“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
From the very beginning, you were taught to always conform to what your parents, your teachers, and you friends perceived to be ‘normal’.
You were always instructed to ‘behave as a normal person’ and do whatever you can to fit in, to feel like you’re a part of the group. From that point on, everything changed. You started doing everything in your power to avoid being called ‘weird’ or ‘bizarre’ at all cost.
Just imagining the possible scenario of humiliation seems terrifying to you, so terrifying that it can even make it difficulty for you to breathe properly.
Before you begin reading this, you have to really understand one simple fact : it’s impossible for you to change unless you want to. You can read all the books out there, talk to everyone on earth, but if you’re not willing to really commit to becoming a better you, nothing will change for you, and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. With that being said, let’s try to figure out why you’re having this experience in the first place.
Of course there are many reasons to it, but the main reason is :
You think other people are woth more than you are
Basically, the main problem is that deep down, you believe that other people are inherently more valuable than you. When you’re always willingly compromising yourself, your needs, your opinions just so that people will approve of you, what you’re doing is drawing a viscous cycle, and here’s how it works. First, you behave in a certain way to ‘fit in’ and say certain things so that people won’t reject you, what this does, is that it will slowly destroy your self-esteem, so you start to think really low of yourself because you’re constantly monitoring your every move to be accepted, you’re putting a facade for people to see.
Then, when your self-esteem is damaged, you’ll become even more aware of what people think of you, simply because to you, your worth is defined by how others perceive you. This will make you seek approval even more, which will lower your self-esteem even more, and it goes on.
The natural outcome of this kind of thinking is simple : if other people can define my worth, I’m going to do my best so that they think I’m ‘good’ ‘decent’ ‘cool’ or whatever.
In a nutshell, the viscous cycle goes like this : looking for approval generates low self-esteem, and low self-esteem generates even more need for approval.
So what’s the deeper obstacle to overcome ?
If you really want to overcome your fear of what people are thinking or saying about you, there’s one essential area that you need to take care of, self-esteem.
Why self-esteem ? Remember what I said earlier, the main reason why you’re so caught up into what others think of you, is because you don’t know what you’re really worth, so anyone can convince you that you’re either awesome, or worthless.
“The most delightful surprise in life is to suddenly recognize your own worth.”
Picture this, you’re shopping for something, let’s say it’s a Tv that you want to buy. You’re looking at this new Tv, you want to buy it, but you’re not sure how much you’re going to pay for it. You look at your right, and you find two employees in that store, one says it’s 200$ the other says 700$. So, you don’t know the real price. The first problem with this is that anyone can convince you of anything, since you don’t have a solid belief to stand on. Did you guess what the other issue was ? It’s that you’re most likely to believe the employee that mentions the lower price. Do you see the similarity ?
It’s the same thing with self-esteem, when you have no price tag on yourself, people will most likely tag you with a bunch of low prices, and you’re going to go for the lowest bet.
You must develop high self-esteem because when you do, your opinion will become much more meaningful to you than the random comments people always make.
Here are three questions that you need to answer
Let’s analyse the situation from a purely logical perspective. Just answer the three following questions :
Is caring about what other people think actually useful in any way ?
You can say that you have a reputation to keep, or that it’s not ‘acceptable’ to behave otherwise, or any other excuse you can think of, but the fact is that it’s never useful, and you won’t find any possible situation where it helps you, the only thing that approval does to you is making you feel temporarily good about yourself, since your own worth depends on how others see you.
Can I make everyone agree with me / happy with me ?
No, it’s a well-known answer I think. No matter what you do, there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you do. The reasons are countless : jealousy, inferiority, personal issues……etc.
Why should I seek approval anyway ?
This is the most important question, and I want you to really think about it right now. Don’t read further, stop, and think about it. I mean really, why should you care ? Why ? do you have any logical reason ? I think you’ll find it impossible to give a clear reason other than poorly crafted excuses, but as for real reasons, they don’t actually exist.
The fact is there is absolutely no reason for you to care that much, if you don’t, nothing will happen. Think deeply about it, and let it sink in for a moment
How to do it in the real world :
If you read this far, I think it’s pretty obvious that this attitude of living according others’ standards is just a cause of stress, and it’s a toxic habit you need to burn out of your system.
Here are the practical steps to take each day, anywhere and at anytime, make them your second nature.
1. Be honest
Whether by coincidence you have the same opinion, or even if you’re alone with no one to back you up. The only thing that you should consider is whether or nor you’re right, the rest is just a big useless game of conformity. Don’t be afraid to show and voice your opinion even when everyone disagrees, contrary to what you might be thinking right now, it won’t generate conflicts, you have the right to express your thoughts as everyone else does, period.
To do : When someone asks you, give your true opinion
2. Change the way you think
Here’s a major false popular belief : if most people are doing something, then they must be right. Guess what, that’s totally false, and I think you already know that. You have to change the way you think about people, and how they think.
When you see the majority doing something, don’t blindly joing them, Instead you should judge the situation. It’s nothing too heady, just see if it’s worth it. Are they doing something because they think it’s useful, or are they doing it to be like everyone else ?
What you should understand is this :
“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”
― Leo Tolstoy, A Confession by Leo Tolstoy, Religious Theology
To do : Always remember that you can be right even if no one else thinks you are
3. When under pressure, keep a reminder nearby
Even if you agree with every word in this article, you’ll most likely forget it and look for the comfort zone when you’re under real life pressure, so I suggest you keep a reminder with you all the time in order to quickly check it under those conditions. This will enable you to refresh your mind, and it will remind you of how useless your fear of others’ opinions really is.
Your reminder could be a quote, this article, or any other useful resource that you can find. The point is that in a time of crisis, reading your reminder on your smartphone will quickly give you mental balance and clarity, and stop you from giving in to the heat of the moment.
To do : Find a reminder (you can use the one at the bottom) and save it to your smartphone
4. Act without too much overthinking
I know this can be hard at first, but here’s what I suggest. Because you have been acting in an ‘acceptable’ manner for the most part of you life, asking you to just ‘do what you want’ is just plain stupid. Instead, here’s what you can do : whenever you find yourself acting in a way that you know is just so others won’t think negatively of you, just ask yourself this question : if no one was judging me, how would I act ? And do just what comes up to your mind.
What this does, is that it forms a thinking habit within your mind, it will help you to learn authenticity, and unlearn that superficial behaviour that has become a habit overtime. The result ? You’ll be much more spontaneous and authentic once you do it right, and you’ll no longer feel the need anyone’s permission to live your life.
To do : Watch out for any behaviours that are meant to seek approval. When they happen, ask yourself : if no one was judging me, what would I do ? and do that
5. Be consistent and take action
I said it earlier, but it’s worth repeating it. You have to take these steps and put them into practice. It’s nothing different from anything you learn, with practice you’ll find that caring about what people say was really silly, and really not worth you time or effort.
The takeaway is this : start applying what you’ve just read.
To do : Apply the steps mentionned here
Here’s what you should expect
In the early days, you’ll feel like you don’t really know what you’re doing. All of this seems useless, and you’ll be tempted to go back to your comfort zone. Don’t fall into this trap, it’s just your mind playing you.
Remember that caring about what others say is a habit, so it will gradually fade away. Don’t expect immediate results, but I’ll tell you approximately that it’ll take you from 4–12 months in order to become really careless and overcome this mental barrier.
To download the reminder, click here.
The steps mentioned are effective, but they’ll only work if you make the mindset shift right now. You have to commit, and not give up in times of crisis. Ultimately, it’s really a choice, so what do you choose ? living a toxic life to impress people who don’t matter or living your own life to the fullest ? I’ll end with something I want to say : You don’t need others’ permission to live your life, it’s yours.
If you want to take yourself to the next level, I suggest reading The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem it’s a great book that will teach you how to build your self-esteem, which will solve the problem from its roots and enable you to stop caring about what others think forever.
If you liked this post, share it with your friends to spread the word !
What about you ? Do you care too much about what other people think ? Tell me in the comments !
You might also like :
6 Easy Ways to Become Confident From Scratch
6 Steps to Overcome Social Anxiety