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At some point in our lives, we all have likely encountered a situation where we end up trying to please others even when it means displeasing ourselves.
It could be because of the fear of being judged or due to social phobia.
But then, is it worth it?
And is it possible to stop caring what people think so that we can truly just be ourselves?
According to Scientific American, it’s completely normal to care about what other people think of us.
Truth is, we all want to be appreciated for our efforts.
We want our bright side and great personality to be noticed. We want to get accolades here and there for our achievements.
Wanting these things is not necessarily bad, as long as it doesn’t affect your ability to be yourself and live your own life.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”, says Bernard M. Baruch.
Sadly, too many of us have a social phobia of being judged.
This holds us back from living the best life we can.
In this post, I’ll show you how to stop caring what others think and how to overcome and anxiety you have.
How To Stop Caring What Others Think
Why You Should Stop Worrying What Other People Think
When you always obsess about what other people think of you and make their opinion pivotal to your success, you are putting yourself in a difficult situation.
Then, you start tailoring your life to fit their expectations, and from there it just goes downhill.
Constantly worrying yourself over what others will think or say is like giving away the power you have over your reality.
Trust me, you don’t want that.
By so doing, you allow people’s opinions to kill your inner voice.
Hence you will always say and do what pleases others without considering what you truly think or what you really want to do.
By living such a life, you’re only dwelling in other people’s shadows.
In other words, you’re just living as a shell of yourself and not living authentically.
If you find yourself in such a situation, the main question to ask is, “How do I put an end to this people-pleaser lifestyle and stop caring what others think?”
Getting Over Your Fear Of Being Judged
In general, the best way to stop caring what people think about you is to realize that they don’t really care or think about you all that much.
Most of the time, it’s all in your head and you’re stressing yourself out over nothing.
Once you truly understand and recognize this, you will no longer worry that people are judging you all the time and you will gain a lot of mental freedom.
I know that saying this is easier said than done.
It’s often a long process of self-discovery, self-acceptance and learning to love yourself to be able to get to this point.
But we all have to start somewhere.
On that note, here are some of the best ways to stop caring what other people think.
#1. Think About What Is Really True
I’ve already mentioned that oftentimes, what you’re worrying about is mostly in your head, it isn’t really true.
People all have their own lives and their own worries, they aren’t spending all their time thinking about what you did or didn’t do, or what you said or didn’t say.
In most cases, you are the only one still thinking about the event while everyone else has long forgotten about it.
So, if you often obsess about what other people think, ask yourself if those people are really thinking about you or judging you at all.
Or could it be that you are the only one thinking such things?
Really spend some time thinking about this and separating that which is reality from that which is only thoughts in your head.
#2. Pay Attention To What Matters Most
If you’re in a situation where you are seriously under pressure to dance to the tune of others, then you need to learn how to concentrate on what matters most.
Whenever you find yourself seemingly focused on the ideas of others, simply ask yourself the following questions.
- How important is this for my welfare?
- How vital will this idea be to me in the next five years?
These sorts of questions will trigger you to focus on the bigger picture and allow you to take action according to your priorities instead of simply doing or saying something to please someone else.
#3. Find Where Your Quest For Validation Is Coming From
Because of our different individualities, our problems, perceptions, ideas, thoughts, dreams, and aspirations are all different.
We all have our peculiar reasons why we want people to accept us.
The need for approval and validation manifests in many different ways such as:
- When you change your opinion because you noticed that others disapprove of it
- When you are not bold enough to voice out your resentment when you’re maltreated
- If you pretend to know what you actually know nothing about just to appear smart or in the know
- When you find yourself apologizing way too much even if you’ve done nothing wrong
- When you don’t ever say NO to others
Once you find yourself in such situations, then you should be concerned about where this need for validation is coming from.
A great number of people pleasers started as parent pleasers.
As a kid, you may have been scolded when you acted in a certain way.
To avoid being admonished again, you readjusted your behavior to attract the appreciation of your parents.
Perhaps you tracked your parents’ moods and checked upon them from time to time.
At school, at work, or any other place, all you cared about was to make your parents proud.
Well, this is not wrong per se.
However, if your parents continued to nurture you that way without giving you any room to lend your voice and be yourself at times, then you may have grown up to become an adult who always worries about what others will say.
When you identify where your need for validation started in the first place, you will be more poised to recognize the kinds of situations that prompt your need for approval in your present life.
This way, it will be easier for you to retrace your steps and get over your fear of being judged.
#4. Start Journaling
If you really want to stop caring what other people think for good, I recommend you give journaling a shot.
Journaling is the easiest way to connect with your inner voice.
When you journal, you listen to that voice and write down whatever it tells you.
Adopting journaling as an important part of your daily activities will give you enough time to reflect on your present, not necessarily the past or future.
Journaling will ensure that you’re so engrossed with yourself, your life, and your day that you will have little or no time to worry about other people or their opinions about your life!
Moreover, even if your constant “need for validation” stems from low self-esteem, by journaling, your self-esteem will be boosted because you will become way more aware and accepting of yourself.
#5. Be Clear With Your Boundaries
In life, it is necessary to set certain boundaries.
However, this might be very difficult if all you care about is pleasing others.
You need to clarify your boundaries by ensuring your Yes and No are well defined.
The fact is, if you fail to create certain limitations to what you can accept from people, they will surely take advantage of that and assume a certain level of control over your life.
Your ability to say no when it matters is key to living a balanced life, because when you always say yes to people, chances are you are not living for yourself.
Rather, you are living for others.
“To shine your brightest light is to be who you truly are”, says Roy Bennett.
So, you have to be honest with yourself.
Whenever you’re faced with a new task or commitment, always ask yourself:
- Am I doing this because it’s the right thing to do, or am I doing it to please others?
- Is this me being me, or is this me trying to be who I’m not?
- Does this really make me happy or am I doing it to make others feel happy?
Asking yourself such difficult questions will teach you how to start making difficult choices.
Consequently, giving no for an answer will no longer be a big deal.
Take note, saying “no” to people when you have to doesn’t make you a bad person.
Anybody who makes you feel guilty for saying no to them is only being manipulative and selfish.
Instead of making you feel bad, they should try to put themselves in your shoes to see if they would have said yes in such a situation.
You own your life and the only way to prove that is by saying yes or no to whatever and whenever you deem fit.
#6. Eliminate The Fear Of Being Judged
One of the main reasons you might be beating yourself up over what others think about you is because you don’t want to face their judgments.
We’ve all been dominated at some point in our lives by something someone else said about us.
Words can be painful and can leave us feeling weak and vulnerable.
And in time, people’s words and opinions about us can mold our own beliefs about ourselves.
This can result in fear of facing people’s judgments and can interfere with so many facets of our lives as we steer through relationships, jobs, social circumstances, and the likes.
It turns into a social phobia for some of us, causing us the fear of groups or even having anxiety triggered by criticism.
Dealing with the fear of being judged is not easy.
After all, you developed that anxiety gradually, so getting rid of it will certainly take some time.
Here are some helpful tips to eliminate such fears:
- Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses
- Resist any pressure of letting others define who you are
- Recognize and kill those negative voices in your head that always criticize your every move
- Learn to prioritize yourself
When you start taking these measures, you will begin to defeat the concerns you have about being judged and eventually stop caring what other people think.
Remember, it’s a process. There are no quick fixes.
#7. Talk To A Counselor Or Therapist
Visiting a counselor is really important, especially if your fear of being criticized or need to always impress others is a result of social phobia.
Social phobia is defined as an unnecessary fear of humiliation in a social situation that is very intrusive and can have negative effects on both personal and work-related relationships.
According to ADAA, social anxiety disorder, otherwise known as social phobia, affects roughly 15 million American adults and is the second most generally diagnosed anxiety illness following specific phobia.
Some signs you’re experiencing social anxiety disorder are:
- Feeling very uncomfortable about mingling with people and having difficulties chatting with them
- Feeling very self-conscious in front of people and worrying about potential embarrassment, humiliation, or rejection
- Being very afraid that other people will judge you or being fearful of offending others
- Fretting for days or weeks before an event where other people will gather
- Avoiding public places
- Finding it difficult to make friends or keep friends
With that said, you shouldn’t treat any “fear of the public” as ordinary because it is pretty serious.
I recommend that you seek a solution ASAP.
Fortunately, seeking help from a counselor or a psychotherapist has proven to be effective in dealing with social-related anxieties.
Other ways to eliminate social anxiety are:
- Realize that anxiety is natural
- However, understand that anxiety doesn’t have to be your reality
- Shift your focus from why you should be afraid to why you should be brave
- Understand that discomfort is part of life and be more willing to experience it
- Breathe away your anxiety
Undoubtedly, dealing with your social fears can go a long way to help you overcome the fear of what others think about you.
#8. Love And Appreciate Yourself A Little More
To neutralize the urge of pleasing others, learn to love yourself a little more.
Appreciate your individuality and value who you are!
Here is a fact.
When you learn to love and appreciate yourself, you’ll start seeing reasons why you should please yourself instead of others.
- Read now: Are you sabotaging your own happiness?
One useful tip that will help you start putting yourself first is adopting slogans like “me first”, or “charity begins at home”.
You have to bear in mind that before you ever knew the world, you knew yourself first.
So, it’s pretty logical to start admiring yourself more.
Loving yourself is not selfish, after all, you can love yourself and still love others.
The whole idea, however, is for you to learn how to value others by valuing yourself first.
#9. Identify The Bad Eggs And Eliminate Them
Finally, to overcome pleasing others to your displeasure, you have to start identifying those toxic people around you that drain your life.
Especially those manipulative people who will always make you feel guilty for saying “no” just once.
Hanging out with such people will go a long way to undermine your efforts to stop caring what others think.
So, you’ve got to terminate them from your life.
Not necessarily like the Terminator does, but you get the point).
The ability to be yourself in a world that appreciates validation and inclusiveness is not as easy as it might sound.
In order to live an authentic life, you have to erase any factor that affects your ability to be yourself!
This includes no longer caring what other people think about you.
Get to know yourself better, learn to love yourself more and always be kind to yourself first!
Lish is a personal development enthusiast who wants to help people of all ages uplevel their lives. She is of the opinion that we are only limited by our beliefs and that once we overcome our limiting beliefs, we can truly live a life without regrets. She is the author behind Mind Her Way where she shares her thoughts on personal growth and relationships.