Do you care what other people think about you? I believe we all do to some extent. We all want to fit in and be “normal.” This goes back to our hunter/gatherer days when we had to stay with the tribe. If we were different, we might get kicked out of the tribe and would end up dying on the savannah. While we don’t have those same issues anymore, 99% of people still care deeply about what other people think of them. That is why we need the shiny new object to project our importance in the world. It is why we are scared of failure and don’t want to risk putting ourselves out there.
“Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu
Here is the thing, “normal” is just average. We can’t do great things in this world if we are just trying to fit in. We can’t live up to our potential if we are worried about status and social validation. Worrying too much about what other people think about us forces us to live small. We end up living other people’s dreams instead of our own. The funny thing is, most people aren’t worried about what others are doing. They are too stuck in their own head. Here are three ways to get out of this trap.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
1. Determine What You Value
I’m not perfect and struggle with this like we all do. However, I found that sitting down and figuring out my values and dreams was a great first step to minimize worrying what others think about you. You can do this on your own or with the help of a coach or therapist. I started the work by myself but I am a big believer in using coaches. Talking to an unbiased observer and having them challenge your views will help tremendously along your self-improvement journey. Coaches can push you to dig a little deeper and figure out what you truly want in this world and help you see things you may not see yourself.
2. Define Your Fears
If you are really scared about taking action, write down what is the worst that can happen to you. Tim Ferriss has a great exercise called “Fear Setting” that I used when deciding to quit my job and venture out on my own. It starts with defining your fears, figuring out the worst possible outcome and how you can come back from it. Then, you determine the cost of inaction. If you are struggling to take action because you fear what others might think of you, I advise you to work through this exercise.
3. Take Action
Taking action is the next step. As I’ve mentioned before, perfectionism and fear of failure are battles I’ve dealt with my entire life. Perfectionism is just an illusion and no matter how perfect we think others might be, they aren’t and perfectionism is not something we can ever achieve. It is best to focus on learning and growth. How do you do this? You test out different ideas, make mistakes, lose a little money, maybe make some money, learn and move forward. You might get embarrassed from time to time but who cares. Those moments are fleeting.
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.” – Aristotle
To Sum it Up
At the end of the day, we all want to look back on our life without any regrets. Did you take the chance on the business ideas you had or just keep it to yourself? Did you begin telling your story or were you too worried what others might think of you? If we continue to dwell on the opinions of others we will never live a life true to ourselves. We must break away from this way of thinking and become comfortable in knowing that everyone is not going to like us. If we are doing great things we will have plenty of haters and naysayers that is when we know we are on the right path.
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein