We all like making good first impressions. In some cases, like meeting you in-laws for the first time, job or college interview, or a first date, first impressions matter. But, our desire to impress others has been distorted by social media. Social media has set wildly photoshopped expectations of who or what we should be. Our lives have been commodified and assigned values through likes, share, or retweets, so we live with the constant pressue of: what will they think. As a result, our desire for validation and our sensitivity to criticism increased.
Granted, our insecurities are also formed due to trauma suffered in early childhood or negligent or abusive parents.
Regardless, we feel inadequate and insecure so invest too much value on words uttered by strangers.
But, what if you could stop caring about what others think? What would happen then? The possibilities are endless, but I am willing to bet that you would feel a lot lighter and happier.
Here are some ways to stop caring what others think of you.
- Not everyone cares
If you are anxious about being liked, try to see things from a different perspective.
The majority of the poeple around you willl have enough to occupy their minds. They are busy with thinking about family, work, and whatever else to form a detailed opinion about you. It sounds harsh, but it is a relief. Not all eyes are on you, so feel free to be yourself.
Also, everyone is plagued by insecurities and they might be too busy to immediately recognize yours. So, if you are worried the impression you made on someone you’ve just met, remember they too are fretting over the same thing.
- Who do you want to be?
The opinion that you have about yourself should be the one that matters. The value you place on someone’s opinion of you should correlate with the nature of your relationship to that person.
Through childhood, we are impressionable
When you allow other’s opinion to influence and dominate your life, you are handing them your power and agency.
Instead ask yourself what you like, what you want, and whether the choices you are making are to please or impress others. Viewing your decisions through this lens will help you become self-assured. Learn the importance of setting and living up to your own standards, not someone elses.
- Accept your flaws
We all strive for perfection and it can be helpful if it motivates you. But it’s pursuit is fruitless especially if you are more concerned about someone’s perception of you. This trivial and vain pursuit is damaging to your self-esteem and confidence.
Often, we have negative perceptions of ourselves that have been engrained into our subconcious since childhood. Tackling these thoughts can be difficult because we’ve internalized them and operate based on past erroneous perceptions.
A way of tackling them is by striving for self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is a journey to embrace all of the facets within yourself– unconditionally. The journey can difficult as it recquires you to trapeze along the fine line of acceptance and complacancy. There can be many things you would want to change, and you should if they are harmful. But, you have to learn to embrace the bad and still leave room for growth. Practicing self-acceptance help you become ok with your general sense of self (who you in this point in time). It serves as a building block for self-esteem and personal improvement.
- Be selective about the things you care about
Sometime four years ago, I was walking around Strand bookstore and came across The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F* by Mark Manson. It’s not I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s an bright orange book with black bold titles. I had seen the book everywhere and decided to succumb to the fervor that usually surrounds a New York Times bestselling novel.
I bought the book. Like its cover, the book presents bold ideas. On page five, I read a sentence that would change my perception. One of the first theories presented states that the key to a happy life is to be selective about the things care. This revelation is not new, but reading it on a page made me put things in perspective. We spend out times fretting over the most inane things that we lose focus on what matters.
Meditation and practicing self-awareness can help you shift your focus away from your negative thoughts.
- Accept that not everyone will like you
In life, there will some people who will like you, and others might not. It’s fine. Own it. Own your uniqueness and the qualities that make you who you are, and try to find people who have a vested interest in who you are. People who will accept all of you. People who will be supportive and kind. These are the people who deserve to walk with you.
- Take on the challenges.
Challenges can appear frightening at times. As imperfect beings, we have a tendency to learn towards cognitive distortions and negative patterns of thinking. It’s an evolutionary trait that was formed to keep our ancestors from danger. However, it often keeps us from going after the things we want in life.
We often worry that we will end up looking like fools because of a mistake. It’s fine. Mistakes are inevitable, and avoiding them is futile. If you can surpass your fear of making mistakes and build a resilience to the pain that may come from pursuing your goals, you will be unstoppable.
One way to deal with anxiety of messing up to make a list. It sounds silly, I know. However, thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong can help create some distance between the ideations and the reality. It also allows you to logically process possible outcomes and provide solutions. If it feels as though you cannot handle the outcomes on your own, ask someone supportive and reliable for help.
It is fine to want to make a good impression on others, but learning to dial down that inner self-conscious voice is important. It allows you to create space for things that matter, and can help you lead a happy and fulfilled life.
Lester, Tonya. “Deal With Anxiety By Making a ‘Dread’ List.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 20 Aug. 2020, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/staying-sane-inside-insanity/202008/deal-anxiety-making-dread-list.
Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. HarperOne, 2016.
Neuman, Fredric. Caring What Other People Think. 23 June 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fighting-fear/201306/caring-what-other-people-think.
Sack, David. “8 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 17 Oct. 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201610/8-ways-stop-worrying-about-what-other-people-think.
Seltzer, Leon F. “The Path to Unconditional Self-Acceptance.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 10 Sept. 2008, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/200809/the-path-unconditional-self-acceptance.