Most of us want to look good in the eyes of others. We want to be liked, loved, valued, and respected for the qualities we think we possess. Such as kindness, friendly and lively attitude, attractive personality, extraordinary intelligence, … The list goes on.
On a basic level, there is nothing wrong with that. What can be wrong with the desire to project a good image of ourselves? After all, it can boost our self-worth, self-confidence, and self-respect.
But the story doesn’t end there. Even as this has positive impacts, it can also cause extensive damage to our mental health. In turn, this can affect our way of functioning and set us back in our pursuit of life goals.
The trouble with giving precedence to our image is that it can take control of our life. When we start focusing on what others think of us, we base all our decisions on the opinion of others. In other words, we are constantly trying to meet the expectations of others at the expense of our own.
This article explores the topic at length and attempts to figure out how much is too much when it comes to the opinion of others. Here you will find reasons why you should stop worrying about others’ views and how to bring the focus back on yourself.
Why is this a problem?
- You adjust your lifestyle to make it look good to others.
- You spend more time thinking about what others think of you.
- You consider what others would think or say before doing anything.
- You are always trying to please or appease someone.
- You alter your behavior to fit in with the crowd.
When you are constantly feeling and thinking like this in your everyday life, it can have consequences far greater and long-lasting than immediate. But don’t worry. You are not the only one. Most people have this problem in varying degrees.
Why do we value others’ opinions about us?
If you are planning to get rid of this tendency to value others’ opinions over yours or this constant endeavor to people-please, you need to understand why you feel this way in the first place.
All of us have a self-image – who we are and who we should be. It may be based on the ideals promoted by society or borrowed from someone we admire. Whether we meet these expectations or not, we would like the world to think that we do.
Typically, most of us want to be seen as loving, friendly, compassionate, and helpful human beings who always make the right decisions and do the right things. We can never do anything wrong in the ideal image we are projecting.
This would be great if it is the truth. Unfortunately, most of us fall incredibly short of the projected image in real life. This makes us worry about what others think of us.
Not wanting to admit that we are not the perfect person, we try to bridge the gap between our ideal and reality. We project a make-believe image of ourselves that conforms to our ideals.
Again, some are not content with the image alone. They want validation from others that their image is accurate. So, they look for evidence to substantiate their claim.
How does this affect us?
This image-building exercise would be hard to maintain in the long run. We are placing ourselves in a situation so impossible and taxing that maintaining it may result in serious damage to mental health.
In our constant effort to seek validation, we tend to ignore the truth and see and hear what we want to. However, when you come across contradictory evidence, it is natural to feel upset and angry. You may not want to believe that and still want to live in your make-believe world. You may want to set things right.
All these can shift your focus from your life and goals. The ramifications of this seemingly harmless self-indulgence are far too big to ignore.
How to deal with this?
As a first step, recognize and acknowledge you have the problem. That would be half the battle won. The next step would be to get your mind to accept these.
- You don’t need approval from others.
- You don’t require praise.
- It’s okay if someone doesn’t like you.
- You are okay with criticisms.
- You don’t mind being the odd-one in a crowd.
- It’s okay to challenge or offend others.
Once you stop worrying about others, you will witness a dramatic transformation in your life. You would finally start living your life. You will start seeing others for who they actually are. Their negativity and intentions become clear to you.
9 Ways to stop worrying about others and focus on yourself
1. Shift the focus to important matters
Rethink your priorities and focus on more important matters. As your focus shifts away from mindsets and opinions to matters that demand your attention, the importance you were giving to what others think of you disappears. Your worry about others’ opinions gradually loses its hold on you.
2. Realize that others do not care
Just like your thoughts revolve around your world, others are also deeply involved in their own lives and related problems. They do not have the time or inclination to think about others. Most probably, the little things you worry so much about are not even on their radar.
3. Stop being your own worst critic
Whenever the voice in your head has a bad thing to say about you, listen to it and take it in the right spirit. It is up to you how you treat criticisms, even your own. Consider it as a constructive comment and try to improve. Do not allow it to make you feel bad. Love and appreciate yourself for the person you are.
4. Develop a positive self-image
Do understand that when others say negative things about you, it reflects on who they are rather than your inadequacies. Don’t stress over such comments and allow you to feel insecure. Give such remarks the treatment it deserves.
If need be, try to understand why the other person is being mean to you. It must be their own insecurity that is coming out as negativity. Learn to ignore such comments and get on with your life.
5. You know what is best for you
Nobody knows you better than yourself. Who you are, how your mind works, why you do certain things in certain ways, and so on. When you decide on something as the best course of action, then it is. How can others know what is best for you?
6. Develop a thick skin
There will always be people poking their noses in your affairs, telling you what to do or how wrong you are. Instead of focusing on their own lives and taking care of their problems, such people spend their time telling others how to live their lives. Treat such comments with the disdain it deserves.
If need be, develop a thick skin or a Teflon coating to deflect such negativity. Let it not seep in and harm you.
7. Stop overthinking
Remember the saying? An idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Often when you are not preoccupied with more important things, you tend to spend too much time thinking about the nasty comments others gave you.
If possible, use them as constructive criticisms. If not, don’t bother overthinking about them. Don’t lose your sleep over them. They are just not worth it.
8. Accept that others may not agree with you
Just like you have views, others too would have their own opinions. Sometimes some people may have the same viewpoints as yourself. More often than not, there will be disagreements on evaluations and attitudes. Accept the fact that agreeing on everything under the sun is not a prerequisite to getting along with each other. The best approach for you would be to agree to disagree and move on.
9. Practice mindfulness
Living in the moment can help you overcome the habit of fretting over negative comments. After all the past is past. Live in the present and look forward to the future. Embrace this and watch the worries dissipate in no time.
Remember that story from Aesop’s fables? The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey. The takeaway from the story is that it is impossible to please everyone. Whatever you do, you will end up displeasing some. And, they may let you know their displeasure in no uncertain terms.
You do not have any control over what others do and say. However, one thing you can control is how you think and feel. There are so many positive things you can think about and constructive things you can focus on. Teach yourself to ignore negativity and focus on improving your life. Your future is bound to be bright and enticing.