I’m sure you’ve read articles about this subject before, or you already know that caring too much about what people think holds you back. There are many quotes dedicated to reminding you that being true to yourself is the only thing that matters.
So why is it such a hard thing to do?
Why do we still freeze up before a presentation, delete the text message we were going to send or keep our mouths shut because we’re afraid that people won’t listen to us?
This plagued me for years. There’s nothing I wanted more than to be heard, validated and encouraged. This is a universal desire by the way, but I often felt alone as if I was the only person who’s ever wanted or needed these things and that somehow it made me weaker than everyone else.
I developed an ‘inferiority complex’ because I believed it was something the whole world had figured out already and somehow the warm feelings of belonging eluded ONLY me. (It’s funny how victimhood is its own form of narcissism!)
I created a laundry list in my head of all my shortcomings and reasons I wasn’t worthy of people’s love, support, and attention. I cataloged every time someone said something mean to me. Every failure, every regret, and every piece of evidence that showed all the ways in which I didn’t measure up. I packed it all up into a backpack of shame that leads to chronic shoulder pain, bitterness, and depression.
As much as society is still hell-bent on trying to separate humanity, the real truth I didn’t understand is that we’re all more alike than anything. We all have the same basic needs, wants, and insecurities. That’s something a lot of people have trouble accepting, which is strange because I find it quite comforting to know this.
I can tell you from experience that it’s going to take much more than just a pleasant quote to get you to stop caring about what other people think…in fact, the reason it feels difficult is that it’s impossible. Anyone who says they absolutely don’t care about what other people think is lying to you unless of course they’re a psychopath. If that’s the case, their opinion of you isn’t your biggest problem!
So what now then?
Really what you’re striving for is just to care a little LESS.
No matter how calm/put together/life of the party/popular/beautiful someone is, they have problems, they have fears and they have insecurities. No one is exempt from this, it’s just one of the joys of the human experience.
Not everyone is going to like you. You’ll have a much easier time if you can accept this and stop striving for perfection in hopes of pleasing people. Or the other direction: acting out defiantly to show people how they’re wrong for not liking you!
They’re both bad options and won’t get you what you want. You’ll end up stewing in resentment, sadness, and shame. You certainly don’t make friends with self-loathing soup.
Maybe this isn’t what you want to hear, but it absolutely comes down to loving and trusting yourself. You have to do the work to get all this downer garbage out of your head.
It starts with investigating the beliefs you currently carry and recognizing that it’s all a lie. You really don’t need to spend another minute living under other people’s limitations and opinions. It can be as simple as deciding you want something different and consciously reminding yourself of it every day. Awareness and consistency are key.
You’ll still worry about what other people think and feel afraid sometimes, but when you change your perspective; you’ll just shrug it off and move on.