How to Not Care Too Much About What People May Think of You

by Henrik Edberg


Image by VinothChandar (license).

.“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
Aristotle

What other people think and say about you and what you do can hold you back in life. If you care too much about their opinions.

You may not take some action that you want to take because you fear being judged by someone or people in general.

You may not make improvements or changes in your life because you know, based on previous experiences, how some people could react if you did that.

Caring about what other people think about what you do in a healthy way can help you to gain valuable feedback and keep you grounded. But caring too much about what people may say or think if you do something can keep you in the same old rut, unable to move forward and to live the life you truly want to live.

So how can you overcome this common issue and find more inner freedom to do what you want? Well, people will always have thoughts and opinions about things. But you can learn how to care about what they say and think in a more helpful way.

In this article I’ll share 5 tips that have helped me to make that shift.

1. First, people don’t think about you and what you do that much really.

Holding yourself back in life because of what other people may think or say does, in my experience, to a large part come from a belief that people care a great deal about what you are about to say or do. Perhaps you are afraid that people will laugh or analyze what you said or did for the rest of the week or year.

But a much more realistic scenario is that they have their hands full with worrying about their own lives and what people may think of them instead. This might make you feel less important in your own head. But it also sets you free a bit more if you’d like that.

Yes, in your head you may be the most important person in the world. But don’t project that onto other people. Because in their world the most important person is probably themselves or their kids.

2. Take praise and criticism evenly.

My mindset for praise – that I try to stick to as much as I can – is that it’s cool and I appreciate it. It’s great to get praise, but I seldom get overly excited about it and jump and down shouting enthusiastically.

A great upside of this mindset is that when you receive the opposite – negative criticism – you can often observe it calmly without too much wild, negative emotions blocking the way. This allows you to appreciate that piece of criticism too (if there is something to learn from it).

Going about things this way can help you to not care too much about what other people think.

3. Care more about what you think about yourself.

If you care too much about what people think of you then that craving need can make you feel quite needy and you start to define yourself based on what they may think of you.

So replace that somewhat desperate need with something healthier, something you have more power over. Something that will give you more inner stability and lets your life not become a rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions controlled by other people’s opinions.

Start caring more about what you think about yourself and start raising your own self-esteem.

Two ways of doing that are:

The daily self-appreciation journal.

It is easy to get lost in basing your self-esteem on just what you accomplish, on what you get done in a day or week. Or on what other people may think about you and tell you about yourself. But basing your self-esteem on just that makes it pretty unstable.

One way to help yourself out with that and with appreciating what is good and awesome about you is to use a self-appreciation journal.

You can do that by taking out a pen and notepad (or use a word processor on your computer or cell phone) every evening for a week. There you write down 5 things you appreciate about yourself. But make sure that you do not only write down accomplishments.

Also write down good stuff related to your core-self esteem. By that I mean things that always there no matter how you perform at work or in school. It could be things/traits like your sense of humor, your kindness, your honesty, wisdom, creativity and so on.

Be kind and understanding towards others (and yourself).

By being kinder towards and more understanding of others if becomes easier to do the same to yourself. One simple way to focus on being more understanding and kind when you feel the need to judge someone is to use helpful questions. One I find to be really effective is:

What parts of this person can I see in myself? How is he or she like me?

This one helps me to shift my perspective from what is different and what I feel the need to judge to what we have in common instead. This tears down the mental barriers between us and I can feel closer to and more understanding of this person.

Try it out whenever you feel the need to judge someone, no matter if it is someone close to you or someone you don’t even know.

By doing so it becomes more natural to extend and use this more understanding and kind frame of mind when you view yourself too. And by behaving in this way towards others you will feel better about yourself and in that way raise your self-esteem too.

Plus, by being kinder towards others you are more likely to get that kindness back from them too.

4. Remember, not all things that they may say or think is really about you.

If someone is pretty much always negative about what other people do or he or she often makes personal attacks and let the destructive words flow then, when such things are aimed at you, remember that it isn’t always about you.

Such words or negative habits can be a way for that person to release pent up anger, frustration or jealousy about something in his or her own life. Or a way to reinforce that his or her viewpoint or belief is the right one. Or he or she may have habit of getting others involved emotionally – baiting them – to build a negative spiral, an argument or fight to get attention. It’s about him or her. Not about something you did or want to do.

It can have a calming effect to remember this. And to remember that the other person is still human and might be having a bad day, month, marriage or job.

5. Listen to the supportive and level-headed people.

I wouldn’t recommend to stop caring about what people may say altogether. Listening to what they have to say can provide you with valuable feedback and help you to keep yourself grounded so that your life and relationships do not spin out of control or break down.

But try to choose who you listen to. Listening to your relative that is always angry about everything or a friend that always sees the pessimistic side of things may not help you so much.




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{ 28 comments }

Lynn Ruby July 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Especially resonant with #1 !!! People don’t think about you and what you do that much REALLY (caps added). I did a video post yesterday where I said “we’re all self involved creatures”! So just think, if everyone is as concerned about themselves as you are, well then, how much time do they have to think about you anyway – REALLY! Thank you Henrik!

Tathata July 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Oh, number 4 is soooo important.
Realizing it has changed my life. I like to call it “My side of the street” vs. “Their side of the street.”
What someone else says could have EVERYTHING to do with what’s happening on their side and nothing to do with what’s going on on my side.

Love your writing. Thank you!

http://thatwhichreallyis.blogspot.com

Wild Goddess July 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I have come to look at criticism — unless it’s done meanly or to hurt — as a gift. Someone cares about me that much that they take time to give me feedback on how to do something better! How amazing is that? Plus it’s good to remember I don’t have to act on the criticism — that’s always my choice — but can take it under advisement, as if a sovereign taking counsel from trusted advisors.

Zac Sky July 12, 2012 at 1:47 am

Great article! This is somethign I see all the time.

Everyone has their own opinion which they form based on their past experience and knowledge. No two people ever have the exact same past so putting too much focus in what someone else thinks is counter-intuitive because that person obviously hasn’t seen and done everything that you have in life. They may judge you but they only do this from their own frame of refence and often do it to justify their own negative thoughts. What matters most is that you are happy with your actions and that you believe you are doing the best you can at any given time.

Keep up the good stuff.
Zac Sky

Muhammad Tahir July 12, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Excellent article I am sharing it. Thank you for this .

Grady Pruitt July 13, 2012 at 6:29 am

These are all some great things to remember. I really try to remember that we may not know the entire story or what that person is going through.

Also, sometimes, while it may be hard to take, there may be an element of truth to what someone may say to us that we don’t care to hear. Because we want to believe that we are perfect and aren’t responsible for whatever goes wrong, we don’t want to hear about our faults. Yet sometimes, that’s the very thing we need to hear.

We need to realize that there might be some truth, no matter how hard it is to swallow.

When it comes to meeting new people, what you said here is right on. We just need to realize that they just might be as nervous about you as you are of them.

Thanks for sharing!

Dana Lightman July 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Thank you for Tip #3: Care more about what you think about yourself. I have found that when I am centered and in alignment with my authentic self, I can apprecite feedback easily and without defensiveness because I have the insight to choose what is pertinent for me and let the rest go. But when I am feeling negative self-judgment, I criticize myself more harshly than anyone else possibly could. The key for me is to always remember each of us is unique, each of us is on his or her own path, and to stop comparing myself to others.

Julia Passamani July 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Love this post – excellent reminders – thank you! (http://lipstickandlollypops.wordpress.com)

Kumar Gauraw July 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Can’t agree more with the point #1 in this article. It’s amazing how we care too much about what others will think or would be thinking while they really don’t. In fact, most people hardly think of others until they need something from the person they are thinking about.

The whole concept in this article is about building one’s character and that is all that matters.

Legendary coach John Wooden said once, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
Awesome article, enjoyed reading! Thank you!

Rohan.B.Pereira July 15, 2012 at 6:56 am

#1 is what I found to be absolutely true. People do things the way they want to do and do not care about what you say. Which shows that the person they really care about is themselves and not you. So do we really bother about what others think of us? My answer would be NO. For THEM themselves matter a lot. For YOU make sure that YOU matter a lot.

Happiness July 16, 2012 at 7:49 am

Happiness comes to them who opens their door for small treats that life provides to them. So be happy and live longer!

Larry Hochman July 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Sometimes the simple things we learned as kids turn out to have the most truth.

Actually…nearly ALL the time that’s the case!

Great post, Henrik. Thanks!!! :)

darkman1 July 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm

This is a great saying because now that when I look back on life when I was a kid I would never thought that someone was a really bad person or just out to make people feel bad about them self:)

SS July 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm

thankyou for posting these tips and for the fantastic e mails . You have no idea how much these have helped change my life and my outlook ! Please continue the excellent work!

Kelsey @ Self Storage Investing July 18, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Great points– my mom always said that everyone else was too worried about themselves to notice what you are doing!

Brittany July 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

This is a great reminder to the idea that we shouldn’t let other people’s opinions matter too much to us. When I started getting into meditation and positivity, I was very reluctant to begin telling people for fear of what they would say/think. Meditation is an age old practice, but with all the New Age ways of healing, I was afraid people would think I was one of those “woo-woo’s”. But from seeing what meditation and other personal development practices have done for me, I’ve been able to let those fears slip away, and honestly, I can’t contain myself from talking about it when someone brings up a problem they have (that meditation can solve!).

Kat July 19, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I know that people don’t talk too much about me, but every time someone laughs around me (someone that I do not know) I have the impression that they’re laughing about me. I’m sure it rarely happens for people to laugh about me, but I still can’t help myself making scenarios.

William Veasley July 21, 2012 at 12:13 am

Henrik: Most of the time I do not care what others think about me, but I am working on changing that to all the time. Honestly, I don’t want to care what people think about me.
I really liked number one and number three. People really are more focused on themselves. I might get a good laugh in at someone, but as soon as something else happens I forget and move on.

Katinka July 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Hi Henrik, I read about you and your blog in Bohusläningen today, and after reading your recent posts I am sooo impressed and delighted. So much that I added your blog to my website as a favourite place. If you would like to use any of my photos on Flickr please feel free to do so, they are licensed under CreativeCommons. My Flickrname is KatinkaBille.
Keep up the good work. Kind regards Katinka (almost a neighbour)

Henrik Edberg July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Tack så mycket för de fina orden och erbjudandet! :)

Sylvia Gautier - Proactive Life Coaching July 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Self-care is indeed the key to happiness. What other people think about us is only an opinion. Their opinion. Based on their own life experience and beliefs. We need to acknowledge what they are saying and then think about where is the truth. It’s important to stay grounded and to develop a strong sense of self-love. Thanks for the post.

(www.sylviagautier.com)

Jessika July 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Läste om dig i Bohusläningen idag och hittade då hit, riktigt härlig blogg! =)

Henrik Edberg July 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Tack så mycket! :)

Charles A. Francis July 25, 2012 at 10:37 pm

Henrik,

Thank you for the wonderful suggestions.

Your article reminds me of something a friend of mine once told me, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” He was absolutely right. However, putting that principle into practice was another story.

One of the main reasons I cared so much about what others thought about me was because my self-esteem was very low, and I needed other people to validate my self-worth.

The way I overcame this need for validation from others was through spiritual growth—in my case, through mindfulness meditation. After meditating consistently for some time, I began to find my inner strength. In addition, I started to see my spiritual connection with others, and therefore, my ego began to dissipate. That is, I no longer had an ego that needed validation.

Another benefit from my meditation practice is that it allows me to be more open to other people. This helps improve all my relationships, which further nourishes my inner being.

Sebastian July 27, 2012 at 6:18 am

Great way of seeing things, only caring about things worth caring for, an and ignoring all negativity, converting it into a character building experience, sounds cliche, but its exactly what we need. Thanks for the great article, I found my favorite blog.

Gwin July 27, 2012 at 2:16 pm

This really good an article. I read it many times. I really believe in what you say. But in my case, there are some people who always talk negatively to me. Almost every time, everything i do is just like a wrong thing for them, i almost can’t get sleep at night when they started talking bad. When i react like do nothing, talk nothing, as if everything turns well, they act more provocatively than before. I am tired. What should i do? I need your advice
Thanks a lot Henrik

The mashup mission August 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I love your advice in every post, it’s useful and easy to follow.

A topic I’d like to include in our Canadian/Italian lifestyle blog, there are many laughs when you life between cultures, but especially when I was all by myself in a new town, not understanding a word and only being the extra of my man, ideas like yours helped me. They kind of kicked me in the a** and made me “make myself happy”.

It worked, so thank you!

Vygintas August 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm

If somebody sees you and thinks about you that means you are beautiful. There is no need other explanation. :-)

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