Do you care what other people think about you?
I think we all do, to different extents.
And the more we care, the worse off we are for it.
But most of us are severely underachieving in life because we’re worried about other people’s opinions. Instead of trying to live our own lives, we become self-conscious and worry more about fitting in and looking good. We all want to find our own version of greatness and fulfillment — we want to be true to ourselves — but a lot of us are held back by the opinions of others.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to stop caring what other people think so you can stop worrying about fitting in and start living the life you personally want to live.
8 Steps to not caring about what other people think
1) Develop the self-confidence to accept who you are
We’re not worried so much about what people think of us as we are about how we measure up to what we think they think we should be like. This is how you get caught up trying to fit in rather than being your authentic self.
For most of my teenage years and my twenties, I was paralyzed by fear of what other people thought about me.
One of the big reasons I drank so much and watched football so much is because I wanted to fit in. I was a regular at the bar with all the other regular people, and I could talk football stats for days. This part of my life was fun but it didn’t give me purpose or make me happy. It was a mask so I didn’t have to deal with the possibility of social isolation.
At that point in my life, I would have rather be accepted for what I wasn’t than be rejected for who I was. When you’re comfortable with who you are, you develop a “take it or leave it” attitude with people. The best way to do this is embrace the hobbies, interests, and lifestyle that you enjoy and build a social life around that. Most people do the exact opposite–they build a life based on the people around them.
This puts tremendous pressure on them to think, act, and behave in a certain way that may not be in the best interest of their authentic self developing. This largely because fear something meaningless: judgement from other people.
2) What other people think of me is none of my business
This is an idea I live by.
Whether someone hates me or loves me, it’s none of my business. This attitude accomplishes two crucial things when it comes to not worrying about what other people think of how I live life:
First, it keeps me from investing energy into trying impress people or stand out to them. When I’m not trying to change someone’s mind about me, then I can behave in a manner this is authentic and will ultimately make me happier.
Secondly, it keeps me focused on the process of my actions and not distracted chasing the outcome. One of the things I talked about in my book Not Caring What Other People Think Is A Super Power was that being concerned about what other people think makes it difficult for you do what you think is best for your own life.
People ruin their physical, emotional, and mental health by trying to win the approval of people who realistically aren’t thinking about them at all. Most people don’t care about you. This might be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s also extremely liberating because it frees you to live your life free of worrying about something you can’t control–other people’s opinions.
3) Stop worrying about being “normal” and fitting in
Once upon a time, I wanted to fit in and be “normal” like everyone else. The problem with being normal is that people don’t stand out, which is also why they never make a notable impression. I didn’t realize this because I cared too much what other people thought.
If you’re like 99% of the people reading this article, you’ve struggled with wanting to fit in. You’ve erroneously tried to define your self-worth by how well people accept you. This is no good because even if you succeed, you know that it’s not what you really want.
There’s a part of you that wants to break free. To muster up the internal confidence to break free from the self-imposed prison of fitting in.
The other part — the stronger part — wants to keep you a prisoner. Who cares about freedom? It’s safer inside your little cell. At least you don’t have to worry if people think highly of you or not because as long as you stay in the comfort zone of seeking approval.
Of course, this is patently false.
If you want to live a fulfilling life that you can look back on without any major regrets, you have to get out of your comfort zone and start living. You have to break out of this mental prison.
The best way to break out of this mental prison is to follow a purpose that is unique and important to you. When you live life this way, on your own terms, you’ll find that people want to conform to your standards rather than try to get you to fit in with theirs.
4) Be afraid of wasting your time
You don’t have a lot of time on this planet. Best case scenario, you’ll in the low 100’s and even if you do, you won’t have all of my faculties and abilities in your later years. Also worth remember is that if you’re like most people, you won’t have financial freedom until you’re well into 20’s or 30’s.
That should terrify you into not wasting any time modifying your life based on the opinions of people who won’t add anything to your life but stress.
Of course, this fear is a good thing:
This should make you want to focus all of your time and energy on what matters. Other people’s opinions of your life don’t matter. If someone doesn’t pay you, lay you, or have the power to put you behind bars, then it doesn’t matter what they think. What you have to do is something meaningful with your short time on this planet.
I can’t tell you exactly what to do, but I know that if you stick to the following 4 ideas for how you live, you won’t care what other people think:
- Living a disciplined and healthy life
- Doing fulfilling and meaningful work
- Building relationships with people you actually like
- Acting based on your core values and beliefs
If you keep in mind that one day you’ll die and you live true to these principles, it’s impossible to get caught up thoughts from others that don’t concern you.
5) Remember that no one really cares about you
Are you emotionally invested in making sure your neighbor, coworker, or the complete stranger standing in line at the grocery store are making good life choices? Do you worry that they’re not doing what’s best for them?
Conversely, no one gives a shit about you either. They’re all too busy minding their own business (probably worrying about what you think about them) to care. This means that they don’t have much energy to worry about you. This fact alone should relieve your anxiety about the opinions of other people.
Even if you think people are judging your life on social media, they’re far more concerned with the image they present to everyone else.
When you care about what other people think, you’re effectively their slave. Why should you give them control of your life? Why are you doing things for their sake?
People pleasers never please anyone–especially the people that they’re trying to please. You only have this one life, why give it away to someone who doesn’t care about it nearly as much as you do? They already have a life.
6) Humble yourself and kill your ego
One of the greatest benefits of me boxing is that I realized that the ego has an intense desire to believe that other people are worried about to the point where it will manufacture attention when there is none. There are many positives to an ego, but this is not one of them.
Your ego will not only make you imagine that people are thinking about you, you’ll create scenarios where people have to think about you so you’re back in a familiar space of carrying about what people think.
This reminds me of a guy who once came into my boxing gym.
He wasn’t a bad fighter. In fact, he won his first 8 amateur bouts. On his 9th bout, he was beaten soundly and embarrassingly. This happens to all fighters — especially in the amateur levels where you’re supposed to learn by losing — but he decided that it was too much.
He invited a bunch of girls to come see him fight. I remember him talking to me before the fight, joking about how he would have to sneak out because these different girls didn’t know each other. I don’t think the girls affected his performance, but losing in front of them ruined his ego.
Unfortunately, he never returned to the boxing because he couldn’t deal with this new uncomfortable experience. He created a situation for his ego to have the pressure of attention on it, coupled with the illusion of of them caring.
While him losing the fight made a big difference in his deciding to never fight again, despite the talent he displayed, having is ego murdered in front of other people made it impossible. He pain of losing hurts more because he believes that other people actually care if wins or loses.
The physical blows heal more quickly than the ego, but one thing that slows down the process is caring what other people think.They may feel bad for you or mock you for a moment, but most people are more concerned with their own problems than your life. They may feel bad for you or mock you for a moment, but most people are more concerned with their own problems than your life.
7) Focus on what you can control
There is tremendous danger in trying to build your self-esteem based on external perspectives. If your self image is built on the opinions of people who couldn’t care less for you, then it will quickly dissolve when you don’t get any attention, good or bad.
I know what that’s like to be held in high esteem by everyone then suddenly find myself on the receiving end of their negative opinions. I’ve been crushed in front of millions in a boxing match. Before that loss, everyone was enamored. Afterwards, I found who really cared and who just wanted a distraction from their own thoughts.
Using my good friend from the last example.
The day after his loss, he called the trainer and told him that boxing wasn’t for him. This kid may have had a promising future. He was undefeated and just went up against someone with more experience. But he was too worried about what people thought of him after the loss to continue with his training.
He didn’t care about the thing in itself. I just enjoyed the outcome of fighting. He didn’t want to work on the invisible process. He only wanted to be liked and adored. He cared too much what other people thought about him.
You have to stop caring what people think so that you can stop focusing on external outcomes like status and social validation. Those things are outside your circle of control, and they don’t lay the foundation for an excellent life full of real achievement.
Real achievement and progress it the result of falling in love with the parts of your life that aren’t on public display. When you build your confidence on this internal foundation, you’ll not only care less what the external world thinks but you’ll have more success in it.
8) Put it all into practice
All of this theory is good, but you need to find ways to put this into practice so you can experience the freedom of not caring what people think.
I know it’s scary to live different, but as long as it doesn’t threaten your physical well-being anything that forces you out of your comfort zone is a win. Start out small, by keeping the stakes low.
For example, It could be something as simple as wearing two different colored socks to work.
Before you go outside, write down the worst thing you think could happen. Is it that someone’s gonna point and laugh at you? That you’re gonna get fired? Whatever it is, write it down. When you come back from work, write down what actually happened. Then you will see just how exaggerated and unfounded your fears were and hopefully, muster up enough courage to do something a little ballsier.
Recap of the 8 steps to stop caring about what other people think
- Develop the self-confidence to accept who you are
- Remember what other people think of you is none of your business
- Stop trying to fit in and be “normal”
- Be afraid of wasting your time
- Don’t forget that no one really cares about you anyway
- Humble yourself and kill your ego
- Focus on what you can control
- Put it all in practice
Once you’ve won enough small battles, you’ll wake up one day to realize you’ve won the whole war. In the process, you’ll have become a freer, better person.