Stop caring what others think and get on with the business of living your life.
Humans are social creatures. We want to be part of a group. We want to be loved and accepted. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The problem begins when a person’s need to belong interferes with their quality of life and their ability and/or willingness to go after their goals and dreams. When this happens, the person needs to learn how to stop caring so much about what others think.
Here’s what happens when you stop caring what others think:
- You no longer constantly second-guess yourself.
- You get your mojo back—instead of walking in step with everyone else, you break from the herd and head off in your own direction.
- You’re willing to take more risks, learn new things, and seize more opportunities.
- You feel more self-acceptance and self-worth.
- You allow yourself to be who you are.
Doesn’t that sound great? Yes, it does. In this post you’ll find six ways to stop caring what others think.
1. Trust Yourself
One of the reasons why most people care so much about what others think is that they’re constantly looking for validation from others. A lot of people rely on the approval of others for just about everything, such as the following:
- What they wear.
- Who they hang out with.
- What they say.
- What they do.
- Where they go.
- The shows they watch on TV.
- The risks they take.
- How they spend their leisure time.
- The opportunities they’re willing to consider.
If you rely on the opinion of others to feel good about yourself, then of course you’re going to give a lot of importance to what others think of you.
Therefore, if you want to stop caring what others think, you need to start relying on yourself for validation, instead of relying on the validation of others. That is, you need to trust yourself.
Here are some tips for trusting yourself:
- Become more accepting of who you are. People who accept themselves are better at brushing off disapproval from others.
- Increase your self-esteem. The higher your self-esteem is, the more you’ll be willing to rely on your own opinion and make your own decisions.
- Love yourself more. I wrote a whole post on falling in love with yourself, because it’s such an important topic. When you truly love yourself you know that—no mater what—you’ll be there for yourself. And when you know that you’ve got your back, it makes it much easier to trust yourself.
- Be your own biggest fan, instead of your biggest critic. Send the inner critic in your head packing and give your inner cheerleader a megaphone.
2. Remember You’re Going to Die
Reminding yourself that you’re going to die in order to stop yourself from worrying about what others think is a tip from stand-up comedian and actress Amy Schumer. I’m going to quote her verbatim on this:
“. . . [W]e’re all going to die. . . why is that comforting? Because if you’re worried about some dumb sh*t that doesn’t matter, like: ‘Can they see my belly? I don’t like how I look in that tagged photo ‘, remember you’re going to die one day, so who cares? I find a lot of comfort in that.”
I’ll add the following:
- This is your one life. This is it! There are no do-overs. Instead of worrying about what others may be thinking or saying about you, give them something to talk about.
- Do you want to be lying on your death bed filled with regrets because you were worrying about what others might be thinking of you instead of getting out there and trying new things?
- Life’s too short to worry about what other people think.
3. Have Something More Important to Care About
I’ve written posts on this blog on leading a meaningful life, starting a passion project, and leaving a legacy. That is, I’ve recommended repeatedly that you aspire to make your life remarkable.
If you have trouble getting yourself to stop caring what others think, you should re-read these posts (or read them for the first time if you haven’t read them yet).
Why? Because if you’re busy working toward something that’s important and meaningful to you, you simply don’t have the time and/or the brain bandwidth to worry about what others think.
As an illustration, the other day I was sitting at a table at a club that I belong to reading a book for a blog post I was writing. A woman walked by my table and I glanced up at her. She gave me a disapproving look.
I started asking myself what that look could have meant, and what I was doing that could possibly have merited it, but then I thought:
“I want to have this blog post ready for tomorrow. I don’t have time to worry about what that woman’s problem is.”
I immediately stopped thinking about the woman and got back to work.
As a second illustration, a few weeks ago a man was smoking in an area that was clearly marked as non-smoking. I politely asked him to stop, but he wouldn’t. That’s when I called security.
The man looked pretty upset that I called security on him, and for a minute I second-guessed my actions. But then I told myself that I was protecting my health, and that I had every right to do so.
As you can see from these two examples, my work and my health are very important to me. They’re much more important to me than the opinion of others.
Ask yourself the following:
- What’s more important to me, living a full and authentic life, or the opinion of others?
- What’s more important to me, knowing that I’m trying to learn new things and improve myself, or the opinion of others?
- What’s more important to me, doing what I think is right, or the opinion of others?
You get where I’m going with this. Stop caring what others think by having more important things to care about.
4. Choose Carefully Whose Opinion Matters to You
A while ago I wrote a post on how to live a well-curated life. Living a well-curated life means that you don’t just allow things to come into your life haphazardly. Instead, you choose carefully who and what merits admission into your life.
Follow this same principle of living a well-curated life when it comes to the opinion of others. Don’t worry about just anyone’s opinion. Instead, be very selective about whose opinion you care about.
Here are three questions that I recommend you ask yourself when deciding whose opinion will matter to you:
- Is this someone I hold in high regard?
- Do I feel this person has my best interests at heart?
- Are they giving me their opinion in an area in which they’re knowledgeable?
If the answer to any of the questions above is “no”, then you shouldn’t care what that person thinks.
If the answer to all three of these questions is “yes”, then you should take that person’s opinion into consideration. Nonetheless, always keep in mind that–at the end of the day–, the opinion that matters most when it comes to you is your own. After all, no one knows you as well as you know yourself.
5. Exercise Your “I Don’t Care What Others Think” Muscles
If you’re one of those people who looks for approval from others for just about everything you do, start weaning yourself from your need for validation. Look at the following:
- Instead of buying the beige or the black shirt because those are the colors you and your friends usually wear, buy the bright red one that you really want and wear it with confidence.
- If you’ve been hesitating about putting your drawings—or anything else you’ve created– online because of what people might think, take the plunge. Start a blog and put your stuff out there.
- Have the gumption to get out there and give rollerblading a try, or take that public speaking class, or try out for the play, or do anything else that you’ve been too scared to try because of what others might think. If you hear snickering and jeering, know that it’s people who are jealous that you’re out there trying something new, while they’re sitting on the sidelines watching you.
When you first start trying to ignore what others think, it will be hard. But you’ll get better at it, and your “I don’t care what others think” muscles will get stronger. Soon you’ll be living a happier and more fulfilling life because you stopped caring what others think.
6. Stop Caring What Others Think by Embracing Criticism
Stop thinking of criticism as something negative. Instead, take it as feedback and an opportunity for growth and improvement.
When companies put a new product out, they don’t expect everyone to come back with raving reviews. They know that consumers will uncover some glitches in the product and will report them, or that they’ll identify additional features that they want in the product. The company then takes this feedback and uses it to make the next version of the product better than the first.
Take the same approach. Put yourself out there. Then take any criticism that you get from others as feedback, sift out the useful criticism, and use it to make yourself even better.
I used to be incredibly self-conscious and hyperaware of how I was being perceived by others. As a result, I was always stressed and unwilling to try new things. Fortunately, I got over it. And my life is so much better as a result. To live your best life, stop caring what others think.