I cannot think of anything more psychologically and mentally debilitating than always being overly concerned about what other people think of you. Often referred to as being "in people bondage", it's basically a condition where you live in a constant state of uneasiness due to your thoughts about how other people perceive you. You worry about how you look, how you sound, how you walk, what you say, on and on, for the sake of making sure that everyone likes you or approves of you. I have found this to be a colossal waste of time, and I wanted to share some of the tips (and the mindset) that I have adopted to be able to stop worrying about what people think of me, and I believe that these tips will be helpful to you as well.
Realize that nobody is perfect. If you're sitting there on pins and needles trying to make sure that everyone approves of you, you have to ask yourself what kind of standard you are supposed to be living up to. Is it absolute perfection, or flawlessness? If so, you and everyone else on the planet are already in trouble. Nobody is perfect. The people that you are concerned about impressing, are they flawless? Do they have their lives all together? I'm 99.9999% positive that they don't have it all together, even if they appear to be that way. They may not have the same shortcomings or problems that you have, but rest assured they do have shortcomings. So keep that in mind, and realize that the very people you're trying to be perfect in front of have imperfections themselves.
Recognize that what others think of you is really none of your business. I know that may sound funny at first, but it's very true. They're going to think what they're going to think, even if they may present themselves a different way externally. So even if you think that you can gauge what's going on in their heads, realize that at the end of they day, it's still really anybody's guess. It's THEIR business what they're thinking, not yours. So any time you're tempted to think "I wonder what they're thinking about me?", follow that thought up immediately with this one-"Ahhh, it doesn't matter...that's none of my business anyway."
Realize that whatever they're thinking about you is totally out of your control. The truth of the matter is that you CAN NOT control anyone's opinion, even if you try to manipulate your own actions or behavior to hopefully elicit a certain response from them. If you change the things that you really want to say to something you think they would like for you to say, or if you laugh at jokes that you really don't think are funny, or if you suppress or alter your behavior to fit what you believe they will accept, these are all signs that you're trying to control their reactions toward you and their thoughts about you. Again, all of this is futile. They're going to think however they're going to think, and that is totally out of your control.
Finally, understand that much of your concern about what others think of you is really rooted in the way you think about yourself. Many times we are our own worst enemies, and we judge and condemn ourselves before anyone else even gets the chance to do it. So if there's an area of your life where you feel insecure or lack a good sense of self-worth, you will automatically assume that others perceive those same flaws in you, so it magnifies the feeling of suspicion you have that they're thinking negative things about you. Basically, you have already "put yourself on trial" and convicted yourself before anyone else even gets a chance to do it. Go easy on yourself...refer back to Step 1: Nobody is perfect. Life is too short for you to waste your mental and emotional energy on those things.
Things You Will Need
- Some guts...that's really about it.
- It takes practice to stop bad thought habits. Be patient with yourself.
- Stay alert...the best way I can describe it is to "think about what you're thinking about". Recognize bad thought patterns and do your best to replace them with positive thoughts about yourself.
- You will have to face up to a lot of fear, especially when you have lived most of your life as an insecure person. Be ready for the negative self-talk to really "rear it's ugly head". You'll do okay, though, if you just see it for what it is and not accept it at face value.