How to stop worrying about what people think of you.
￼￼Do you have dreams, goals and ambitions that you hold back with because of the fear of what others might think if you did pursue them?
Are you struggling to be authentic, speak your mind, act or even dress the way you want because of the fear that others might criticise you, get upset or even laugh at you?
In this article, I want to help you start overcoming this paralysing fear so you can be more free, more authentic, and happier.
First of all, everyone cares about what other people think of them to some degree. That’s normal.
We’ve evolved living in an interdependent society so the fear of being rejected is hardwired in us because for our ancestors being rejected would mean almost certain death.
But that’s really not the case anymore.
So why do we still worry what people think of us?
It’s because we want to be liked, we want to belong.
That’s fine, nothing wrong with it, unless it’s stopping you from being yourself, growing and following your passions.
Below are a few exercises that will help you start understanding and overcoming this fear.
1. Where did your worrying come from?
Very often we can trace it back to our upbringing.
We’ve either learnt it from our parents or other people close to us because this is the way they were or that’s the way they taught us to be.
“Don’t be noisy, don’t speak up OR people will think you’re naughty, bad, etc”
Or, it may be the opposite where we’ve been exposed to people being extremely self-centered or narcissistic and we’ve seen the impact of that and consciously or subconsciously decided that we never want to be that way and that we’ll be much more considered and conscientious.
The fear of what people think of us can also be triggered by an embarrassing event which can leave a lasting impact.
Either way, there are some fears that are encouraging you to overvalue what others think of you.
Have a think about when this started and whether the fears are real or still relevant. Your fears may be decades out of date or totally unrealistic.
2. Figure out who you truly are
The biggest danger of worrying about what people think of you is that it makes you act and be in the way others approve of, which is unlikely the way you personally want to be.
Even worse, it most likely makes you feel like who you naturally are is wrong, because if it wasn’t, why would you hide it?
So then, going through a loop of validation for being a bit less authentic and a bit more the way others want us to be, very often, after a few years of this, people realise they don’t even know who the hell they are anymore, what they stand for and believe in.
They lost themselves in the process.
We need a compass and guidelines for our behaviour, and if our own is not clear and strong enough, we adopt one from others in form of what they think is right because something is better than nothing.
So spend time exploring and clarifying what your values are, what you stand for. Design who you want to become and then live up to that image a little bit more every day.
It’s so much easier to care less of what people think of you when you’re clear on who you are, what you stand for and you live in alignment with it.
When you follow what you believe in and what you know is right, then you can give yourself the validation and approval you need, you’re happy with who you are, that’s the best feeling.
3. Accept it
Accept the fact that you won’t be liked and approved of by everyone.
No matter which way you are in life, there will always be someone who won’t like it. And that’s ok.
You cannot win everyone over.
The reality is, that if you’re not experiencing any resistance in life, if there aren’t at least a few people who disagree with you, then you’re probably way too vanilla, not standing up strongly for anything.
Avoiding pushback by being too nice (where it seems like everyone likes you….but not really) will make you thin-skinned and even the idea of disapproval will trigger a freakout.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.
Grow a thicker skin.
4. Stop making it about yourself
We sometimes worry about what others think of us in situations where it’s not even about us that much, but rather about a specific performance, such as sales calls.
Making it about ourselves just puts us under additional pressure.
When I started running workshop and seminars, I was really nervous because I worried that people will not like me, that they’d think I was a boring speaker etc. Then I asked myself “Why am I running my seminars?”
The answer was: To share my knowledge and to help people.
As soon as I focused on that, the real purpose of the seminar, rather than looking good and being an impressive speaker, my worry was mostly gone and I not only became a much better speaker, but people liked my talks even more.
You’ll worry way less about what people think of you if you don’t try to impress them in the first place.
This may be uncomfortable to hear, but that’s how it is.
So, focus on understanding who you are and why you worry so much about the opinions of others. Do some soul searching into where it came from and ask yourself whether the fears are still relevant.
Get clear on your values, what you stand for, and who you are or want to be.
Live up to that image.
Become the person you would be proud of even if no one agrees with you.
What you’ll find that this way people will like you even more.
If you need the support of a life coach to help you with making a great first impression or with any other areas of your personal development, you’re always welcome to contact me and let’s find out if we’d be the right match.
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In this initial Discovery Session, we’ll discuss what your goals are, changes you want to make, what’s standing in the way, and how I could help you with it. It’s time for us to determine if we’re the right match. If so, we can discuss the next steps. There’s no hard-sell.