2 WAYS TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT EVERYONE THINKS OF YOU
“What’s wrong with wanting others to like you?”
That’s what several of our course students asked me via email in response to one of our recent course discussions. And I’ve been asked similar questions over the years too. So today, I want to discuss why it’s not healthy to spend lots of time worrying about what everyone thinks of you, and how to stop yourself from doing so.
In a nutshell, tying your self-worth to everyone else’s opinions gives you a flawed sense of reality. But before we look at how to fix this, first we need to understand why we do it…
From wanting others to think we’re attractive, to checking the number of likes and comments on our Facebook and Instagram posts, most of us care about what others think. In fact, a big part of this is an innate desire that we are born with. It has been proven time and time again that babies’ emotions are often drawn directly from the behaviors of those around them.
As we grow up, we learn to separate our thoughts and emotions from everyone else’s, but many of us continue to seek – and in many cases beg for – positive social validation from others. In a recent survey we did with 1,500 of our course students and coaching clients, 67% of them admitted that their self-worth is strongly tied to what other people think of them. And this is concerning, because this can cause serious trouble when it comes to finding happiness and peace of mind.
The biggest problem is we tend to forget that people judge us based on a pool of influences in their own life that have absolutely nothing to do with us. For example, a person might assume things about you based on a troubled past experience they had with someone else that looks kind of like you, or someone else who shares your same last name, etc. Therefore, basing your self-worth on what others think puts you in a perpetual state of vulnerability – you are literally at the mercy of their unreliable, bias perspectives. If they see you in the right light, and respond to you in a positive, affirming manner, then you feel good about yourself. And if not, you feel like you did something wrong.
Bottom line: When you’re doing everything for other people, and basing your happiness and self-worth on their opinions, you’ve lost your moral center.
The good news is that we all have the capacity to watch our thoughts and expectations, identify which ones serve us, and then change the ones that do not.
So, in order to stop worrying so much about what others think, it’s time to inject some fresh objectivity into your life, and develop a value system that doesn’t depend on others every step of the way. Here are two things you can start doing today:
1. Refocus your attention on what DOES matter.
People will think what they want to think. You can’t control them. No matter how carefully you choose your words and mannerisms, there’s always a good chance they’ll be misinterpreted and twisted upside down by someone. Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things? No, it doesn’t.
What DOES matter is how you see yourself.
So when you’re making big decisions, make a habit of staying 100% true to your values and convictions. Never be ashamed of doing what feels right.
To help you implement this positive habit, start by listing out 5 to 10 things that are important to you when it comes to building your character and living your life honorably. For example:
Having a list like this to reference will give you an opportunity to consciously invoke your handpicked traits/behaviors in place of doing something random simply for the purpose of external validation. While it may sound overly simplistic, most people never take the time to actually decide what is important to them when it comes to their self-image – they let others decide for them.
2. Let go of your ‘end of the world’ thinking.
All variations of worrying, including worrying about rejection, thrive on ‘end of the world’ thinking. In other words, our emotions convince us that an undesirable outcome results in annihilation.
- What if they don’t like me?
- What if he rejects me?
- What if I don’t fit in and I’m left sitting alone at the party?
None of these things result in the end of the world, but if we convince ourselves that they do, we will irrationally fear these outcomes and give our fears control over us. The truth is, we – human beings – are inefficient at accurately predicting how future misfortune will make us feel. In fact, most of the time we avoid consciously thinking about it all together, which only perpetuates our subconscious fears.
So ask yourself: “If disaster should strike, and my fear of being rejected comes true, what are three constructive ways I could cope and move forward with my life?”
Sit down and tell yourself a story (write it down too if it helps) about how you will feel after rejection, how you will allow yourself to be upset for a short while, and then how you will begin the process of growing from the experience and moving on. Just doing this exercise will help you to feel less fear around the possibility of someone thinking poorly of you. And you’ll gradually begin to realize…
What other people think of you really doesn’t matter that much.
And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.