A favorite saying of inspirational/self-help gurus and influencers alike is: “stop caring what people think”. ((eye-roll)) ((yawn))
Tough ❤️, even if you decide you are going to dedicate time and energy into not caring what others think, you are not going to succeed.
Here’s why: It’s impossible for us to not care what others think. We are literally programmed to care what others think. Inherently and by cultural and social standards.
- Inherently. Thousands of years ago we learned that being in a pack is advantageous to survival. So much so, that when we are rejected, our brain is equipped to trigger an alert response that can feel as intense as actual, physical pain. We literally fear rejection due to an outdated primal instinct. This is because being away from the pack would decrease our chances of survival. Literally, we could have died.
- Social standards. We’ve been trained since childhood to care what people think. As we grow we learn cultural norms. Stay quiet in certain spaces, act certain ways in other spaces. Sometimes we were asked, “What will so and so think if you do x.” A line of thinking was born.
- Culturally. We try to keep up with the Joneses. We want to be liked so we can get the most attractive mate. We see what other people are doing and we buy things and do things to make then like us. It’s our ego, which has been fed by advertising and marketing, working on overdrive.
Don’t worry though, I got you! There is a way for you to get to your goal: removal of worry over what people think, by having a different mentality.
I can’t control what people think.
First we need to get to the point of knowing what we can and can’t control and train ourselves to not worry over what we can’t control. With this mentality, we realize that while we can’t control how people perceive us and we can’t control miscommunications, we can control how we respond to them and we can encourage open conversations. We can also control who we respond to and where we focus our attention. If someone who we do not care for misunderstands us we can decide to let that rest and not spend the energy clearing it up.
When we focus on what we can and can’t control, we remove anxiety over what other people think. That reduced anxiety and worry can look like us not caring what people think.
There is a certain freedom in acknowledging and accepting that you are always going to care what people think. An even greater feeling is also acknowledging you can’t control what they think either. When we realize we can’t control what people think, and we make that realization part of our core beliefs and automatic thoughts, we overpower our inherent and trained response of worrying what people think.
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