Do you find yourself wondering how to not care what people think so much? You may feel the pressure to depart from your authentic self’s path because you want to be liked or accepted. You also may go through pressure to fit in at work or school, feeling that if you don’t, you’ll forfeit your best chance at being successful. The stress from being so worried about what others think can be beyond exhausting.
Deep down, we all have a desire and need for acceptance. The last thing we want is to be judged, disliked, or looked down upon. We desire appreciation since it helps us feel valued, cared for, and ultimately loved. But this shouldn’t happen at the expense of abandoning who we are.
We shouldn’t have to be somebody we’re not so others will accept us. Yes, we should be genuinely kind to others rather than being rejected because we treat others poorly. But if you feel like your life purpose is at stake because of the pressure to make others happy, that’s a problem.
However, the reality is that many of us worry about what others think too much. Sometimes that even includes those who think they don’t! The anxiety often comes from deeply ingrained habits established during the childhood years. Perhaps you learned the habit of being too concerned about what others think from a parent or other caregiver, for instance.
Still, not caring what others think is definitely possible. It’s a process you have to work through and takes time to overcome since it’s often a lifelong habit before wanting to change. But the release from the constant anxiety it causes is well worth it! Here are some things to think about in your discovery of how to stop caring what people think.
People Don’t Think About You as Often as You Imagine
This fact can be liberating to an extent. In most cases, people don’t think about you nearly as much as you think they do. Just like you, their life is complex and full of many unique challenges. They’re often too focused on these obstacles to have the time to look down on you or be judgmental. They also may be worrying about what others think of them while you’re concerned they could be judging you!
Making this realization likely won’t be the magic solution of how to stop caring about what others think. However, it’s a good mindset to adopt, along with several others, that can help you break free. When those worries about what others think visit you, say, “That person has so much on their plate, I bet they don’t even have time to think about me.”
Not Everyone Will Like You and That’s OK
Throughout the process of learning how to not care what others think, remember that not everyone will like you, and that’s OK. There will always be people you cross paths with who won’t appreciate you or get along well with you. We tend to assume it has something to do with us.
Most of the time, it has more to do with the other person than it does you if they don’t like you. What challenges do they face, or what obstacles are they struggling to overcome? These concerns and feelings of stress or agitation may have more to do with their cares than they do anything about you.
The Opinions of Some Still Matters
So, does all of this mean we cast off every concern over others’ opinions of us? Probably not. Not caring what anyone thinks isn’t realistic or healthy either. We especially should care how those in our trusted circle feel about us. That way, we’ll have a well-rounded perspective of who we should be and how to improve as a person. It’s wise to take some stock of what others think so long as it doesn’t control you in a negative way.
Aside from a little feedback, it’s best to focus on being an authentic individual who isn’t dependent on others’ opinions. In time, you’ll find people who appreciate you for who you are because of your authenticity. And, the people who don’t appreciate you? That won’t matter so much since you’ll have been true to yourself, which is way more valuable than the impossible task of getting everyone to like you.
Focus on Becoming a Better Person Rather than Being Likeable
In his “Psychology Today” article entitled 8 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think, David Sack M.D. shares the following:
“Healthy striving is self-focused: ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other-focused: ‘What will they think?’”
If all you do is focus on others’ perceptions of you, that will bypass your best chances at discovering how to not care what people think of you. If your desire to fit in is too strong, you may find that you lose track of who you are in the process of pleasing others.
Everything will become lost in a never-ending pursuit of worrying about others’ thoughts and trying to please them. You will also find it easy to be taken advantage of by others because you’ll give more than you should to some people who are interested in nothing but taking from you.
Ironically, one of the surest ways to fail at gaining genuine appreciation from others is to consider that very thing the most important. It’s a classic example of wanting the cart to go before the horse. But as you give self-improvement more value over others’ opinions, people will like, appreciate and respect you more. You’ll be focusing on what matters most in life rather than mere opinion. And that’s much appreciated and valued to other well-adjusted people.
The Worst Criticism Often Comes from Yourself
Maybe in the back of your mind, you constantly hear the phrase, “You’ll never be good enough.” Or, you hear painful criticisms from parents, other caregivers or peers replayed in your mind like a broken record. Over time, you just accepted these self-critical and judgmental thoughts as your own—your just reward for never measuring up.
If so, you’re already overloaded with criticism since you live it seemingly at every moment. It makes all the more sense that you’d struggle with the potential rejection of others and want to avoid it at all costs. Also, because your internal dialogue is so frequently negative towards yourself, it’s easy to think that others feel the same way about you when they likely don’t.
Because of this, one of the most critical steps of how to stop worrying about what others think is to cease worrying about what you think. To let go of the false narratives you’ve created for yourself and replace them with healthier ones.
How to Not Care What People Think: Consider Counseling
People-pleasing tendencies are often deeply ingrained from childhood. And these patterns can be repeated thousands of times throughout someone’s life before finally realizing they need help to break the cycle. At that point, practical strategies by themselves sometimes aren’t enough.
Especially when habitual patterns of people-pleasing have taken hold, stress counseling makes sense. Your therapist can support you through the process of finding out where your people-pleasing habits come from and how to let go of unrealistic stress over what others may think. The result is a happier life where you focus on self-improvement over public opinion. It can be a freeing transformation.