As much as we hate to admit it, we typically put too much stock into what other people think.
While it can appear helpful at times – I use my husband as the swing vote when I can’t choose between shoes – it’s more often a huge hindrance to our lives.
Here are 5 ways to stop worrying about other people’s opinions of you, and start confidently living your most authentic life.
Start by Finding Your Tribe
There’s strength in numbers. If you’re worried about what other people think, surround yourself with those doing just what you want to do.
Switching careers? Reach out and find a mentor who’s doing what you want to do, and who understands where you are. Ask how they dealt with criticism, and perhaps you’ll find the things you’re concerned about aren’t an issue.
Years ago I wanted to learn to knit. I was 25 and knitting was not something those in my social circle were into. So I found a class at a yarn store near my apartment, and met a group of women – some my age – who were into the same thing!
I didn’t worry if my friends would think it was nerdy, because I sat with a group of people each week that enjoyed it as much as I did. Do this a couple of times and you’ll soon realize, that no matter what you’re into, there’s a group that thinks it’s awesome.
Tune into Your Authentic Self
If you aren’t tuned in to what you truly want out of life, it’s easy to be swayed by the fear of outside judgment.
There are days I head out for a run and must look re-dic-u-lous. I have a hat for possible rain, a flashing light because it’s dusk, and mismatched shorts and top because they were clean.
It’d be easy to fear what other runners think of me as I run past (often air drumming down the sidewalk if my playlist is on point), and avoid it by using the treadmill or just not running.
But you know what? I LOVE running outside. I love it so much that it trumps any fear about how I look.
The next time you worry about how you appear to others, focus on your core beliefs and desires. If you’re staying in the corporate job you dread because you fear people will think you’re crazy for starting your own yoga practice, stop.
Ask yourself if you believe in you. Reflect on your biggest passions and desires. Are they being met? If not, make whatever change you need because you need to make it. Focus on living in a way that aligns with your values and tune out the rest.
Picture the Worst
I typically advise clients to focus on the positive, but to stop worrying about what others think, I take the opposite stance. Think of the worst-case scenario, if your worries were true.
You’ve been tempted to enter the weight room at your gym for weeks, but worry that others will think you don’t know what you’re doing, or will think you’re weak if you only use 8lb dumbbells.
What if they do? Really, what would happen if a guy you do not know, thinks 8lbs is light. Nothing! If you don’t know how to do an exercise, ask someone – people love to show off what they know. If you’re using a machine incorrectly, the worst that will happen is someone may show you how. Hey, now you know!
My point is, it’s never as bad as you make it out to be in your head. By analyzing your greatest worry, you find the outcome is rarely as scary as you’ve built it up to be.
Notice You’re a Small Fish
In the best way possible; no one cares about you! We spend a lot of time fretting over how our responses are received, what people think of our clothes, how cool our social life appears, what our career says about us, etc.
Do you spend much time thinking about what your coworker wore at your last meeting? What reason your friend gave that she can’t do dinner tomorrow? If your cousin made the right move staying with her company? I’m guessing not, and neither are others.
We’re too caught up in what our own life looks like, to spend much effort worrying about what other people are doing.
When I have clients who want to do a class at their gym, the thing stopping them is always how they’ll look. I’ve been to, and taught, many classes and I can tell you everyone is too laser-focused on what they’re doing, to notice that you did a squat instead of a lunge. Take comfort in that!
Realize You’ll Never Know (and Be OK with it)
No matter how many scenarios we come up with, we’ll never actually know what people think of us. We’re unique beings and our different experiences shape how we view the world and act in it.
While it may be frustrating to not know how you’re perceived, it’s OK! What others think of your actions does not affect their results. Get comfortable with doing and saying things because you want to, and you’ll realize nothing changes. Except for a feeling of freedom you didn’t have before!
Share some stories about what happened when you stopped giving what others think power over your life in the comment section below!