If you focus on what other people think, you will run your life based on that. Worrying about the judgement, opinion, and criticism can turn you into someone you are not and make you question everything you have done, do, and will do. I know how much it sucks to lay awake worrying about this and that, but I also know how to stop worrying about what other people think and get on living your life.
I used to worry about everyone so much that I would do ridiculous things just to fit in, such as say and do things that went against my ethics. I would beat myself up after a simple conversation with someone rethinking what I said and what I should have said. I would literally drive myself crazy having fake conversations in my mind as I worried about what other people thought of me. But, once I decided that enough was enough, and I learned how to stop worrying about what others were thinking, life got so much better.
The following 10 insights can help you stop worrying about others so much. Take the time to read through them and try something that resonates with you. Don’t waste any more time focused on things that don’t really matter.
1. Do Good Things The Best That You Can
Sounds simple, right? Then how come so many of us don’t do it? This is an essential tip on how to stop worrying about what others are thinking.
Your opinion about you is more important than anyone else’s opinion about you. If you approve of yourself, then you don’t need other people to approve of you. But, it’s important to be yourself, and be the best version of yourself that you can be, so that you can approve of yourself.
Starting today, make your intention to do good things the best that you can. With this intention, you will not be doing things for validation from others, but, rather, for validation from yourself. If you are constantly doing good things for yourself and other people, and you are doing them to the best of your ability, then you will feel amazing about yourself and other people’s opinions won’t carry as much weight.
This doesn’t mean that you are going to be perfect. Sometimes you will screw up. Sometimes you will tick people off. But, if you acknowledge that you are being a good person and doing the best that you can, you won’t be so hard on yourself. You will pat yourself on the back for trying and move on with your life.
2. Ask Yourself How Often They Think Of You
I used to think that I was the center of the universe. When I went out to my driveway, for example, I honestly imagined the whole neighborhood watching me as I went about my business. I was sure that everyone was focused on me and thinking about me 24 hours a day. But eventually I gave my head a shake and looked at things from a different perspective.
The truth was that I hardly thought about other people because I was so busy thinking about myself. Even if they stood out or did something outrageous, I barely gave them much attention after the situation was over. And if I did, it was more about me than them. I would focus on what they said and how I could have handled the situation better. Or, I would focus on what they did and how it affected me. In other words, it really wasn’t about them.
Guess what? We are all like that! The people that you think are judging you are really more concerned with themselves. Half of those people probably don’t even notice you because their focus is on themselves and their concerns. And the other half doesn’t focus on you much longer than a few minutes. They would much rather focus on their life and their worries.
Yes, there may be a few people who are obsessed with you, some in a good way and some in a bad way, but if you are using the above tip, and doing the best that you can, then there is nothing you can do about them. Don’t let a couple of people’s opinions define you.
3. Get Busy In Life
Once I got busy with my life, I didn’t have time to sit around and think about what people thought. By busy I mean focusing on personal goals and hanging out with friends and family. When you are busy focusing on what you need to get done or hanging out with good friends, you just don’t have time to obsess about what other people are thinking.
Therefore, every time you start worrying about what others are thinking, redirect your attention to something in your life. For instance, if you run into a neighbor and have an awkward conversation that leaves you wondering if they really like you or not, shift your focus to baking cookies, cleaning your house, or reading a book that you’ve been wanting to read. Fill up your time with more productive things.
4. Talk It Out
Sometimes you just need someone to give you the low down on how unimportant you really are (in a good way). If you have a partner, they can be great for this, but a friend or family member will work too.
Ask them to let you know when you are obsessing about what other people think and get them to remind you that you are not the center of other people’s universes and that they probably don’t think about this as much as you do. Or, get them to tell you something else you need to hear, such as how wonderful you are and if other people can’t see that, then screw them!
A dose of reality from someone else is a great way to snap out of the worrying state. They can also help you think of things differently and distract you from your worrying.
5. Visualize The Worst Case Scenario
If you find that you can’t stop obsessing about what someone else is thinking, then visualize the worst case scenario. For instance, if you think your boss is judging you on your every move, then visualize the worst case scenario of the situation. For most people, this would be that she or he fires you. If that happens, is your life going to end? No! You will simply start looking for another job and not have to work with your boss anymore. Or you may want to start your own business. Either way, there’s no reason to worry about it because things will keep moving forward and will work out in one way or the other.
In some instances, you will see there is no worst case scenario. For instance, I used to worry about a neighbor not liking me. When I tried visualizing the worst case scenario for me, I saw that there really was none. The fact that she didn’t like me didn’t affect me at all! The worst that could happen was she would not talk to me, and she was already not talking to me! That same day I stopped worrying about what she thought about me and, because I completely took my attention off her, she seemed to disappear from my world altogether.
6. Visualize The Best Case Scenario
Instead of worrying that others are thinking negatively about you, visualize them thinking positively about you. Maybe they want to be more like you. Maybe they secretly like you and don’t want to give that away. Maybe they are unhappy that you are so happy.
I know that I’ve found myself staring at other people in the midst of thinking about how great they looked or how nice they were. I didn’t have a smile on my face. I was just looking and thinking. If they saw me looking at them, they probably thought I was judging them in a negative way since my normal resting face is not quite an upbeat look. If they were to go on with their day worrying about what I had been thinking, it would be a complete waste of time because I was thinking something positive!
That’s how I try to view other people now. Unless they outright tell me that they are not happy with me, or roll their eyes at me, or give me some indication that they are disgusted with me, I visualize them seeing the best in me, not the worst. I visualize myself inspiring them to do something great, not in an egocentric way, but in a positive way. It helps me feel good about myself and our interaction, and it is a great tip on how to stop worrying about what others think.
7. Embrace Rejection By Others
The thing is that you will always care a little about what other people think about you. If you didn’t care, then you would be a sociopath. Even if you stop worrying, you will still be hurt when someone thinks you are doing something bad when you are doing something good. But, instead of resisting what other people think, embrace it for what it is.
Some people are going to reject you. They are going to try to make you feel bad no matter what. They are going to put you down, tell you off, be mean to you, bully you, and think poorly about you even if you are the nicest person in their life. This is because some people are miserable. These are people you don’t need to please, yet alone have in your life. This kind of rejection shows you the type of people that are not healthy for your life, so be glad that there is such an obvious sign like this.
And some people may have real reasons to reject you. You may be too pushy, too needy, too egocentric, or too something else. This kind of rejection teaches you about yourself and who you want to be in life. Therefore, if someone points an angry finger at you, it may be time to look at yourself. If you find some truth in it, then you have been given a gift. You can now work on that area of your life and improve yourself.
In other words, instead of worrying about what other people think, take the time to decide if they are right or not. If they are, then take action on improving yourself. If they are not, then don’t focus on them, instead focus on people who actually value you for who you are.
8. Get Curious On The Reality Of People
Most people have an opinion on everyone. Even open-minded people will find themselves judging others in some way. We all see and judge based on our beliefs and experiences in life, and instead of worrying about what other people think, get curious about it.
For instance, why would someone call Mother Theresa a crook and a fraud? Because they heard that she tied children to beds and beat them. Or why would someone hate the Dalai Lama? Because they heard he eats veal and that other people write what he should say instead of him thinking for himself. Or why did people talk behind my back at one of my jobs? Because they heard an untrue rumor and enjoyed talking about it.
It’s interesting how other people can view certain people through negative lenses, regardless of what the majority think, but the fact is that people can see the ugly in others, even if they are not sure if it is true or not.
When you understand that many people are just naturally negative and suspicious of others, you can let go of being so upset or worried about what they think. That’s their problem, not yours. They may have heard something negative about you or interpreted something the wrong way, and that’s just the way it is. You are not going to change their opinion, so why waste any time worrying about how to? Instead, especially if you can’t get rid of them from your life, try to understand where they are coming from. That will be time much better spent.
9. Get Clear On Your Story
We all have a story about our lives that we tell ourselves. These stories describe our lives and define them.
For instance, some people have a victim story where they have had many struggles in life and are doomed to many more, and that causes them to worry that other people are going to hurt them or take advantage of them. And, some people have a story that they are stupid and unworthy, which causes them to worry that other people constantly view them like that. Your story defines what you think about yourself and what you think others think about you.
The good news is that you can write a new story. You can look at your past, assign a new meaning to it, and create a new truth about who you are that will help you define yourself and how you view other people. For instance, your story could be front the second point in this article. It could be that you always do the best that you can and strive to do good in this world and that most people admire you for that.
10. Consider Something More Professional
If the above things don’t help you on how to stop worrying about what others think, then you may need to seek out a therapist. Deep rooted issues from childhood can cause people to worry obsessively about what others think. You may be aware of them or you may not, but a therapist can help you go back to those times, deal with those issues, and then rebuild how you view your life and other people in it. Everyone I’ve come across who has taken the time to do this has said it was a life-changing experience that they don’t think they would have had otherwise.