As much as we don’t want to admit it, the words and opinions of other people can really hurt sometimes. They deal blows to our egos, make us second guess our choices, and can even paralyze us with fear. Caring about what others think is natural, but caring too much will ultimately cripple our lives. Here are four practical steps that you can take right now to stop caring, and start living.
1. Focus On The Things That Matter
I started this blog in July 2018 because I wanted to write about dating and how self-improvement is a major component of it. It took me nearly 4 months to write my first article because I became focused on things that didn’t really matter.
“What if someone thought I was a bad writer?”
“What if someone disagreed with what I had to say?”
“What if I spend all this time, and nobody likes it?”
It’s possible that these things can happen. Maybe you’re reading this article right now and you think it’s terrible. I would prefer that you didn’t, but ultimately it’s okay because that isn’t what matters. What matters to me is being able to share my thoughts and message, and whether others approve or not is up to them. Figure out what truly matters for you, and then go after it. Don’t let the judgmental thoughts of other people be your focus.
2. Practice Doing Less
In order to not care about what others think, you have to be very comfortable and confident in yourself. Of course this is easier said than done, but it is doable. A good way to start developing this comfort is to do less with yourself. What does this mean?
Think about all the things that you do everyday to make yourself “presentable” to others. Do you spend a lot of time styling your hair, doing your makeup, and organizing outfits to wear? It’s understandable; we all like to look good because it makes us feel good too. But what if you could feel good by just being yourself?
Here’s an exercise that you can do: try putting in less effort when you go out. I’m not saying that you should roll out in your pajamas or anything, but try skipping over one or two things in your usual routine. Maybe you could leave the expensive watch at home, or pass on the draw-on eyebrows. As you become more comfortable, put in even less effort.
You’ll find that life will carry on, and nothing will really be that different. Maybe you won’t look as stunning as you usually do, but who’s noticing? The fact of the matter is, nobody is really paying that much attention to you. Just as we’re the main character of our own lives, they’re the main characters of their own. We’re constantly considering what others could be thinking, when they probably don’t even care in the first place.
This exercise will allow you to realize this truth, and it’ll help you build that comfort that you’ll need. Do less, be more.
3. Embrace Embarrassment
Think about the most embarrassing moment of your life. What happened?
Did your mind go blank while giving a presentation? Did you forget a date’s name in the middle of dinner? Or even worse, did you say “thanks, you too” when the waiter told you to enjoy your food? Whatever the situation was, think about this:
Doesn’t it seem like a really good story right now?
Look, embarrassing things happen to all of us. We can try avoiding it by sheltering ourselves, but that periodic feeling of shame will always manage to catch us eventually. Someway, somehow. We can’t change that. But what we can change is our approach to embarrassing situations.
Realize this, nearly every embarrassing moment is just a good story later on. Being embarrassed is never fun in the present moment, but it can be in the future. Your flustered feelings will fade. Other people’s memories of the event will chip away. But that fine story material will be with you forever.
The next time you’re caught in an embarrassing situation, embrace it. It’s already happening. Instead of getting shook by the possible thoughts of the people around you, think about how it’ll be a funny memory in a few days. Because it will be.
4. Accept That You Can’t Always Win
Let’s all admit it, we care about the approval and praise of others. It makes us feel good, and it gives us assurance that we’re doing the right thing. The opposite holds true as well, having someone disapprove and criticize us is never a good feeling. When it happens, we innately feel the need to try and prove them wrong.
Sometimes, we try really hard.
One of the greatest contributors of self-consciousness is this want to gain other people’s approval. We want others to like us, and we put in a tremendous amount of effort to make it happen. But here’s the thing:
You can’t always win.
It’s not ideal, but this is how life is. You can be the best possible person that you can be, but there’s always going to be someone out there who isn’t on the same page as you. No matter what you do in life, someone is always going to have something to say about it.
If all you do is study, someone is going to call you out and say you should play some sports. If you’re an athletic superstar, someone is going to comment that you’re a dumb jock who should spend more time studying.
For every person that says you look fantastic with makeup, there’s another that says you’re wearing too much.
You can cure cancer, and someone will complain that you didn’t do it sooner.
This is how life is. That’s how some others think. You can’t impress everybody that you meet. Not everyone is going to approve of what you do, and how you are. And that’s okay.
Instead of trying to impress everyone you meet, focus on impressing yourself. Do the things you want to do, and be the person you want to be. As soon as you accept that, whatever other people think won’t mean a damn thing.