It’s the most cliché thing in the world — but the truth is that everyone is more worried about what everyone else is thinking than actually thinking about anyone else.
Your life can be dictated by these menacing thoughts if they aren’t dealt with properly. Every decision you make will be met with second-guessing.
“What if everyone thinks that what I’m doing is wrong?”
“What if I’ll get made fun of?”
When you start digging into the problem, you realize it’s an internal one.
Yes, people will think negatively about you, but you can’t control these situations.
What you can control is learning how to stop caring what people think. Below are 7 of the best ways I’ve learned to stop caring about what people think dead in its tracks.
How To Stop Caring What People Think: 7 Methods
1) Ask What Other People REALLY Think
It takes some guts to ask what people are thinking, but the purpose of this exercise isn’t to find out the answer. You’re facing a fear that is the root of the problem.
Meeting your fears headfirst is one of the best ways to defeat them. When I feel a burning desire from within that has to be addressed, I don’t shy away from asking. Even if it means that my ego might hurt in the process, you’re finding out the truth.
Your mind isn’t capable of knowing what is real until it’s been given proof. It’ll go off on wild tangents and you’ll even start to believe in some of them! That’s why it’s important to give the mind what it wants, it wants to know the truth, so give it to the truth.
Next time you’re feeling a bit self-conscious about what you’re wearing or about a business idea – bring it up to a friend. Ask them to be brutally honest with you. Reality was never able to compete with the fantasies my mind would conjure up. Finding out the bitter, cold truth will let your mind rest at ease.
2) Accept You Can’t Control Everything
What changed my life a ton was admitting that I couldn’t control what other people would think. Hell, I can’t even control what I think! Acceptance releases the burden of worry, but it’s not an automatic process.
I’ve reached levels of not caring that I thought was the pinnacle of not caring! And then I would realize that I still cared, just that bit more. It’s a process that comes off in layers, you won’t stop caring instantly.
Practicing acceptance is going to benefit you more than just this situation. You can’t control if anyone will think negatively of you — but you know what, it isn’t your problem anyhow!
You can’t change anyone else, you can only change yourself. By giving away the desire to control, you begin to let go of the internal processes that make you care about what others think.
3) Stick With Your Boundaries
If you don’t have strict boundaries in place, people are going to take advantage of you. They may not even be aware that they are, it’s simply that you’ve not let them know what your boundaries are. When your strict boundaries are upheld on a daily basis, you start to know your self-worth.
I’ve lost friends when I let them know my boundaries were broken when I felt they took a joke a little too far. I say “friends” loosely as I’m not sure they were truly my friends after the fact. But you know what? I would do it again because it revealed their true colors.
Stick with your boundaries and don’t budge. You have to let others know how you’re feeling. They aren’t able to read your mind, they don’t know that inside you feel hurt. Upholding your boundaries solidifies your self worth, and your perception of yourself changes dramatically.
4) It’s OK to Care.. A Little Bit..
Do you know who truly doesn’t care about what you think? The homeless guy that pesters you for change every time you pass him (or her) by. After years of immense suffering, tragedy, and loss, they’ve lost all inhibitions for better or worse.
Everyone cares, a little bit. If you didn’t, you and I wouldn’t bother to shower, dress well and show integrity. The world would become chaotic if everyone truly stopped caring. It’s ok to care, but it’s not ok when it’s completely taken over every action in your life.
Be mindful of when you’re becoming obsessed with what other people might be thinking about you. They don’t care as much as you care about what they might be thinking. That’s a bit of a brain bender, but it’s the truth.
5) Dig Into Why You Care So Much
I grew up overweight. I was bullied, depressed, the whole she-bang. It’s not something you get away from so easily, even well into adulthood. I went to the gym, got healthy, but I got obsessive. I was counting every calorie, weighing out my food for the week, starving myself at times.
I was so obsessed with how I looked, that I didn’t notice how negatively my obsession had been affecting me. If you’ve ever been depleted of calories for an extended period of time, you know that your brain goes haywire. I was miserable. Ask any bodybuilder a few weeks before their show how they feel. They’re going to tell you they’re hungry, angsty, and depressed.
All of this was because of my childhood obesity. Even though I got to a healthy weight, it wasn’t enough. I had to keep going, even if it meant sacrificing my wellbeing. It was only until my friends pointed out how much of my life I was missing out on that I started to change my ways.
It’s so damn hard letting go of the past, it’s an uphill battle. You’re going to have to look inside of yourself to figure out what it is that’s making you care so much about what others think. You’re going to meet repressed emotions that have been bottled up, but that’s how you free yourself from not just this situation, but from any burden.
6) Remember You Only Live Once
Looking past the overused meme-age, it’s true. You’re only going to get one shot to live. You have the world in your hands at every waking moment and yet it can feel that everything is against you at the same time.
You shouldn’t feel rushed to get it perfect, because you won’t. You should feel rushed to start your journey into the unknown.
What will it feel like once I live for myself and let what others think go?
I’m still learning on this journey, and I’ll keep learning until my final moment on this Earth. The pressure you’re feeling to fix this part of you can feel immense, but you’re going to need to start somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you feel that you’re unfixable (because you aren’t), what matters is that you’re bringing mindful attention to where it matters most.
7) The Real Secret Sauce Is…
I find that time and time again, it all leads back to spirituality. Finding answers for big questions like “What is life” and “Who am I” end up taking the bigger stage when it comes to self-help. Most of the advice I’ve tried ended up with me on a never-ending “improvement” treadmill.
Meditation, spirituality, and a love for life is how you stop caring what others think. Everything that’s written above can help you, but it’s only a band-aid to the issue. All of your unresolved internal conflicts, drama, and tension are able to be released with proper meditation practice.
I grew up with a “screw it” attitude, and as I got into my 20s I realized that life was much bigger than the weight I carried on my shoulders. I had to gain perspective to free myself from all of the shackles that had been weighing me down. I’ve tried all the self-help in the world and nothing cut to the core as meditation and spirituality did.
I’m talking real deal, life-changing practice. Not that crystal, shaman, white-gown new-age stuff that you often see portrayed as spirituality. You need to find your own way, and realize what life is all about. All of life’s problem seem to fall away after, it’s odd how it works, but you find that it all points back to the same place.