When I was in my twenties, I wanted to please everyone. I couldn’t stand the thought that even one person wouldn’t like me, so I based my hobbies, music preferences, and clothing choices, on what I believed would appeal to others. Today, I’ve learned to stop caring what others think. I know who I am, make decisions based on my own preferences and goals, and can honestly say I’m not at all bothered to be disliked by others.
How did I come to truly stop caring what others think? I believe it was a combination of experiencing and having to come to terms with other people disliking me (an inevitable reality) and changing the way I thought about and valued others’ opinions and approval.
I can’t walk you through your day-to-day interactions with others, but I can share the thought patterns and actions that helped me to arrive in this place. So let’s dive in!
Stop Caring What Others Think By Taking Things Into Perspective
- First of all, remember that most people don’t care half as much as you think. Growing up, I was convinced that everyone was watching and judging my every move. Heaven forbid I leave the house before curling my bangs. But one day in my late twenties, I started to question if I noticed every detail of every person I passed. And I didn’t. I was usually so caught up in my own appearance and plans and worries that I didn’t have time to care if another person put on their Sunday best to go to Walmart. Remember that other people have their own concerns, and probably aren’t thinking about you half as much as you might believe.
- Remind yourself that you will never please everyone. Ever. There are people in this world that hate puppies and chocolate, for crying out loud. Surely there will be people that don’t like you or me. Author Amy Weatherly once aptly compared people’s opinions of her to their dipping sauce preferences. She reasoned, “For some people, you are going to be too salty, and for others, you are going to be too sweet. For some, you will be too bold, and for others, you won’t have enough flavor. You will be too much and not enough for some people’s taste buds to handle and that is OK.” Amy concludes that if not everyone loves Chick-Fil-A sauce, as delicious as she knows it to be, then surely not everyone will love her either. And that’s okay!
- Remember that most negativity is about the critic, not the criticized. The one person who criticized me when I finally reached a healthy weight in my twenties, was the one person whose identity was anchored in being more fit than everyone else. The woman who rolled her eyes at everything I said in the office? She was worried I was coming for her job. (I wasn’t.) It’s not you, it’s them. And you don’t have the time or energy to dwell on their issues.
Stop Caring What Others Think By Limiting Input
- Remove or limit sources of negativity in your life. If your sister acts as the main source of negativity in your life, you may have trouble removing her from the equation. But friends? Acquaintances? You can certainly stop spending time with people who constantly criticize you. Family and coworkers are usually more difficult to remove completely, but you can somewhat restrict their influence by limiting your time together and politely asserting when you don’t wish to discuss certain topics. If social media is a constant source of insecurity, deleting the app off of your phone or limiting time spent on the app are viable options. (Need a little help scaling back? Check out How to Reduce Social Media Usage | 4 Easy Steps to Take Back Your Time and Peace.)
- Stop asking for everyone’s opinion. If you must ask for someone else’s opinion of your life choices, ask just one or two people who love you and have your best interest at heart. Asking random people, a lot of people, or those you know to be critical, unhappy, or unsuccessful, helps to strengthen the idea that their opinions should matter to and influence your decisions. And they shouldn’t. Crowdsourcing your every move will never result in your happiness.
Stop Caring What Others Think By Knowing and Loving Yourself
- Get to know yourself. It’s easier to stop caring what others think when you thoroughly understand your own preferences, needs, and goals, and are committed to them. What makes you, you? What excites you? If you weren’t afraid of what others might think, what would you most love to be or do? Remember that the people who weigh in on every decision you make won’t be the ones facing the consequences of those decisions. So make sure every decision is made with your likes, dislikes, needs, and goals in mind.
- Value a few authentic relationships over a lot of surface relationships. Which would you prefer? People who genuinely like you, just as you are, or people who like who you’re pretending to be? I could have a lot more opportunities for conversation and bonding if I watched Game of Thrones. The problem is that I have zero interest in the story line, and truth be told, think the acting’s pretty terrible at times. Rather than pretend I like it to fit in with more people, I choose to talk about things that truly interest me with the three other people in the world who don’t watch GoT. Authentic friendships trump surface connections any day of the week.
Stop Caring What Others Think By Thinking It Through
- Imagine the worst-case scenario. What’s the absolute worst-case scenario if you do that thing you want to do? Now ask yourself, is it really that bad? When launching my blog, I had to consider that some people would probably laugh at my attempt, and that my website might never break even from the start-up costs. And while that didn’t sound pleasant, it certainly didn’t sound fatal. You can also consider the worst-case scenario of not doing that thing. I knew that if I never launched my blog, I’d probably regret it, and would always wonder what might have happened if I had.
- Imagine yourself on your deathbed. Gruesome, right? But seriously! When you’re worried about what others think, ask yourself if you’ll be thinking about their opinions when you’re facing death. Or will you be wishing you had chased that dream despite their opinions of it? We get one life to live. Don’t spend yours trying to please those who will never fully appreciate you anyway.
- And finally, remember that others can’t offend you unless you allow it. Of course, they can say rude and offensive things. But whether or not that comment sits with you and impacts your happiness hours, days, or years down the road? Well, that decision lies with you alone. Other people don’t naturally hold that power over you. Don’t be the one to give it to them!
Wrap It Up
You can absolutely stop caring what others think of you! By accepting the inevitable, limiting sources of negativity and their impact on you, and knowing and valuing yourself for who you are, you can shrug off others’ opinions and gossip to pursue your dreams! You’ve got this, friend!
P.S. Ready to discover your personal goals and make a plan to reach them? Then nab our free goal-setting workbook here!
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