Has someone ever said something to you that’s gotten lodged in your head? Does it feel like all the people around you are constantly talking about you, spreading rumors, or slandering your name in a bad way? Maybe it feels like everybody else’s opinion is part of your self image, or that you try too hard to impress others so that they can make you feel as though you’re validated, special, or even worthy of being around them.
This constant worrying can be a huge weight on your shoulders. Validation and happiness should come from you, especially when other people can’t see you the way that you truly are, so why let any negativity or malice get to you? Although this sort of thing is easier said than done…
Here are 7 ways to stop caring about what others think
1. Showing gratitude for yourself and your accomplishments
Have you taken a moment recently to look at how far you’ve come, versus how far the people around you have? It’s all too easy to get caught up in trying to impress those around you with the best grades, skills, and financial income. Maybe you feel as though if you aren’t earning enough money or accomplishing enough, that you aren’t important, or that others may look at you wish shame, scorn, or even pity.
According to a study published by Ernst T Bohlmeijer, Jannis T Kraiss, Philip Watkins, and Marijke Schotanus-Dijkstra from the Journal of Happiness Studies, showing gratitude not only to those around you, but even yourself was an effective way of enhancing mental well being. Think about all of the things that you have done in the past couple years, chances are you’re not in the exact same place that you were, and that you’ve had to overcome some of your own personal challenges and difficulties to get where you are today. Be your own cheerleader, and look inward to find validation and pride in what you do, and who you are! You have your own hobbies, tastes, and interests that combine together to make you, you!
2. Alone time is OK, unplug and step away!
When it comes to taking in the opinions of others, do you tend to think “out of sight, out of mind”? While this may not necessarily be true, a thorough review of multiple research papers over the years has come to the conclusion that usage of social media may be a cause for helping those who don’t have much contact with others feel more connected, as social media is intended to do. However, for others, correlations can be spotted for the opposite as well. Using social media when you’re going through tough times may have evidence to show that it may be making it harder to shake off the way you feel, or reminding you of how you stand compared to others (Taylor-Jackson & Moustafa).
It’s no doubt that when we connect with other people, we can let their opinions, successes, mindsets, and actions overpower ours, both good and bad. Sometimes, taking some time alone and away from the internet may help you see more positive results. After all, a phone or a computer is your gateway to millions upon millions of people that you can interact with, which can sometimes feel overwhelming, almost as though we have to care what each and every individual person says and feels. Try to limit how many people you speak to at one time when you’re feeling overwhelmed with what they may think of you, it may help you feel less bombarded with opinions and thoughts when you may just need a breather.
3. We are all human, nobody is Superman
Do you compare yourself to others? Do you belittle your achievements from time to time in face of somebody else? This is such a common occurence that just about everybody on earth has done from time to time. You may hear the phrase that “nobody is perfect” over and over, but what does it actually mean? When people tell us that famous companies like Microsoft and Apple started in garages, or that other people have done incredible things without going to college, how is that supposed to make us feel or think?
“Putting others on a pedistal” can sometimes dilude us from what type of person they really are, or the type of person that we really want to be. We think that we want to be just like our heroes, so sometimes we feel that we are insignificant in comparison. This can be especially direct when your hero is somebody you know, or somebody you admire highly, like a parent, boss, or a very smart friend. But it helps to remember that they started making the same mistakes as you, even if they seem to be perfect. There is no “magic” gift that only a handful of people get when they’re born, and everyone can mess up from time to time. Remember that this person is a breathing, living human being, that has made, and still makes mistakes, even if you may not see them.
4. Keeping focus on what you want
With texts to answer, phone calls to make, emails to send, and projects to do, it can be a slippery slope to fall into the ideas and wishes of others, without asking yourself what you want. “Keep your eyes on the prize”, as they say! Every person has different perceptions, desires, hobbies, and passions that they love. No two people are exactly the same. Because of this, you may find yourself caring about what other people tell you that you should want. Others may try to reframe your wants or desires to fit their thoughts and feelings, without fulling thinking about yours.
So, how can you keep focus during a time like this? The answer is simple! Be selective of the things you care about. If you worry about every possibility that somebody else presents to you, you’re going to worry about things that you aren’t truly passionate about. Things that may make you think “Why am I doing this?” or “Wait, I don’t like doing this thing at all!”. To avoid falling into these sinkholes, spend less time worrying about every small thing, and try to repaint a picture of what you truly want (How To Stop Caring What Others Think Of You 2020).
5. Sculpt the person you are!
Do you know why you feel the way you feel when someone else laughs at you? Or why certain words, phrases, or types of personalities bother you in the way that they do? When you take the time to focus on what everyone else wants, you may forget that there is a lot about yourself that you don’t know. Do you ever feel confused about your emotions? Questions may go through your head such as “Why did I do that?!”, “Why do I keep messing this up?”, or “I have no idea what to feel right now”. This can be a good indicator that you need to learn more about yourself to find out why you may feel nervous, or even scared of judgement, or what others think about you.
Looking through your person and finding out why you become anxious about others, or even why you may worry about the mistakes you make can help you grow. We can get very tied up in relationships attempting to please those arounds us, that we forget who is at the center of all of the panic and worry, and neglect ourselves. After all, it is just a matter of our survival instinct, which is something that our ancestors have embedded in us from ages ago (How To Stop Caring What Others Think Of You 2020).
6. Don’t try to make everyone happy, you can’t
No matter who you are, you can’t make everyone happy. Personalities clash, opinions differ, and everyone is constantly changing not only how they view you, but also themselves. That is, the people that are paying attention enough to judge you. People can be fickle and have their own priorities, just like you. If you’ve made a huge mistake that felt like everyone in the world was laughing at you, you can remember or at least imagine how it may felt like the end of your entire life. However, this is never the case. People move on, forget, or already have a positive or negative opinion about you. Striving to make everyone happy with your actions is truly an impossible task, one of which nobody in the world can, or has ever accomplished.
Making sure that you can balance both how something makes you feel between how something actually is can help ground you in reality. Mistakes are meant to be made, and people are born different. The best person you can be true to is yourself (Abrams, 2017).
7. Building your self esteem
“You’re your own worst critic” is a saying that has been repeated time and time again, and it’s a very true one at that. Given that we are the people responsible for making and learning from our own experiences, we tend to put ourselves at the center of blame as a result. But this can have consequences if you damage yourself instead of correcting yourself when things go wrong, which can hurt your self esteem.
Some may categorize self esteem as being self centered, but these two things are vastly different. Having a good self esteem can help you assert your thoughts and needs, make decisions, and help you be more realistic in your decisions (Does your self-esteem need a boost? 2020). These benefits can help pry away the seemingly compulsive need to check or analyze how other people think about you. When you are able to maintain a clear, wholesome image of yourself with all of your strengths and talents, you may find that other people’s perceptions and glares just roll right off of your shoulders.
Maintaining a healthy view of ourselves with fair criticism and well placed confidence can be an enormous part of helping ourselves not care about what others think about ourselves. Do you feel like your perspective regarding how you view yourself, or why you worried about others has shifted after reading this article? Do you notice any patterns or worries that you have about yourself in particular that you want to gain more confidence in? We would love to hear any comments or thoughts you may have. Thank you so much for all of your love and support Psych2Goers. Your love, support, and interaction helps us make psychology more accessible to those who need it all over the world. Thank you!
Abrams, A. (2017, October 1). Overcoming the need to please | psychology Today. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/nurturing-self-compassion/201710/overcoming-the-need-please
Bohlmeijer, E. T., Kraiss, J. T., Watkins, P., & Schotanus-Dijkstra, M. (2020, May 7). Promoting gratitude as a resource for Sustainable Mental Health: Results of a 3-armed randomized controlled trial up to 6 months follow-up – journal of happiness studies. SpringerLink. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-020-00261-5#
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, July 14). Does your self-esteem need a boost? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/self-esteem/art-20047976
Psych2Go. (2020). How To Stop Caring What Others Think Of You. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z47yumuVdtU.
Taylor-Jackson, J., & Moustafa, A. A. (2021). The relationships between social media use and factors relating to depression. The Nature of Depression, 171–182. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-817676-4.00010-9