Caring about what people thought almost killed me.
Perfectionism almost crushed me. No one knew it. It would have been hard to tell. I was a perfect student. I was friends with almost everyone. I was a top athlete with international, world championship experience. I dated models and professional athletes. And still I wondered at my core if I was pretty, lovable or enough. Every bit of my energy went into maintaining the façade I was living: that life was easy and that I was happy.
The truth was I felt forgettable. My worth was dependent upon my performance and on how much people liked me. I cared about what people thought about me because their opinion of me determined my worth. My veins pumped with people-pleasing blood and what I craved was unquenchable.
Why do we care so much about what people think in the first place?
We care about what people think about us for a million different reasons. We want approval. We want to craft an image. We want to be perceived as successful, or as the person we are supposed to be. We are afraid of being boring. We want to stand out. To matter. Ultimately we are afraid to let the world really see us as who we are because we are terrified of not being liked.
Whatever the reason, caring too much about what people think can keep you from happiness. Caring too much causes us to obsess about the “what if’s” and drives us into speculation over things completely out of our control. Said differently, it is an epic waste of emotional energy and intellectual distraction.
If caring what other people think has kept you from anything in life, this post is for you. Being free from this pressure to please doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t a pill you can take or a switch you can flip. It can be learned, through the process of growing in confidence.
As you do this work in your heart and mind it’s important to remember that your being liked or unliked has no bearing on your worth. In this world of almost 8 billion people, God created you. He designed you and created you with purpose. He looked at the world and saw that there was a need for you. Your existence is not happenstance or by accident. There is divine purpose in you. Statistically speaking, in a world of so many people, there will be people who like you, and people who don’t. That’s okay. Being liked or unliked doesn’t change who you are or how you matter. This is the start of your permission to radically shift how you think about yourself and about how to stop caring about what people think of you, because, quite honestly, it doesn’t matter what they think.
Stop Caring What People Think By Focusing On What You Can Control
We can’t control what something thinks about. We know this, yet when it comes to what they think about us, we try to insert ourselves into the equation. The unattended mind will spend a tremendous amount of energy contemplating the various scenarios that play out what someone does or doesn’t think about us. For the person who wants to get over worrying what someone might or might not think of them, the focus needs to shift entirely. Instead of thinking about other people, we need to think about ourselves. Not in a self-centered way, but with our direction of focused control. We can only control ourselves and our thoughts. We can’t control circumstances, the world around us and certainly not the behavior or thoughts of anyone else. Freedom, and an uncanny amount of confidence, is birthed in the person who can step out of falsely projected efforts of control towards others and be at peace with what they can control: themselves. The truth is, it’s none of our business what someone else thinks about us or about what we are doing. Their thoughts are their business, our thoughts are ours.
Stop Caring What People Think By Figuring Out Who You Really Are
Not only does a confident people know who they are, they know what they want. Don’t be overwhelmed by this. Consider it an invitation. You have been invited to start the journey of your life as an explorer. There is no right or wrong answer, no right or wrong you. Most people don’t know who they are because they have spent their lives moving from one accomplishment to the next, ticking off the boxes of success in life that someone has told them they should do. Culturally, our live are so packed and scheduled that we don’t have excess time for hobbies, leisure and free thinking, the three things that are actually crucial to self-discovery. The path to discovering is a loose path and demands time and openness. To figure out who you really are, put on your explorer hat and approach yourself with an eye of curiosity. Allow yourself space to explore your interests, your preferences and the things that make your heart come alive, and in doing so, you will be on the path to knowing who you are and what you want. The person who knows who they are and what they want in life can live unapologetically, with clarity and confidence, unburdened by what anyone else they know might think about them. The need to be true to their hearts becomes more important than the need to get approval from those they know.
Give yourself permission to be yourself – and to express yourself, however it is that feels most like you. Know that you will feel nervous and worried as you begin to step outside of this comfort zone, but do it anyway. The world needs you – not another replication of someone you think the world wants you to be – it doesn’t need your representative, it needs the real you. When you care about what other people think you are giving them your voice – stop handing over the greatest gift you have and take the narrative of your life back.
Stop Caring What People Think By Taking More Action In Your Own Life
One of the things that keeps people from what they want is overthinking. The main cause of overthinking is over-concern of what other people might think. Most people are desperate to be accepted and conversely craving to stand out and be different. We want to take massive action on the things that matter to us in life, but we often resist taking action because we don’t want to stand out too much, make too many waves, or leave the comfort of the people we are currently around. Sometimes, going after what you want in life can feel overwhelming. Overwhelm makes us retreat and shrink back, making our movement sticky and delayed. The result is that we become slow to taking action. In this cycle we overthink and over-plan, ultimately driving us to considering what others will think of us when we start to take action on that thing as well. The only way to break the cycle of delayed action is to take action. Similarly, a very powerful way to break the cycle of caring too much about what people think is to take action quickly. When you become a massive action taker, taking action and continuing your forward momentum towards something that matters to you, even if you don’t feel “ready” is critical to self-confidence. Action leads to results, and it teaches you to trust yourself and to trust your capability to figure out the next steps as you go. When your energy is focused on action, it frees you from the weight and delay that comes from caring what people think. Said differently, it’s hard to care what people think when you care more about taking action on what matters to you and on what moves the needle forward in your life.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, then you’re going to want to listen to my full coaching on this topic. You can listen to my most popular podcast episode on this in episode #187 of The Confidence Podcast by clicking here or going directly to: www.trishblackwell.com/187