How many times have you stood at the school gates worrying about what the other mums think of you. Admit it–you care a lot about what other people think.
Don’t worry, it’s natural. We’re hardwired to seek acceptance and social approval–it’s in our DNA, after all.
That’s why disapproval and rejection hurt so much. It’s also why we get lonely. But let’s face it–we’re all guilty of spending too much time worrying about how others see us instead of simply living our lives in the best way we can.
What would my friends think if they saw this?
What would my colleagues say if I turned up to work dressed like this?
What does doing this/watching this/thinking this say about me?
Let’s be honest. We all think along these lines every single day, and it needs to stop because it’s ruining our lives. That’s why you’re reading this post, after all–you know you worry over what people think, and you’re sick of it.
But I’ve got good news for you.
You can stop giving a damn about what people think about you right now. How is this possible, you’re probably wondering. Don’t worry. It’s really very simple.
No one really cares about what your up to anyway
There’s not a single person out there who cares about the content of your daily life the way you think they do. After all everyone’s more interested in what’s going on in their own lives than in anyone else’s. They haven’t the time or inclination to worry about you or anyone else. That’s the problem with the ego–we all have it, and we all think we’re special enough to occupy someone else’s every waking thought. Truth is, that’s just not possible.
We all see the world, and everything in it, from our own unique perspective. That means we spend a lot of time worrying over what’s important to us, what’s normal for us, and, of course, if anyone’s judging us. Can you see the problem here?
We’re all thinking the same thoughts. When you’re worrying about what other people think about you, that same person is worrying over what you think of them. The reality, is that they’re probably not thinking about you at all. Crazy, isn’t it?
Even crazier is this –we each have at least 50,000 individual thoughts a day. That is a lot of thinking. Over half of these thoughts are negative, and many of them are repetitions of the thoughts we had the day before. Our brains like routine, apparently–even unhealthy ones.
What does this mean, then?
- People think many negative thoughts about themselves, so they’re too busy worrying about their own lives to judge yours; and
- People think the same things over and over again, whether it’s about their problems or their passions, so that one fleeting thought they had about you doesn’t stick around very long.
Unless you affect someone in a significant way, or you do something which directly affects their lives, those one or two judgmental thoughts they might have go right out the window. Worrying about how anyone else sees you is a complete waste of time–and only adds to your negative thought cycle.
Not convinced? That’s okay. Here are some examples which might make matters clearer.
Using the gym
You look around at all these people who look amazing in their sports gear and seem like they were born knowing how to lift weights or sprint on the treadmill. Your thoughts go something like this:
I’m not going to look good in sports gear- everyone will look at me and know I don’t know what I’m doing!
I’m going to look so stupid trying this. Best I don’t bother.
I’ve been staring at these instructions for two whole minutes and I still can’t turn this thing on. Everyone must be judging me now.
What if I do something wrong and it’s loud and everyone turns around and notices?
Guess what? Everyone’s too busy thinking the exact same thoughts. Maybe we should all just, …stop self-obsessing and help each other or something!
Going on a date
You’re in a restaurant and you’re worrying about whether you will share a taxi home. The menu is a minefield, and all can you think is, do I have spinach in my teeth?
Guess what–you’re date’s thinking all of these thoughts, too. Even if a sly slither of lettuce gets stuck in those teeth, you’re date will just be glad it didn’t happen to them (see how we turn everything back to ourselves?)
You won’t get any thanks for it
As you can see, worrying about how others see you is the definition of time-wasting. Even if someone does judge you, the thought isn’t even significant to them, let alone you. That brings us to our next point.
No one asked you to care what they think of you, so they won’t thank you for living your life like this.
Sure, your parents, significant other and close friends might hope you weigh their opinions against your own. Your boss probably wants you to remember how they’d feel if you turned in work late and had a party in the conference room. But in reality:
- No one’s sitting there expecting you to live your life based on how they see you;
- No one’s on the subway thinking wow, I’m so glad everyone based their fashion choices on how I feel about life at 6am on a Monday morning;
- No one’s going to come up to you and say, Thanks for making all your decisions today based on how I, an anonymous person in the street, feel about it!
Get the picture?
Let’s put it this way–if no one thinks about your daily life choices very much, and no one asks you to dictate your life around their approval, then why do you give a hoot what they think?
No, we don’t know, either.
Stop trying to please everyone- it never works and makes you less appealing
Even if you’ll always care, to a degree, what certain people think about you, you can’t please everyone. It’s just not possible. The more you try to please everyone, the less people like or respect you. It will lead to you losing sight of what you want and how important your opinions and thoughts are. Don’t do this. As we’ve said before, no one will thank you for it, anyway.
Giving a hoot what people think means spending your whole life knowing that somewhere out there is someone who would judge you. That’s tiring and not at all healthy. When all you do is accommodate other people’s thoughts and feelings, everyone else just sees you as a pushover. A doormat. While we say you shouldn’t give a hoot what people think, having everyone see you as a soft touch is an exception because:
- You attract people who will abuse your good nature and dampen your self-esteem.
- You will attract people who will take advantage of you.
There are over 7.6 billion people on this planet right now. Every single one of them has their own unique opinions, beliefs, and contributions to make to this world. No one is the exact same.
For everyone who approves of you and your life choices, there’ll be many that don’t. This is the same no matter how perfectly you try to lead your life and how conscious you are of everyone else’s thoughts and feelings.
Worst case scenario–someone judges you and decides, based on one random thought they have about you, that they wouldn’t want to be your friend or they don’t have anything in common with you.
We’re pretty sure that with over 7.6 billion people on the planet that this one person isn’t much of a loss. Instead, focus on surrounding yourself with people who respect you for owning yourself and living by your own game plan.
To recap: you shouldn’t give a hoot what people think because it’s a waste of time. You can’t please everyone, and no one respects you for trying. Embrace the fact that no one has the amount of hoots to give that you think they do.
Now how do you take back control and stop giving so many hoots?
Work out who you are
Obvious right? However, how many of us actually take the time to connect with ourselves and find out who we really are? An effective way to stop giving a hoot what other people think is to understand yourself and be passionate about what you believe in. You should know:
- What matters to you most in life? Money, freedom, family, or fighting for causes you believe in? Ask yourself a question–what would I do for the rest of my life if money wasn’t an issue? A simple question like this provides illuminating answers.
- Who matters to you the most? Most of us only have a small number of friends and family we consider ourselves “close” to. Surrounding yourself with people who have similar values to your own will make you happier in the long run. Why? Not just because they’re more likely to approve of you–instead, it’s because you have common beliefs.
- What you want to achieve in life? Maybe you want to raise a family, travel the world, make a difference, get famous or simply be happy inside. It doesn’t matter what your life goal is–what matters is that you own it. Once you love who you are and what you want, you automatically stop worrying about what others might think.
Make positive changes
Make changes to your life which coincide with the goals you’ve discovered above. Remember–your happiness is just as important as anyone else’s, and you should own what makes you unique.
What happens when you embrace “you”? You attract positive influences and people who respect you. Self-assured, confident people are naturally appealing to others, and you’ll find that more of the right opportunities and contacts come your way.
Dump negative influences
Those friends you’re always worrying about impressing, that person who takes you for granted, the clique who make you feel embarrassed about what inspires you–get rid of them. Now. Don’t wait. Once you stop thinking about fitting in with whatever they want, you’ll become a happier version of yourself.
Freeing yourself from unhealthy influences frees up more hoots for you to give about what matters to you. Sounds like it’s worth a shot.
Find others who don’t care about what others think
Whether you know them in real life or you simply follow them on social media accounts, surround yourself with people who reinforce how important it is to not give a hoot about what people think. Life gets tough sometimes, and it’s easy to forget what matters to you. Filling your news feed with positive energy, socializing with other self-assured people and reading uplifting books will help you stay on track.
Try something new
When you’re embracing your new zero-hoots-given lifestyle, you don’t just need a new attitude–you need to try new things. Trying new things is shown to:
- Boost morale and self-confidence;
- Expand your horizons;
- Start an exercise regime;
- Improve your social network;
- Improve your overall satisfaction with life; and
- Teach you more about yourself than staying in your comfort zone ever will.
Whether you start small or go large, do something daring today. Wear that bright, bold shirt you love but haven’t had the courage to wear yet. Book tickets to see that band you don’t normally admit to listening to. Start a blog and share your views. Ask that cute commuter who you see every day out to lunch.
Maybe you’ll be acting “out of character”, but that’s only if you’ve been portraying a certain identity to the outside world which isn’t the real you. Acting out of character can also be a good thing–it will reveal sides of you that you never knew existed.
What’s the worst that can happen, anyway?
Make a bucket list
Instead of dreaming about them, note down all the different things you want to try and all the places you want to go and create a plan of action. Maybe you can’t afford to travel the world right now, but what can you do instead? Writing things down will help you see what matters to you and give you something to focus on.
And when someone asks you what kind of things you’re hoping to do over the next few years? Answer them honestly. If you’ve got a lifelong passion or a quirky hobby, own it.
Most people secretly wish they didn’t care so much about what other people think. They wish they could be more like you–a strong, self-confident individual who doesn’t give a hoot what others think. Life’s too short to waste it worrying about what that mum on the school playground thinks of your bright orange shoes.
Do something on your own
If there’s one sure way to kick you out of your comfort zone and stop giving a damn about what people think, it’s traveling alone. Some people think there’s a “stigma” attached to this–if you’re one of these people, that’s all the more reason to give it a try. We’re back to the same problem–if you worry what other people think, you’re not living your best life. And no one’s got time for that.
If you can’t afford traveling right now, or you can’t get time off work, that’s okay. There are still plenty of adventures you can have on your own.
Whatever you do, go and do it on your own. Show yourself that you can enjoy your own company and that you believe in yourself enough to successfully navigate somewhere on your own. You could:
- Visit a museum;
- Go to the theatre;
- Go to a restaurant alone–don’t sit on your phone, own it!
- Go to the movies alone; or
- Go see a sports game on your own.
The world’s at your fingertips, folks. Don’t waste the opportunities because you’re scared what other people might have to say.
At the end of the day, your life is yours to live–and yours alone. By embracing your zero-hoots-given philosophy, you’ll become the best version of you…and who knows, you might even encourage others to do the same.
Live your life without caring so much about what others think. Good luck.