5 Ways To Stop Worrying About What Others Think of You

Let's face it. We all desire to be liked. To belong. To be appreciated. To be part of a team. Humans are social. It's innate in our nature to want to be accepted.

In the words of Dr. Mara Klemich — co-author of Above the Line: Living and Leading with Heart — having approval triggers all the happy hormones in the brain, while rejection activates many of the same brain regions involved in physical pain. This certainly helps explain why disapproval hurts us emotionally, and why disapproval runs deep."

The problem lies when we become addicted to the need for approval or when we worry too much about what other people think of us that we give them power over our lives. It's like attaching invisible strings into the neural pathways of our brains, then give its control to others as in a marionette.

We morphed into people-pleasers. Hide our true selves lest everyone finds out who we really were. Conform to the norm. And bury our dreams for fear of embarrassment, failure, or rejection.

I'm one myself. I constantly worry about what others think of me that I'm paralyzed by fear whenever I put something out for the world to see like this blog post, or a social media post, etc.

I should just settle, someone else can do it better.  This alert message pops up on my consciousness, warning me of the risks I'm taking, preventing me from suffering harm.

But if you want to go somewhere new, to become more than who you used to be, eventually you had to face this seeming unassailable mountain. That's why I'm writing this post. My desire is to win over it. And I'm not going there alone. I want to bring you along this journey with me.

If you are going through the same, crippled by other people's opinions of you. Then this post is tailor-made just for you. Here are the ways on How to stop worrying about what others think of you?

5 Ways To Stop Worrying About What Others Think of You

1. Shift the Spotlight

I've come across this question years before, "Who do you think is the most important person in the world?"

You'd probably answer the president or some who's who. Actually, if we're just being honest, you are the most important person in the world to you. That's why I emboldened the words 'do you think' in the question above, it asks who according to you. It's a tricky one.

You think of you 80% of the time, if not 100% of the time.

If you're thinking of you all the time, that means others are preoccupied thinking of themselves too. Try it, take inventory of your thought-life, and ask yourself how many hours in a day do you think of someone else.

Hmm... Let me guess. For a few seconds. The longest will probably last for minutes but never for hours on hour's end.

No, I'm not talking about love interests or close-knit family members but outsiders. Because in truth, we don't care much about our family or spouse's opinions of us. They'll readily accept us for who you truly are.

Here's quote from You are Awesome by Neil Pasricha,

Spotlight effect - because we are the centers of our own worlds, we believe we’re the center of everyone else’s world, too. Shift the spotlight!

No one really cares that much about what you’re doing. People are highly self-absorbed. We believe there’s a spotlight on us, but there isn’t.

Shift where? To where you have control of.

These are some strategies I use to shift my focus: read a book, listen to an audible or a sermon, or keep my mind preoccupied with good thoughts.

2. Remove Yourself Out of Introspection

Let me ask you this. When you see others forging their way ahead to develop their gifts or realize their dreams, do you think negatively of them? No, not at all! In fact, it's the opposite. You admire their guts, their grit, their tenacity, their courage.

When I hear one of my friends accomplished this or that, I don't see them in a bad light. I respect them and feel motivated to do the same.

Or when I see someone having the boldness to do something I know I can't (maybe not yet), I admire them, wishing I could do the same.

Here's a scenario. We worry too much about what other people might say when we spill food on our clothing. Turn that situation around. What if it's not you but someone else? Chances are you'd look and don't mind about it much. Or you'd probably offer a tissue or a helping hand if you happen to be near.

Yes, there are instances when it's really embarrassing. But hey, they don't last long. Over and over I've seen it in the news. People could be talking about this high-profile's failings for days or weeks end but when something new comes along, the ruckus abruptly dies down, buried to a forgotten land.

This way has saved me many times. Remove yourself out of introspection. Evaluate how you see others from your point of view, then you'll realize others don't really think much of you. Remember #1.

Another way of removing yourself out of your head is by putting others before you. Serve them. Help them make their lives better or day brighter. Send a smile. A compliment. Or in whatever capacity you are able to give yourself making someone's day.

3. Judge Not, So You Won't be Judge

Are you overly critical and judgemental over others? Guess what, you only reap what you sow.

I use to be that way. Yes, I'm one of those people who can't handle others rising above the figmental pyramid I've erected inside my head. You could say, I used to be in the group with the negative people. I thought life, in general, is like school; everyone is rank base on performance. Somehow I've brought that hierarchical system with me after university.

I pride myself as someone above average. So when another, who is not quite good academically, rises above the fictitious ladder I've crafted, surpassing my fabricated status, my mind goes ballistic. I couldn't handle it.

Obviously, the problem is me, not them. After I received Christ in my heart, I laid this issue at the foot of the cross informing Him of my desire to change. And this is what I got,

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
~ James 5:16

It's embarrassing but I'm over it now. I'm baring this heart issue to let you know I've overcome. When the issue pops up again, I know what to do. ;)

If you're struggling in this area, divulge this heart issue to someone you trust or in a support group. Get it out of your system so you can be free.

4. You Will Never Please Everybody. Do what you have to anyway!

Cliche, I know, but true. If God Himself cannot please everyone, what makes you think you can?

If someone hates your guts, they will hate you no matter what you do, or who you become. The problem has more to do with them, their life experiences, and what they know, than you or your personhood.

Here's a quote I love from David J. Pollay,

Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.

People are going through things we don't know about, so when they hurt you, don't take it to heart. Remember my story in #3?

Some of us have gone through things that hurt deeply. No, I'm not making light of those. But you can't allow that person to have power over you; to perpetuate the hurt long after it's over. Forgive. Seventy times seven. Release them.

Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.
~Marianne Williamson

5. Know Who You Are When No One is Looking

My father died 10 days before my 7th birthday; my mother is out from work providing for our family of three. With regards to our basic exigencies: food, shelter, decent clothing, they are met. Not luxuriously but enough to weather our family's financial troubles.

But with regards to my inner needs: emotional, mental, spiritual, I had to figure it out on my own.

I grew up plagued with insecurities. I kept looking for my worth in accomplishments, so people will notice me. And in relationships, so someone will give their attention to me.

Because I don't know who I am, someone could just come in and tell me who I should be. I was someone else's slave depending on who I want to please that season.

I worry about how they'll think of me that I was no longer authentic. I donned this facade, a false sense of self, hiding who I really am, scared of what others think. In turn, I was unhappy.

Thus, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery, asking the hard questions, and seeking answers. Who am I apart from others, my spouse, my children, my parents? You need to know your worth, your value, your truth, what you stand for, so you don't fall for anything people hurl your way.

I haven't arrived yet, I'm still on that journey. Seeking, finding, searching, and sharing what I've found out.

If you are going through the same, why don't you practice the 5 ways To Stop Worrying What Others Think of You and see if it helps.

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