When some of us were growing up we would hear this question often, regardless of language : “What Will People Say?”
This question was the end all and be all of decision making. “You can’t wear that in public!” “You can’t say this about her/him!” (it was rarely a lie). “You can’t study that! You won’t have a job or succeed!” “The neighbours/church/family elders would be appalled!” This was usually said by people who claimed to not care about what others thought of them, but that’s not the point.
We have learned to care much more about others than ourselves and in return, our self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth has suffered because we are begging for acceptance from outside sources that don’t have our best interests at heart or who just don’t care at all. Basing your actions on what people think of you takes away from your power. So if you think you might worry too much about what others think of you, here are 8 signs that you worry about what other people think about you.
- You Constantly Want The Approval & Validation of Other People
Do you want everyone to like you? Do you feel like you or your work isn’t good enough until someone says so? You might crave external approval and validation. You often do things that you don’t really like and you go with the crowd for fear of ridicule and being pushed out of the herd.
If you knew that you were good enough, had enough self-worth and were just more than enough in general, you wouldn’t need to constantly strive for people’s validation and approval. It would all come from you. It’s impossible to please everyone. You deserve validation and approval but the best place to get it is from within. Be proud of and celebrate yourself first without waiting for someone to vindicate your wins.
- You Have A Hard Time Saying “No”
This can range from not being able to tell the homeless person on the street that you don’t have any change to or not being able to turn down an event with friends because of how tired you are. You feel automatically obligated to say yes and oblige them at your own personal cost. The opposite consequence of saying no, would have you believing that you will be letting them down. And you are being consumed with guilt because you weren’t being “a good person”.
You worry that disappointing them will result in them withdrawing their love and respect for you and just stop liking you. Our society has been programmed to “give until it hurts” not realizing that we must have something left over to give ourselves. Learning to give a firm, solid “No” is as important as an empathetic and excited “Yes”.
To become a happier person, as Casey Imafidon said, you must focus on the internal and not the external. You have a right to say “No. ”
- You Don’t Express Your True Opinions
Does saying exactly what’s on your mind make your heart skip a beat? And not the good kind? Do you not express your opinion if it’s different from everyone else’s? You don’t like expressing the real you because you are concerned about how others will take it and say about it. That they will belittle and chastise you for daring to be different.
Not expressing yourself makes other people the priority over you. Their opinions are now more important than yours because “what will people say?” You constantly self-censor because it might offend the wrong people or someone’s sensibilities.
- You Harshly Criticize Yourself
You are probably a greater person than you think but you wouldn’t take the word of an internet stranger about it, right? You’d take a friend or a family member’s but all of these three combined are no match for the destructive self-critic that lives in your head. You over analyze every single thing that you do from what it is, why you’re doing it, how you’ll do it, when and where while judging yourself on not being good enough either way.
You are a perfectionist and these unrealistically high expectations don’t come from wanting to be good enough in your work or your life in general but because if you do everything right, many people will like and admire you. You fear their rejection if you’re not good enough because then they will see that you’re insecure about something that you love and are good at, but if they reject it, you feel like it’s game over. You’re rarely satisfied with who you are and how you do things because you are looking at yourself from other people’s mystery perspectives.
- You Apologize Even When You Haven’t Done Anything Wrong
Do you find yourself making peace and apologizing when you’ve done nothing wrong? Do you identify with the role of peacemaker and all the self-sacrifice that comes with it even when you don’t actually want to be? You just need to say sorry so that people can move on from the uncomfortable atmosphere and onto other things.
Being a peacemaker is good and apologizing when mistakes are made is healthy but when you haven’t done anything wrong or have to discard what you like to seem good, sociable or to be liked by someone, that is unhealthy for you. You’re worried that if you don’t apologize and smooth things over you’ll be thrown out. You don’t want to disappoint anyone at all ever. This might be a leftover trait from a dysfunctional childhood or childhood home or an abusive relationship/situation. It’s okay to say sorry but you have to don’t take on another person’s burdens and responsibility in the name of peace.
- You Struggle With Setting & Enforcing Boundaries
Standing up for yourself if you haven’t done it in a long time or you have never done it before can be as challenging as cutting another toxic habit out of your life. This is not a judgment. Some of us had to be boundaryless to survive in hard conditions and circumstances that didn’t make sense and that’s okay. It’s okay to do what you need to do to survive.
However when that survival strategy is no longer serving you, you will need to unlearn it. When it comes to setting boundaries, you may struggle with enforcing them for yourself and with others. You feel like you are pushing them away but it’s the opposite. It’s setting the tone for a healthy relationship and more integrity, dignity and self-respect on your part. It also helps you to not really care about others opinions because you have nothing to prove or concern yourself about because you are living on your own terms.
- You Don’t Follow Your Intuition
Our intuition is an absolute blessing in helping us decide what we need, want and in finding out the truth. Like any muscle, it can be trained and strengthened to perform at an incredible level. When we are in tune with it, we are in tune with ourselves and things that were important might have actually not been and we can happily move forward in life.
Intuition says “yes” or “no”. It’s a feeling that you don’t always know how to put in words but you will feel it. When we decide to ignore it and go with the group flow when it doesn’t feel right, we are then not caring about our own well-being first and instead putting others above us, making us care about what others think about us more than our own opinions of self. Not listening to and following it can also have consequences regarding our personal safety.
- You Try To Read People’s Minds
Some people wish they could read minds and others don’t care. The difference between these two groups is that the one may struggle with voicing their opinions and instead, would like to just know what others are thinking about them or what they want to be liked by them. They perform a lot of mental gymnastics and spend too much time wondering about what others are thinking or saying about them, resulting in more unwarranted paranoia and distress.
Most of the time it’s a waste of time, as the second group knows. They would either verbally say something about it directly to the person who they want to get the information from or just decide that it’s unnecessary because it actually doesn’t matter what other people think about them. Granted, reading minds might be cool but it’s a very tiring and impolite thing to do to yourself. It’s better to read books and Privacy Policies, not other people’s minds which you have no control over.
This post wasn’t making fun of anyone who cares about what others think about them. As humans, we are social creatures and getting feedback does help us grow, learn more and have more harmony in our community. We essentially need each other. I was stating how caring too much about other people’s opinions of you results in a horrible thing happening: the disappearance and suffocation of your own soul and spirit. It’s a painful thing to be invisible when you want to be seen and heard but a fear that was given to you about being authentic exists and dominates your life. It will take some time but you can eventually learn how to care less about what others think about you and mostly think, “What do I think about this?”
Good luck and goodbye!
*Imafidon, C. (2015, August 2). 10 signs that you care too much about what others think. Lifehack. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.lifehack.org/296469/10-signs-that-you-care-too-much-about-what-others-think.
*Nanji, Z. (2020). 6 signs you worry too much about what others think of you . RSS. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.zaheennanji.com/rr/6-signs-you-worry-too-much-about-what-others-think-of-you.
*Ramzan, N. (2021). 6 signs that you worry about what other people think of you. Natasha Counseling. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.instagram.com/p/CUloYRIsIjl/.
*30, K. A., & Kalka, U. (2019, June 15). 10 signs that shows you care too much about what other people think. Freaky Thoughts. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.rujave.com/signs-you-care-too-much-about-what-other-people-think/.