face the elements and soon after, death.
But as our societies progressed to be more complex and our tribes to be much larger with better communication skills so that we could change tribes relatively safely, it became a question of pride, ego and social validation. It became less about our avoiding death and more about gaining status to a better lifestyle.
The more popular we are, the more likely we are to succeed because people are more willing to help us on our journeys. This applies to positive and negative popularity, you can inspire by fear or by kindness and it reaches the same outcome.
So how do you just stop caring what people think for the better? Since it is so hard wired into us, how do we just stop?
It is possible to do and to do it without being a psychopath but we don’t just stop one day. It isn’t a decision to just stop and then POOF, we don’t care anymore. It isn’t just a one step “Oh just stop thinking” either, it is a process of reprogramming your mind.
To stop caring about what people think of you requires you face your inner demons, take back control of your subconscious thoughts, take a look at who you are and learn a few vital lessons.
1. What People Think of You Is a Reflection on Them and Not on You
We all see the world through our own perspective and perceptions. Have you ever heard the tale of “people normally hate in others what they hate in themselves”, this couldn’t be more true.
For example, if you were to cast a negative judgement on someone because they liked to lie and tell grandiose exaggerated stories. That judgement is a reflection on your dislike for lying than it is a reflection on the person telling the story. The story could easily been perceived as entertaining to someone else, you just perceive it negatively based on your own perspective.
Equally, this is flipped. If someone doesn’t like you for a quality you have, that is a reflection on them. For example, if someone judges you negatively because you like to buy expensive watches. That is a reflection on their mindset and set of values rather than you.
When people are negatively judging you, they are saying more about themselves than they are about you. Most of the time, it isn’t even about you but redirected aggression from another area of their life and you just happen to be an outlet.
2. You Can’t Please Everyone
The more popular we are, the safer we feel in a community. We fear rejection as an evolutionary trait because to be rejected by the tribe was to be outcast and die at the hands of the elements and lions. But we have long since evolved since then, and people have gotten more complex with every passing generation. People are so diverse and pleasing absolutely everyone is an impossibility.
Take Beyonce for an example, people love Beyonce but not everyone does. Not because Beyonce has or hasn’t done anything but because she’s just not their cup of tea and that is fine. So stop trying to please everyone because you can’t, which leads us to the next lesson.
3. Be Your Authentic Self
Since it doesn’t matter what people think of you because it’s a reflection of what they think and not about you, and you can’t please everyone, you might as well be your Authentic Self.
We hear that phrase thrown around a lot lately but here is the run down. Your authentic self is the person you want to be if you had no one to please or impress. Your authentic self is the person who speaks their truth, not the doctored truth to keep the peace, says the things you really think and believe in. Your authentic self is the person you hide from the world because you are deathly afraid they will reject you.
If you embrace your authentic self and start turning up as that everyday, people will reject, people will not like you. But people will also love you, they may be new and different people, but they will love you and most importantly of all, you will love you because you are living your truth.
4. Are People Even Paying Attention to You at All?
People are selfish, we spend a lot of time worried what people think of us but most of the time, they think something, forget about it and move on. They are barely paying attention to why they are thinking that, let alone the small judgement they just made.
Most people are made up of recycled ideas they were taught from people they respected growing up, their parents, teachers, the cool kids at school. Take a moment to take in the fact that you are the most important person in your life, not in theirs.
5. Listen to Your Judgements
I think one of the main reasons we are all so concerned with what people think of us is because we are surrounded by negative media always objectifying and criticizing anything and anyone. No one and nothing is safe from the unrelenting cruelty of the media.
As a result, we are programmed to make similar judgements because it is the main input of information in our lives and we want to go with the crowd and nothing screams conform to society like news outlets.
Because we make these mean and cruel internal judgements that we apply to people, we assume other people are doing the same, which they are and as a result, we are all comparing each other to the impossible standard. We feel miserable, depressed and unworthy because we think everyone thinks we aren’t good enough but the problem starts with us.
We also think these thoughts of other people, to begin the process of change you have to stop the unnecessary judgements on other people. Their bodies, their choices, their fashion accessories.
Take responsibility for your internal talk and when a pre programmed negative judgement like “Oh that person is so fat, they should go to the gym”, you correct yourself because…
6. It Is None of Your Darn Business!
You see the world through your own perceptions but your perceptions aren’t truth. They are your truth but they aren’t everyone’s truth. You can see a curvy person in the street but that doesn’t mean they don’t go to the gym. That judgement might be a reflection of your insecurity about the lack of time you spend in the gym.
Humans are curious and I dare say it, nosy. We are nosy and we need to keep our noses in our own business, sorting out our own mindsets rather than happily getting into other peoples business and telling them out to live their lives.
7. This is Your Life, Yours!
No one has walked in your shoes, no one has seen what you have seen. You aren’t comparable to anyone, so stop comparing yourself to others.
If you find yourself thinking, “oh this person is better than me or this person has suffered more than me therefore I should be something else” STOP. You don’t have to be anything but yourself and no one compares to you. When you do find yourself comparing, remind yourself that you don’t compare.
8. Rewire Your Brain for Positive Thinking
We all overthink and it is easier to think negatively than it is to think positively. Start catching yourself when you start to overthink and imagining the worst scenarios.
I know you think you are protecting yourself so you won’t be blindsided but, it doesn’t help anyone because honestly, most of the time it doesn’t even happen. You just sit torturing yourself.
If you think something is really wrong, you will know in your gut; and if your gut says so, go deal with it immediately, don’t sit and over think it. Handle it.
9. Focus on Your Needs
By cutting out all of the internal negativity, you have the opportunity to start focusing on your needs — who you are and what you need and connecting with you authentic self.
To start focusing on your needs, take back control of your life. Having been living life to please people isn’t your fault, we are raised wanting to please our parents so we received rewards. Pleasing people gives you rewards in the form of love, compliments, toys and food.
But now, it is time to focus on what rewards you want from life and you can’t find them in another person. You are the one who has to provide the love for yourself, compliment yourself, buy yourself nice things and feed yourself good foods. We always want to be taken care of because it is safe but, it is time to take care of yourself now. I assure you, once you get used to it, you will feel safe.
Start by focusing on what you need in your life. This doesn’t just mean what you need emotionally, it also means spiritually, financially, house decorially. What is it that you need to work on to make you feel safe and complete?
Start Working Out What Your Needs
I will start with 5 things you can do to start working out what your needs are:
1. What things do you value most in your life?
Is it family? Is it honesty? Is it success? Find what you value, make a top 5 list so you know what you want to focus on in your life.
2. Spend time with people that like your authentic self.
People who know who you are and what you really want, they can offer great judgement free reflections.
Remove anyone in your life who makes you feel ugh, you don’t have to be around them and it only brings you down. (In regards to bosses and colleagues, please refer to my other article on how to deal with them)
3. Clear up your environment.
As I mentioned earlier with the media bombardment of negativity, your input into your life greatly affects you.
Cut out the negativity or anything that makes you feel worthless, and surround yourself with things that make you feel safe and abundant. Throw out all that clutter that brings you down, block all those negative Nancys on facebook or those people that trigger your insecurities and focus on you.
4. Quit social media for a moment.
We spend all day scrolling looking at other people’s amazing achievements and in our heads, we assume everyone is doing better than we are.
Until you feel a little more secure, stop the comparison train at the source and pick up a book or start a new tv show instead. When you feel ready to come back, delete all of the people who bring you down or trigger you to feel insecure. Make sure your feeds are filled with nothing but positivity and productivity. Putting yourself down is a waste of everyone’s time.
5. Stop this internal nonsense that you aren’t good enough.
If you are struggling with it, you need to find a way to correct yourself, learn how to deal with these kinds of thoughts.
You can try affirmations, meditations or one of the many options available to you if you just took a moment to look, instead of scrolling on instagram, comparing yourself to photoshopped models or successful entrepreneurs.
Life is too short to spend it constantly letting your own inner self talk and the negative judgements of others bring you down.
Caring what people think of you is within your control, I know it doesn’t feel like it but it is. You can’t control what people say out of their faces, but you can control your reactions to it, the negativity you put into your head and how you talk to yourself and about others internally.
Like I said at the start, there is no easy answer, it is a process of learning a new way of thinking that challenges your biology, your upbringing and your mental psyche. But if you do commit to change, you will find your life will swiftly fall into place because you get to be unashamedly you.
Featured photo credit: Antonino Visalli via unsplash.com