Most of us care about what other people think to some degree. For years, my problem was that I cared too much about other people’s thoughts and opinions of me. To the extent, where I based my self-worth and acceptance on gaining approval from others. For me, I wanted to look good, to impress and to be liked by everyone. Unconsciously, I was allowing the approval of others to dictate whether I liked myself or not. Without meaning to, my personality would change depending on who I was talking to and I would allow people to talk over me in a group setting just to keep the peace. These actions weren’t an attempt for me to be fake or to pretend to be someone that I am not. I just wanted to be accepted and liked by everyone, that was my only goal.
Worrying about what other people thought of me was making me stressed and anxious. I was taking everyone else’s opinions on board and allowing their judgements to dictate how I felt about myself. My day was made if someone gave me a compliment. However, a lack of compliments or criticism would result in inner turmoil, bingeing on junk food, getting lost in a Netflix series or over exercising. On a daily basis, I was waiting for people to validate me and to accept me.
After nearly thirty years of trying to be perfect, I realised that I had no idea who I was, what I genuinely liked doing and what my true values were. Before now, I had taken other people’s opinions and thoughts onboard without giving myself a second thought. Over time, I began to realise that my need for other’s approval wasn’t getting me anywhere and something had to change.
How to stop worrying about what other people think:
Get to Know Yourself
Getting to know who you really are is key to living a happy life. Being aware of your values, strengths and interests allows you to express yourself with ease and confidence. Expressing your needs and desires becomes easier when you truly know yourself. You are able to make better choices about everything and you are less likely to say “yes” when you want to say “no.”
Accept Yourself Fully
Self-acceptance means that you accept yourself for who you really are. You accept your appearance, habits, strengths and weaknesses. When you fully accept yourself for who you really are, you won’t need anyone else’s approval or validation to feel good. Learn to love and accept yourself fully, flaws and all!
Avoid the Perfectionist Trap
When you are a perfectionist, what you do and the way you look is never good enough. Perfectionism is an illusion. We are not perfect, we are human. Recognise your vulnerabilities and let the people you care about see you as imperfect. Create more realistic goals and expectations for yourself with regards to your appearance and your life. Be willing to make a mistake and still feel good about who you are. You are already enough; you don’t need to prove your worth by being perfect. Brené Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” really helped me embrace my imperfections, I highly recommend it.
We always assume we know what other people are thinking or feeling. In reality, our assumptions of what other people are thinking is generally wrong. Our mind has a tendency to assume the worst so why not question your thoughts. Do they really think that? How do you know? Where’s the proof? People are always going to judge you, remember to trust your own opinion of yourself, only you know what’s best for you.
Be Less Judgmental of Others
The more we judge others, the more we think they judge us. Passing judgement about a person is actually a reflection of our own thoughts and insecurities. Instead of judging someone for what they’ve done or how they look, try to understand the person. Become curious or put yourself in their shoes. Becoming more compassionate towards others will stop you being so harsh on yourself and less afraid of judgement.
Figure Out Why You Care
Ask yourself why you care about what others think. Whose opinions are you taking on board and why? Believe it or not, most people couldn’t care less about what you’re doing. People have their own problems and their own lives to worry about. Focus on making yourself a priority and being happy. Some people will like you and some people won’t, the main thing is that you like yourself. Start living the life you want, don’t look back wishing you had lived differently.