Why Do You Care About What Others Think Of You?
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the crowd. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
From the time we’re born we are influenced and shaped by the people around us. We listen to their every word and watch their every action as we grow but when we let what others think of us become more important than what we think of ourselves, it can be devastating for our self-esteem.
We all want to be liked by those we come in contact with so when we tailor our actions to fit other’s opinions of us, we lose out on the person we really are. We becomes puppets on a string that others can manipulate when they find out they have certain powers over us.
So, why worry about what others think about you? Why let what others think, say and feel influence how you feel and act on a daily basis?
It all comes down to how we feel about ourselves.
Think about it. Low self-esteem means we care too much about what others say and not enough about who we really are on the inside. We don’t think we’re important enough to make a positive impression on other people so we miss out on what it really means to be unique.
I remember when I was in high school. I was very shy and it was hard for me to make friends (having moved around so many times in my life) so I decided to let my actions do the talking. I was a very good athlete, having played basketball, baseball, football, and soccer, but it didn’t matter. Whatever people thought of me was out of my hands.
They still talked about me behind my back, made insulting remarks about my looks and actions and treated me like I was carrying the plague but I learned I couldn’t control what others thought or said about me, I could only control my own actions. This taught me a very valuable lesson as I got older. The more people I dealt with, the stronger a person I had to become or I would ultimately let others dictate who I was as a person.
What about you?
Do you worry what others will think about how you look, what you do, or even how you think?
Lolly Daskal, President and CEO, Lead From Within says this about worrying too much what others think: “When we give over our power to others and allow that their impressions to become how we perceived, we lose out on who we really are. The only reality we can see is how we believe others see us.”
Your reality should not be based on the power you give to others but the power you have inside. Success in life is not determined on what others think of you but how you feel about yourself and what you do to achieve your goals. Low self-esteem and lack of confidence puts you at a disadvantage when dealing with others and can derail any shot you have at being successful.
Who do you want to dictate how you live your life? Will it be you or other people? It’s as simple as that.
How Can You Eliminate The Worrying And Free The Authentic Person Inside?
According to Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D., an Associate Professor at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, “Studies show that we consistently overestimate how much, and how badly, others think about us and our failings. An unfortunate consequence of this is that we are far more inhibited and far less spontaneous and joyful than we could be.”
This is a very important idea to understand. The more you overestimate how much others think about you the harder it becomes to be more open and more spontaneous.
One of the reasons why shy people have difficulty opening up and enjoying themselves is not about knowing what to say or how to act but is more concentrated on their belief of what others may think about them.
I suffered from this type of behavior for many years. I was so self-conscious of what others were going to think about how I looked or how I carried myself that stayed stuck in my shell. It was so hard to be comfortable when I felt everyone was looking at me.
But here’s the kicker, no one really cares about you. Most people are so into themselves that you aren’t important enough for them to spend time judging you. Having learned this one idea freed me from those self-conscious feelings and I was able to function without the fear or phobia of social interaction.
Here are seven more ways you can eliminate the worry that has a firm hold on you.
1- Break The Cycle Of Your Social Disorder – We have been programmed from an early age to act a certain way, dress a certain way, think a certain way and these types of ideologies force us into social acceptance. There seems to be no room for self expression if it doesn’t conform to the norm.
Take social media for instance. We are forced to like people and things on both Facebook and Twitter to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. This goes against who we really are on the inside. Non-conformity has become a pariah in society and we pay a heavy price for being like everyone else.
Who says you have to be liked socially to fit in? No one needs to give you permission to be liked. That comes from you. The more you understand that concept, the easier it will be to stop worrying about what others think about you and how to fit in without becoming just another face in the crowd.
2- Think about the bigger picture in life – We constantly worry about how we will fit into society and this leads people to do some crazy things to be part of the group. This type of thinking is very short-sided as it has its workings in the present day instead of looking at the bigger picture and where your future lies. If you’re always chasing acceptance, it means you cannot fully accept yourself at this time and will always look for it wherever you go.
The bigger picture shows you things you might have missed when you concentrate on this moment in time. Those things are very important to how you view yourself and the people and things around you.
The bigger picture also changes your point of view. The spotlight is not always on you nor is the pressure you put on yourself. Slow down and get a grip on who you are not what you are perceived to be.
3- Stop letting others live your life for you – Have you ever had a windup toy that you pulled the lever and it went wherever you led it to go? Or a remote controlled toy that you controlled its action? That’s what worrying about what others think of you is like. They have complete control over your thoughts and movements because you’ve transferred that power willingly.
No one is living your life, making your decisions or feeling your feelings. You know best how to live and get along in the world so why let others do those things for you? Learning about yourself comes from making your own mistakes and seeing how far you can go before you make a mistake. You can’t learn anything when you are filled with worry.
4- Stop trying to please everyone – The only person you need to please is yourself. That’s it! It’s impossible to live up everyone else’s expectations and when you have low expectations of yourself, you end up accomplishing very little. Just try to please yourself and let life fall where it may.
When you try to please others so they will like you, they end up liking the person who is pleasing them and not the authentic you. The inauthentic self becomes a ball they can kick around for momentary pleasure. Once you’re gone, your not important to them anymore. Is that how you want it to be?
5- Don’t sow what you don’t want to reap – How you are to others is how you will be treated back. If you have no backbone, people will push you around. If you can’t say no, you will allow yourself to be used time and time again.
You can’t be everything to everyone so be what you want for yourself and yourself only. When you let others dictate your path in life you cannot control what you sow and you will reap a bittersweet harvest. Raj Raghunathan goes on to say that “Life is an echo: what you send out comes back. Too much worry about what others think of you can become a self-fulfilling prophesy that eventually governs your behavior and thoughts.”
6- What others think of you is none of your business – Dr Kelly Neff, a psychologist and founder of the “Lucid Planet” states that “The root of the problem with caring about what people think about you is that you’re attaching yourself to an outcome that you have no control over.”
Think about it. What outcome do you want to have happen? Can you force that outcome? Of course not but that’s what we all try to do. We make it our business to know and control what others think and feel about us because of our egos.
Ego forces us to do things based on pride instead of the truth. We try to get “On the good side of people” without realizing we’re trying to manipulate how they think and feel about us. This type of manipulation actually causes people to reject us unconsciously.
Let go of what others may think and grab hold of how you feel about yourself. By making that of greater importance than what others think, you free yourself from living up to others expectations and you can direct your energies to things of real importance.
7- Get out of your inner mental prison – Author Ed Latimore gives a great example of this when he talks about the relationship Bruce Wayne has with his alter ego Batman. Bruce Wayne is caught in a struggle between good and evil and needs Batman to carry out his whims. Batman does all the things Bruce Wayne wants to do but can’t because he is too worried about how he’ll be perceived. He’s stuck and tortured by his ego and it has put him in a prison.
Let me shine a light on how this works. Have you ever been invited to a party and you start talking to people? You feel your life isn’t as exciting as everyone else is so you start to make things up to sound more interesting. When everyone else starts drinking, you drink as well. In fact, you try to out drink everyone to “Look cool” and be interesting but you’ve put the real you inside a prison and have adopted an alter ego.
That alter ego is very hard to live up to, especially when you’re expected to be that person no matter where you go or who you meet. What’s needed is a prison break.
Ed states that “Carrying out a prison break isn’t easy especially when the prison is an invention of your own mind.”
What Steps Can You Take To Stop The Worrying From Overtaking Your Life?
Most of us are pleasers. We want to please others so that we are liked but when we focus on the external outcomes such as being validated for our actions and our status in life we lose sight of what is truly important in life.
What makes you happy?
Are you doing enough to bring happiness into your life?
Are you living the fulfilling life you’ve always dreamed of?
If you answered no to questions 2 and 3, you care too much about what others think and don’t put enough emphasis on what it takes to be the real you. That is why happiness and fulfillment have not partnered with you to bring the joy you envision for yourself.
What does it take to stop worrying and start being yourself?
Are you afraid to say what you really think and believe out of fear of what others may think?
Fear is a mighty big word. It’s like a huge tidal wave with nothing to stop it but you have the power to turn it off anytime you like, you just don’t believe it’s possible.
Let me tell you it’s not only possible but within you grasp if you believe in it.
1- The first step is to show yourself some love – Transfer the power that others hold over you to yourself and you will see a huge difference in how little you worry about others. It may seem impossible, but remember, you deserve to be loved and no one has the right to take that away from you.
As you build confidence in yourself, the worry tends to lessen because you are putting the bulk of your thoughts on things that make you happy. You are satisfying your ego instead of challenging it to a duel and satisfaction is a an important ally
2– The second step is to stop putting yourself in uncomfortable positions – You are feeding your negativity by putting yourself in positions where you feel you can’t win. You cannot avoid all stressful situations but you can learn how to deal with them without feeling like you are being tested and everyone is watching you to see if you pass or fail.
Once you get through these stressful situations you’ll start to build confidence in your abilities. Self-confidence is worry’s worst nightmare. It’s like taking Popeye’s spinach for your belief system.
3- The third step is to develop your own life story – Instead of living the story you believe others have of you, start developing your own internal story. Stop listening to your inner critic that wants to write your life story and work on your true authentic self. Find those things that represent the real you. learn what makes you unique and build your belief through them.
Accept your faults but think of all the things you done in life and how they made you feel. Do they represent what others think of you or do they show what the real you is capable of?
4- The final step is to control what you put your attention on – This is a mindset practice that takes time and patience but one that reaps many benefits. You are on a lifetime mission to learn and to love. What you put your attention on becomes your focus.
If you are always worried about what others think then you will focus on that worry. If you focus on what you can do to better yourself, you allow the subconscious brain to take over and focus on an answer. The brain won’t stop until it finds a solution.
What do you focus on the most during your day?
That which you focus on will become your reality so doesn’t it make sense that you focus on that which you want to happen? If you focus on being happy, your brain will find ways to bring happiness and joy into your life.
If you focus your efforts on making money, your brain will lead you to opportunities you hadn’t seen before.
If you want to focus on something, focus on what makes you a better person and allow your brain to show you the way. Look for opportunities to better yourself. Look for opportunities to build confidence. Look for ways that helps you gain knowledge and wisdom. Pure focus is the only way to overcome anything that stands in your way.
The real you is in there somewhere. It’s up to you to unleash it upon the world and be the person you’ve always wanted to be. Worrying doesn’t pay the bills or make you a better person. It only forces you to neglect what’s really important… doing what God put you on earth to do.
What does God say about worrying?
Let me leave you with these verses from Matthew 6:25-27.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
And, as the singer Bobby McFerrin once sang, “Don’t worry, be happy!”