How to Stop Caring About What Others Think of You?

3 min read

six white and brown eggs on white towel
six white and brown eggs on white towel

85% of people you encounter are worried about what you think of them.

Just like you’re worried about their opinion of you.

This is rooted in our human evolution.

Your prehistoric ancestor, walking through a jungle somewhere, was driven by the survival instinct and any eyes looking at them represented a threat, a potential predator. As a result, their brain evolved to scan for this type of threat.

On the flip side, that same ancestor relied greatly on a community around them. Banding together was a way to survive; getting rejected and kicked out of the community was to be avoided at all costs.

How did they do it? Well, in layman’s terms: by caring to fit in and be liked.

What does this mean for you?

Well, the part of the brain that involuntarily controls your fear hasn’t evolved significantly in 10,000 years.

This is why, fast-forward to today, almost 80% of people fear public speaking. Even more people care what others think of them. This becomes further intensified for people who grew up watching adults care about the approval of others, or who’d been bullied and shamed in some way.

Imagine a time when you were picked on or made fun of. Maybe you were teased for your physical feature or an outfit you wore. It’s likely that you responded to this by never wearing that same outfit or second-guessing your future fashion choices.

As a kid, I was teased for my big teeth. For many years I’d never smile in pictures. (Now I grin like a horse!)

While this mechanism is designed to protect us, it actually harms us in the long run.

It teaches us to hide our true selves and to fit in.

But by focusing to fit in, you sacrifice the amazing and unique gift of the person you truly are.

This turns people into people-pleasers and chameleons who put on a false front to gain approval and acceptance – without ever getting it.

As you grow older, this technique only makes you feel worse. It leads to more frustration and disappointment. You are surrounded by people who like you for the person you’re pretending to be, not for who you really are. You may also lose a sense of who you truly are--this leads to emptiness and numbness.

I am, and so are you.

As humans, we are more alike than we are different. We all experience similar struggles, including feeling insecure and wanting the approval of others.

Let’s say you’re about to meet someone new at a networking event and want to make a great first impression. You think through what you want to say, how you’re going to say it, and when you’re going to say it. You pick out your favorite outfit, you pep yourself up, you feel confident and ready to have a good time.

When you finally introduce yourself, however,, you freeze up, forget what you were going to say, and later feel like you made a fool of yourself. This makes the next event even harder.

Except, you’re not alone. It’s more than likely that the person you’re talking to is worried about the impression they are making, too.

Thinking too much about your impression is a self-defeating approach, because it’s rooted in fear. Caring too much about your impression disconnects you from yourself and frequently leads to a terrible impression.

Thankfully, there’s a better way.

The rule of thirds.

No matter who you are and what you do,

  • ⅓ of people will love you

  • ⅓ of people will hate you

  • ⅓ of people will be indifferent

Focus on the first third and on being as authentic as humanly possible. This will breed self-confidence and self-trust and give you the approval that matters.

As Dr. Seuss put it, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”

Bonus tips!

Here are some other truths that you can nurture into your own beliefs:

  • Not everyone is going to like you. But, if you like yourself, you won’t care.

  • Not needing approval leads to freedom, and that leads to happiness. What do you prefer, being approved or being happy?

  • Most people don’t care about you, and never will. Accept it.

  • If you can’t be a good original, what makes you think you’d make a good copy?

  • Instead of worrying about your impression, approach people from a place of generosity: focus on them, get curious about them, and make them feel comfortable.

And, my favorite: show the world your middle finger and create your own reality! :-)