Some time ago, I was obsessed with how people perceived me. I spent more time than necessary figuring out their thoughts about me, what their views on me were and whether I have indirectly hurt their feelings. My obsession with what other people think of me driven me to do everything necessary to please the people in front of me without sparking the slightest confrontation or, more dreadfully, rejection. All I wanted at the time was to be approved and accepted by members of society.
This kind of mental torture is not uncommon, and it can dig its way into virtually every aspect of our lives, whether we see it or not. There was a time when I worry about what people think of how I present myself in the gym, what I wear to work and whether or not people think I am smart and approve of my life choices. The message here is that the perception of ourselves are constantly bombarded with the input of others.
However, this is the issue with living your life based on what others perceive of you: it completely prevents you from being yourself. Ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, Lao-Tze perfectly summarises it when he said:
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”
It took me a while and a lot of mental recalibration to finally stop caring about what other people think of me so that I can live my life my way. Continue to find out how I managed to live my life rather than the lives of others.
1. “Why Do I Care In The First Place?”
When you begin to observe that your thoughts are busy focusing on what someone else might believe, get the shovel out and dig into them to determine what is actually unfolding. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What are you afraid of?
- Why does it keep you up all night?
- Why does it matter to you?
Continue to ask yourself these “Why?” questions until you hit the source of the problem. We pay so much focus on what someone else views that we forgot the truth — it has always been about what and how we see ourselves.
2.Practice Self-Love And Self-Care. Nothing Else.
We only emphasize others’ thoughts when we worry that there is an element of truth in them. Observe more attentively — we are only concerned that people think we look horrible in an outfit because webelieve we look bad in that outfit. We only give serious attention to what our friends believe of our relationship due to the fact that we worry that it may not be the perfect one.
Things only make us feel nerve-wracking when we think about them too. This is where self-love comes into play. If you are firmly grounded in your foundation of who you are, and you place full confidence in the choices you are making, it does not matter what and how people think of you because you do not need their approval any longer.
3. Be Mindful Of Your Thoughts
Frequently, we like to play the role of a people pleaser, and the bad thing is, we do not realise that we are portraying that role. That is because people-pleasing tendency rears its ugly head quietly without you noticing and subconsciously influence your decision-making process. Before we realise it, we have organised our lives based on the opinion of others.
By keeping your focus on someone else, you are disconnecting yourself from your mind. We have to first acknowledge when we are caring what other people think to alter it.
4. Take Control Of Story
Reading motivational quotes online, be it on Facebook or Instagram, has driven me to develop my own journey. Quotes like “No one will look after you and so, you have to look out for yourself,” and “You have to own them, or they will own you.” have influenced me to become the author of my own story.
Give yourself the time and the acceptance you seek from others. Before you know it, caring what other people think will no longer make you feel uneasy.
5. *Adds Nike’s Slogan*
Life is too short to be spent thinking about what other people think about you. Whatever it is that you have been longing to do, say, think, believe or wear, just do it. When you are in the middle of it, pause for a while. Observe around and listen to yourself. Chances are, you will still be in one piece. You are still alive.
The thoughts of others — regardless of what they are — do not present real dangers to you nor do they represent your actual beliefs. It takes a while to rewire the neural pathways associated with the anxiety of what other people think and build self-confidence. However, once you have the courage to stand out fearlessly, keeping your mind focused on you is a walk in the park.
Final 2¢: One More Thing
We are not Professor X. We do not have the ability to really understand what other people are pondering. We are just assuming, and those assumptions typically originate from our own vulnerabilities. We tap onto negative thoughts about ourselves and put them on other people.
When you notice that you are contemplating over what someone might be pondering, take a breather and remind yourself that you will never know what is in their mind. There is no reasonable ground to be irritated about the unknown. There is also very little chance that anyone is even paying attention or ruminating about whatever it is you are insecure about in the beginning.