From survival to a career there are plenty of biological and social reasons people worry about what others think of them. While these reasons are valid, sometimes we tend to take the perception of other people too far.
This, in turn, can take a toll on our mental health and our lives when we finally become obsessed and start acting in uncharacteristic ways.
It is valid to want acceptance, respect, trust, and love from other people but we have to be careful not to take things so far that we begin to neglect our own feelings and true self. Doing that could harbor resentment. You could also end up developing a mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or others.
Without further ado, here are 8 signs you worry too much about what others think of you.
Reminder, this article is for informational and entertainment purposes only. If you need help with any kind of diagnosis or treatment please see a health professional about that.
1. You judge yourself based on other people’s perceptions
Do you remember those remarks that your family and friends casually threw out in a conversation? Even though they were not about you, those words probably still haunt you. How showing cleavage is bad so, even though you like it, you make sure to get clothes that do not show cleavage.
How working online is not a job and the people who do it are lazy. Which makes you doubt taking that awesome online job that pays more than a normal job, with the added benefit that you don’t have to spend so much on gas and get more money to yourself.
Or how having a certain opinion makes those people irresponsible and crazy. In which case you make sure not to let your opinion on that certain topic known and even chastise yourself on having these beliefs and thoughts even though they are well-founded.
Judging yourself based on other people’s general opinions on things can make you doubt yourself, create negative thought patterns criticizing yourself on everything, and lower your self-esteem.
2. You’re a perfectionist or the exact opposite
From the test you took yesterday to cleaning your room, everything needs to be neat and perfect. What will people say after all? You don’t want them to think badly of you or judge you.
And, whenever you have a project you seem to take longer than usual with it. Either going over it a million times or reading everything you think you need to read before you start the project. Obsessing and trying to find ways to fit absolutely everything you find in it, even though it might not have anything to do with the project.
On the other hand, you could be the exact opposite. You don’t really pay attention to the test nor do you worry excessively or at all, about keeping your space tidy. Why would you? People are going to judge anyway whether you do or don’t so it doesn’t make sense that you go through all the trouble when you can just get the same treatment or be left alone by doing nothing.
Both extremes can be the result of worrying too much about what other people think. One side being overly dependent, the other having given up to the point where you neglect yourself.
3. You don’t have boundaries nor speak up
Have you had your parents or friends confront you but you couldn’t say anything back? The words are there at the tip of your tongue but as the other person keeps talking, what you want to say moves to the back of your throat and you feel a squeeze. They are disrespecting you, they are talking nonsense because they don’t have all of the story or they are the ones to blame for the mishap but you still can’t say anything.
You think that even if you do say something they are not going to listen, based on how they reacted. Or maybe you just can’t form the right sentences in order to sound sane and coherent.
Either way, you keep thinking about how the other person will react or think about what you want to say creating so many fake scenarios in your head that you end up just not saying or doing anything. Fearing how they will react or your lack of response to how they react.
4. You apologize constantly
You apologize for wearing the “wrong” thing, making a mistake, and for generally everything even if it’s not your fault. You apologize because you are afraid that if you don’t, people will start treating you differently. You might be afraid of conflict and are probably focusing too much on other people’s needs.
You also might feel that everything is your fault or that you are a burden. This contributes to over-apologizing which is a way for you to try to not escalate things, even if it’s not your fault.
5. You take criticism too harshly and personally
Have you ever felt completely crushed after someone pointed out just one little thing about a project you’re working on? If so, you might be taking that criticism too personally.
While there are a lot of people who do, in fact, insult others under the guise of giving criticism not everyone is like that. If after someone sits you down, kindly explaining to you that there are a few things that could be changed to make your project better, you start feeling like a complete failure, you are taking the criticism and advice too harshly.
Done well, criticism is there to help us. Yes, with the amount of time you put into this project you could say that there is a piece of you in it. But, when people point things out that can be better they are not trying to bring you down. They only want you to see that your project can be more than it already is.
They are not trying to insult you or bring you down. If they are, then the problem lies with them and not you.
6. You don’t make your own decisions
You are packing to spend a weekend with family. You put all of the necessities in, including some elegant outfits just in case there is a party or you have to go out. You start closing your suitcase when you suddenly remember that one time that you got berated for an outfit you thought was appropriate or that other time you forgot something important and everyone shamed you for it.
You decide to call your mother to help you make sure you have everything and that everything is up to standard. Your mother ends up changing all of your outfits to more “appropriate ones” and makes sure you have everything you need. Even though you don’t like the changes she forced you to make, you feel better because now you have her approval, which also means you will have the approval of your other family members and not be embarrassed.
A lot of the time, people who worry about what others think can’t make their own decisions solely based on what they want. They have to have input from others or have others make their decisions for them because that means approval and acceptance. As well as less of a chance of being ostracized or cast away.
7. You often overthink what you’re going to say
You are having a conversation and you have the perfect story or response to what was said. Or so you think. Just before you say anything your brain goes over the exact words you want to express. Then it goes over them again. You realize then that maybe you can change the wording on one of the parts because it sounds a bit insulting.
You go over it again and notice another part that may come out wrong. You change your mind. You keep repeating the process until what you wanted to say is completely changed and may not even make sense now. On top of that the conversation has shifted so there’s really no reason why you should bring it up now.
Overthinking and changing what you’re going to say because you think it might come off the wrong way, even though you have heard other people say similar things without any consequences, is a sign of worrying too much about what other people think.
8. You keep thinking of something that happened years ago
Do you find yourself at night thinking about that one embarrassing thing that happened years ago? You may still feel a little bit of guilt or shame. And every time you relieve it, the feeling washes over you again with force.
This prompts you to then think about what would happen if you were to meet that person or people again on the street. Forcing you to create scenarios in your head and making you very afraid of what an imaginary person would think or say to you about something that happened years ago and they might not even remember.
Although this example could be a sign of anxiety, it also stands that it can be a sign of your worrying too much about what other people think. To the point where you extend this worry to imaginary or fictional people or situations.
Do you identify with any of the points above? Tell us your story in the comments and let us know which point you resonated with the most. Remember that while there are times when perception is important, it is not everything and you should not focus your life around it.
Agathangelou, F. (2014, October 15). Stop Judging Yourself Negatively to Increase Self-Esteem. HealthyPlace. Retrieved from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/06/stop-judging-yourself-negatively-to-boost-self-esteem.
Bettino, K. (2021, June 21). Tips to soothe your worries of what others think of you. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/mental-shifts-to-stop-caring-what-people-think-of-you.
Martin, S. (2021, September 18). Why you over-apologize and how to stop. Live Well with Sharon Martin. Retrieved from https://www.livewellwithsharonmartin.com/why-you-over-apologize-and-how-to-stop/.