Worry Less About What Others Think

We are wired to connect with other people, so it only makes sense that we would be sensitive to their evaluations of us. However, an over-focus on the opinions of others can become paralyzing and anxiety-producing.

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Everyone wants to feel included, valued, and loved, but wasting time and energy worrying what friends, family, and acquaintances think about us usually does more harm than good. We care about other people and understandably want to be well liked. It’s not wrong to give some thought to others’ views, but the problem comes when we care about what someone else thinks more than what we think. This can bring a lot of stress and get in the way of our happiness.

The first thing to consider is that you can never really know what someone else thinks of you. Too often, women seem to think that they are mind readers and can say with near certainty that someone else thinks they aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, etc. We create negative portrayals of ourselves that may have no real basis in reality and then project them onto someone else. You can’t say for sure what another person is thinking, and it’s unnecessarily damaging to act like you do. 

Also—this might be a tough pill to swallow, but the truth is that other people probably aren’t giving us lots of space in their brains at all. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that we wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of us if we knew how seldom they do. Kind of stings a bit, but it helps put things in perspective that we don’t have to create a big drama trying to guess what someone is thinking.

But let’s say that your fears are confirmed and someone you know actually does think less of you. Who really cares? 

It’s all right if someone doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t like all your choices, or generally doesn’t think you have it all together. We can’t use other people’s approval as our main source of motivation. As a former people-pleaser, I understand this is difficult. But when something isn’t our business (and this includes others’ opinions of us), it’s best we stay out of it. My guess is that you have more than enough going on in your life to occupy your attention; no need to be burdened by someone else’s view of you on top of everything else. 

And guess what else? You can be happy without someone else’s approval! You don’t need others to validate you; you can validate you! This is such a liberating truth that I wish I had known many years ago. It doesn’t really matter if someone doesn’t like your beliefs, your clothes, your career, your significant other, etc. It doesn’t have to bear any influence on your sense of joy and well-being. It’s draining to care so much about what others think of you, and it’s incredibly refreshing to let go of that worry. I promise you that you’ll have more emotional energy to spend on things and people that really matter to you.

And finally, one of the best reasons to quit worrying about what people are saying or thinking about you is that your self-worth is constant. You are a human being of infinite value. Be careful not to inadvertently link your worth to someone or something else. 

When I was young and beginning my career as a singer/songwriter, I was extremely sensitive to what critics said about my music. I’m grateful that much of my work was well received, but when a song didn’t do quite as well as I had wanted or expected, I was crushed. Looking back, I realize that this was partially because I was tying my worth to someone’s opinion of my art. I’m thankful to know now that my self-worth is unchanging, no matter what happens in my career.

Almost all of us have spent too much energy stressing about what someone else thinks. I invite you to consider how you can let go of this stress to be content with yourself and reach your own personal potential.

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