How to stop caring what people think, is something that I’ve tried to figure out my entire life.
Growing up, I’d always fantasize about some day in the future when I bought/became/accomplished/dated x, y & z and THEN, I’d finally get to feel great about myself with no more f*cks to give about what anyone thought.
But like all fantasies, It was kept alive through my belief that the actualization of it was dependent upon the superficial.
It’s so much easier to become engrossed in a fantasy instead of the hard work it takes to get there.
Deep down, I knew it would never happen. There’s no way I could ever NOT want to know, worry about or obsess over what other people thought of me.
My need for others to give me an identity soon outweighed the belief that I could ever do so for myself.
It got so bad that surrender was the only option. So, I accepted that this was who I was: a well-intended doormat; an emotionally lost, eternally-paranoid-and-embarrassed, insecure, never-good-enough-for-anyone, FAILURE. A failure that had acquiesced to living a life on the sidelines of other people’s actions.
(& the relationsh*ts I attracted always reflected and solidified this belief system)
Everything that I did was built off the question of “what will they think?”
It was exhausting.
I cared WAY too much to believe that I could ever get to a place of not caring at ALL.
Up until a few years ago, this was my life:
- Not making a move. My life had become the never ending mannequin challenge. I actually experienced this with launching Post Male Syndrome. Most everyone that I knew looked at me like I had 7 eyeballs and 2 heads when I explained what I wanted to do… and then the name (PMS??), they didn’t get it at all. So, what did I do? I froze. I obsessed over the color scheme instead of the content. I wasted time and sat on an idea – MY idea – that the fear of judgement disallowed the execution of for far too long.
- Approval addiction. Nothing mattered unless I had approval of the people that I pedestaled and of course, the disapproval/doubt of the “haters,” that I obviously had to prove wrong.
- Obsessing (to the point of crippling social anxiety, health problems, lying & fearfulness that turned into paranoia), about what other people thought of me, my life, my decisions, my looks, my education, what I did/didn’t do, etc. I remember being MORTIFIED when my grandparents would pick me up from Kindergarten and elementary school (they’d get out of the car and wait outside of my classroom). My grandparents were not born in this country. Their English is not the best and although they are all 4 still alive today, I can’t tell you what I’d give to be able to walk with them now in the way I tried so hard to avoid back then. The earliest memories that I have from school aren’t these carefree times with friends, just being a kid. My earliest memories are of doing everything in my power to be an unnoticed follower – to avoid judgement, negative opinions and the subsequent humiliation and bullying. The truth is, no one has ever humiliated, bullied or thought lower of me, more than I have humiliated, bullied and thought of myself. I remember being so scared of getting made fun of in school that I’d starve myself. Yup, I’d throw away my favorite Persian dish that my Mom made me and buy a 50 cent cookie, instead of run the risk of getting made fun of for not having the same sandwich and chips as everyone else. Today, I’d do anything just to know that my Mom had the everyday strength to cook that very meal.
- Desperation for other people to fill me in on myself.
- Jealousy. This was beyond going on an Instagram binge and dealing with a bit of a jealousy hangover. This was on a whole new level. I was so jealous of people that had zero sh*ts to give when it came to the opinions of others, I’d do everything that I could to attain the material possessions that they had. Why? I’d feel this intense (but ultimately very short lived), pseudo strength by having the same item as someone that had the one thing money couldn’t buy: immunity to the opinions of others.
Today, I’m one of those people who I thought I could never be.
I’m currently writing a blog post under a photo of an outfit I’ve worn many times before. I still don’t have a photographer, I still don’t own a camera and I still take every single photo on my iPhone. I know that I’m doing the best I can right now, so I really don’t care.
Why haven’t I gotten around to stepping it up?
Because I know that perception will always be based on perception and connection will always be based on substance & meaning.
I’m more concerned with connecting and creating meaning than I am playing Inspector Gadget and SEARCHING for meaning in the opinions of others.
It’s not that I don’t care about other people, it’s that I don’t care to make the opinions that they’re totally entitled to, any of my business.
Here’s how to stop caring what people think & start living your life…
If you want to know how to stop caring what people think, keep these 3 rules in mind:
How to stop caring what people think – Rule #1: Make it all about THEM, not you.
What people think of you (and how they choose to act on those thoughts), is a window into their pain, dysfunction and lack of self esteem – NOT a mirror of yours. Remember: people aren’t going to have all of these negative opinions about you (and act on them by engaging in gossip, etc.), because they truly believe that this is exactly who you are. They’re going to do this because it’s the easiest way to cope with their own insecurities, shortcomings and failures. It’s the cheapest and most readily assessable way for them to deal with who they are.
Don’t forget: people are thinking about themselves far more than they have ever or will ever think about you. They could spend every minute of everyday dedicated to thinking about, obsessing over and hating on you and I assure you, it still would have nothing to do with you. People live their lives only from one perspective: their own. If you want to know how to stop caring what people think, remember this: there’s no need to get so invested in the perspective of others. Does the elephant think that’s it’s awful because mice run away from it? No, it knows that it’s many times bigger than the mouse and thus understands that the mouse is just behaving from the perspective in which it operates.
How to stop caring what people think – Rule #2: Consistently SERVE, so that you won’t consistently WONDER.
How to stop caring what people think? Get out of your “what-will-they-think-of-me” head by using your fears to your advantage. If you’re truly scared of being labeled as x,y & z, stop obsessing, stop wondering and start BECOMING the opposite of those labels through your consistent actions. The fastest way out of the prison of giving too many f*cks, is by operating from a place of service. As long as you’re serving, you’re not engrossed in making everyone’s opinions all about you. By striving to be the adult that you needed when you were younger, you’re operating from a place of mindful servitude; you’re outside of your self obsession. And you could say, “but Natasha, I’m not self obsessed! I can’t stop thinking about other people and what they think of me.” My answer: “Yes, but you’re thinking about them through the filter of not feeling like YOU are enough. If you felt like you were enough, you wouldn’t have anything to wonder about.” If you consistently keep your word and your boundaries in tact, know what you will and wont tolerate, are kind and have empathy, you’ll no longer worry so much about what everyone thinks of you. Why? You’ll have the security of consistent HABIT behind you, reminding and solidifying who you truly are.
And when YOU know, does it really matter who doesn’t?
How to stop caring what people think – Rule #3: No one can activate an alarm that you’ve deactivated.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – If I came up to you and told you that you had an ugly head of green hair, you wouldn’t be freaking out and running to the nearest mirror to make sure that your hair wasn’t green. You’d think I was nuts. However, if there was a part of you that thought maybe, just maybe you had ONE strand of green hair, I guarantee you’d still run to the nearest mirror.
NO ONE can activate what isn’t there.
Make the decision to work on DEACTIVATING your alarms instead of ACTIVATING your insecurities by tattooing the access code on your forehead for everyone to see.
It’s none of your business if other people think that they can activate your alarm. If you’ve truly deactivated it, who cares? Let them try, let them have their moment and let them believe what they want while you ride off on your white horse into the land of zero f*cks.
I’ll be waiting for you 🙂
My Mom came up from San Diego (!!!) and is staying with me for a 3 days. I’m having a minor oral surgery on Monday night and she wanted to be there. I won’t be able to talk for a few days, so I’m looking forward to doing a lot of writing from bed and having a little silent retreat.
On that note, we are off to enjoy this beautiful day!
Love you all x Natasha