Others opinions of you are just that, their opinions. And you should never waste your time and energy on trying to prove them you are more than that.
I’ve struggled with crippling social anxiety and a deadly addiction my whole life. And after long periods of unemployment, isolation, desperation, and living life based on what others think of me, I’ve made a complete one-eighty.
Today, others’ opinions don’t bother me nearly as much. And often, not at all.
Not too many years ago, if someone gave me a confused look, I’d collapse into a downward spiral of fear, self-doubt, guilt, and shame for several days. Now if they do the same, I assume they’re confused and move on. No big deal.
How’d I got here?
10 Ways to Stop Caring about Others Opinions
1. I’m Not as Important as I Thought
I’m funny. Nice. Smart. Helpful. Sincere. Hard-working. Friendly. I’ve got lots of positive qualities.
…But I’m not the center of attention. Celebrities, the president, and sports players are.
Me? I’m just another guy. Why should everyone else be so concerned with me?
Turns out, they’re not. My mind exaggerates my own importance. So I remember that when I’m tempted to feel overwhelmed with other’s opinions.
2. Stop Caring about Others Opinions by Replacing Ego with Humility
Your ego constantly says you must be the center of the universe. Mine does. But not to the extent it used to.
These days, I focus on humility. This doesn’t mean I’m less than others. It simply means I know and accept who I am and only think about that.
‘True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ~ C.S. Lewis
I’m not better than the next person. But neither am I worse. I’m a worthwhile person with assets and flaws. But not really a big deal.
Since that’s true, there’s no good reason for me to worry about what others think.
3. The Real Problem Rests in Me
For much of my life, I thought the big problem was others thinking negatively about me. It’s certainly an issue. Not a good thing.
But it’s not the big problem. And I can’t do a thing about what others think of me anyway.
So it turns out, the problem is my belief others have certain opinions of me. The second I even begin to consider that, I turn my thoughts to something else.
4. Focus on Being Helpful to Others and You’ll Stop Caring about Others Opinions
When I think about what others think of me, I’m focused on, well, me. So I take the focus off me by seeing what I can do to serve others.
That could mean simply introducing myself and asking someone else a few questions to get to know them. Or maybe it’s showing them around. It could be doing a simple chore for them.
When I care what others think, I’m not as helpful to them. I won’t reach out to do what I can for them. And that keeps the focus on me.
5. It’s Easier to Share Your Opinion of Someone Else than Yourself
It’s human nature to focus more on what others do. Why?
It distracts you from yourself.
By default, no one wants to look at themselves to see what they can do better. That involves some discomfort and hard work.
Who wants to do that?
When someone spots flaws in another person, they’re really telling you what they don’t like about themselves.
Once I understood this, it became easier to not take what others say personally. And it became doubly important for me to focus on my own flaws and improving them.
It’s hard to create a life you love. You have to take risks. That could mean ending relationships with people you care about (a lot).
Or maybe you leave a job. You don’t always know the way forward. You simply act and trust your life will work out.
Not easy to do.
When you live the life you love, you have no need to worry about others’ opinions. If it makes you happy, why concern yourself with what others think?
Only two things happen when you enter the comparison trap:
- You come out way worse than others (more usual for me)
- You end up way better than others
Both are painful. When you feel worse than others, you’re depressed and don’t like yourself. So you naturally assume others don’t like you either.
When you feel better than others, you really don’t like yourself but don’t know it. You also naturally assume others don’t like you, but you hide that fact from yourself.
Each mindset makes you lonely and sensitive to others’ opinions. So today, I always consider myself equal to everyone.
Since other people’s thoughts and opinions arise in their own minds, what business is it of mine to know them?
If others think it, that’s their business. If I think it, that’s my business.
Simple. But it takes a lot of work to master in daily practice.
“Why do you think the old stories tell of men who set out on great journeys to impress the gods? Because trying to impress people just isn’t worth the time and effort.” ~ Henry Rollins
People are flawed. They make mistakes. Sometimes catastrophic ones.
However, the Higher Power of my understanding is perfect, benevolent, gracious, and fair.
As a result, I only focus on having the approval of that Higher Power.
10. Set Boundaries
Some people live their whole lives ranting and raving about what others do. People with serious emotional issues like this are not a part of my social network.
That’s included minimizing contact with family members. Some new potential friendships I won’t pursue. And others I have to come in contact with, I limit the time I have with them.
When around them, I’ll change the subject or say I don’t see the use in the direction the conversation’s going.
None of these strategies were instant (or easy). But over time, they’ve helped me let go of what other people think. And that’s added an amazing measure of peace, relaxation, and confidence that I’ve not previously had.