As humans, we are incredibly social beings. There is also an innate concern with other’s perception of ourselves. It’s perfectly natural and normal. It starts becoming abnormal when this perceived idea of how others think of us starts dictating too strongly our own responses and behaviors. It can be quite exhausting attempting to plan and alter every move based on what’s acceptable and pleasing to everyone else.
Unfortunately, smartphones have put social media forums right in the palms of our hands, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Selfies aren’t for ourselves, let’s be real here, they are for the approval of others. Filters create a ‘model-esque’ quality to the photo and viola! It’s picture-perfect! It’s uploaded, begging for acceptance and reassurance. If it’s not accepted, the worry of what people are thinking can fester and grow.
Instead of obsessively worrying about what other people think, there is a refreshing and liberating feeling with living life to one's own moral codes and standards. Below are five principles to consider when attempting to break away from worrying about what others think.
It’s a complete waste of time perseverating over what others think of you. Our society is overrun with ego-driven creatures concerned with “me” and “my”. They aren’t giving much thought to anything else. Unless their lives are directly affected by something you have done, they probably aren’t going to put you in the forefront of their mind; not for long, anyway.
Except for a close few, other people think about you far less than you think they do. The truth of the matter is, people are exceedingly focused on their own shortcomings which leaves them little time to devote to the insecurities and perceived failings of others.
Gossip is Irrelevant
Those who gossip about others may think it’s normal socializing, but it’s cruel and serves no purpose. It doesn’t bring the gossiper up to a higher level; it only proves how invested one can be in someone else’s life without offering benefit or support. The next time gossipers are in earshot, go in another direction. Involving yourself in such petty behavior is counterproductive.
You Can’t Please Everyone…
This is a big one. We can’t please everyone. It’s easy to say and much harder to accept. Those concerned with how others view them are usually people-pleasers, at least to a certain degree. Focusing on what other people deem important takes away from our own values and diminishes our happiness.
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When we stop spending so much time worrying about how others perceive us, we can be the unique beings we were meant to be. Humans weren’t made from a cookie-cutter. We all have different personalities and skills and creative minds that each see the world differently. Why try to mangle this into being what someone else expects? Take the time to develop a sense of self and all the many beautiful ways each and every one of us can make a positive difference in the world.
Take a Chance
Here’s the fun part. After realizing how much time and energy has been wasted worrying about what others think, now your brain should be ready to take a chance on yourself. Your nerves might not be quite ready, but taking that first step and going out on a limb doesn’t have to be something drastic.
Perhaps standing up and voicing an opinion on a new lunch location might be a good place to start. Not being afraid to voice it or act on it, whatever “it” is, could be the start of a whole new outlook on life. The reaction from others is unlikely to be as scary as anticipated either.
Do What Confident People Do
There are six key ingredients to confident people, the ones who aren’t afraid to voice an opinion or go deviate from the crowd, the ones that others follow.
- Focus on their own stuff. They aren’t worried about what their neighbor, coworker, or friend is doing. They act on things that make their own lives better.
- Don’t take things personally. Criticism is everywhere. The confident person realizes they aren’t responsible for how anyone reacts or what they say; they are only responsible for their own words and actions.
- Don’t overanalyze conversations. Gossip is a waste of time and they say what they mean, or they don’t say anything at all. But constantly thinking about what could have been said or what might be meant behind a comment is a waste of time.
- Shake it off. When bad things happen, keep pushing forward. One sure way to not get anywhere is to stand still.
- Tune it out. Gossip is ugly. It’s almost like confident people who don’t care what other people think have a natural immunity to hurtful words of others. They have honed in on an inner “mute” button and choose to fill their time with better activities.
- Say no. There is a certain amount of liberation in just saying “no”. This goes along with the people-pleasing types who have a hard time saying no. It’s time for you to try it!
Granted, it takes a little bit of time and practice to figure out the limitations of how much another person’s opinions should affect our own lives. There are some opinions we do value, but that doesn’t mean we should always concede to their standards. Instead, find your own and see if they match. It doesn’t mean you need to constantly worry about it and be afraid of the outcome. Find that inner voice and let it shine!