It’s natural to care what other people think. You want to please. You want to fit in. You want to be liked. But there’s a big difference between taking others’ feelings into thoughtful consideration, and letting others’ opinions drive your daily decisions. The former is empathy. The latter is tantamount to personal imprisonment.
When you actually stop caring what other people think, you empower yourself to take control of your own narrative. Suddenly, the only person you have to consult before deciding what to do, where to go, or how to behave, is your own inner voice—the one living inside you that’s easy to reach at all hours of the day. You will never be 100 certain of the outcomes of your various choices, but no one ever gets to be 100 percent certain about anything.
When you actually stop caring what other people think, you start saving the precious time you once spent doubting yourself. You also spare yourself from playing the fruitless, time-consuming game that is trying to guess what’s going on in someone else’s brain. Finally, you see the futility in speculating. You see that whatever’s going on in another person’s mind shouldn’t impact your choices anyway.
When you actually stop caring what other people think, you start preserving your energy for the pursuits and people that matter. You stop making room for toxic “friends” and family members because they aren’t worth it. Instead, you devote yourself fully to the people who deserve your attention and the endeavors that genuinely make you happy. You don’t care what anyone else is doing at any given time. You care about the here and now. The moment and place you’re occupying, and the people you’re with.
When you actually stop caring what other people think, you pay less attention to gossip. You don’t get swept up in rumors, realizing that hearsay is incredibly tedious, not to mention unreliable. You stop trying to prove yourself, too. You don’t do things specifically designed to shape or “fix” people’s perceptions of you because you honestly don’t care what they say behind your back in response to your actions. Instead, you consult your own instincts for guidance and your own heart for feedback.
Most importantly, perhaps, when you actually stop caring what other people think, you gain perspective. You see your place in the world for how very minuscule it is, but this realization doesn’t sadden or scare you. It makes you more modest, more mindful, and more appreciative. More committed to being the best person you can be, without the promise of accolades.