How do you stop caring so much about what others think of you? Don’t start!
Do you care so much about what others think of you that you repress or sideline what you would really like to be or do? It seems strange when put baldly like that, but that is what most of us do. We stop ourselves from doing or being something because we let our minds run wild with the judgements and criticism we will receive if we do or be that thing. From learning a musical instrument to moving to another country to skipping down the street in your business suit – how many choices have you squelched because you cared so much about what other people thought?
First, dear reader, most people aren’t paying that much attention. Secondly, what we imagine may be so far from the truth that we’re stopping ourselves for nothing.
I am an Access Consciousness facilitator and let me just say – for a number of years, I assumed everyone would judge me and my decision for being too weird, so I kept my work on the down low. As soon as I decided ‘to go for it,’ the people I assumed would have the biggest problems and judgements about my line of work were actually the ones most interested in this wacky work.
Think of something you’ve always wanted to do but you let the fear of others’ judgements and criticism derail you. Now, my recommendation is to ask, what is the worst that could happen? Would you die? Would you maybe lose a friend or two (the ones that criticize everything you do anyway)? Now, close your eyes and imagine choosing that ‘something you’ve always wanted to do’ and think of the fun you could have if you let go of those worries? Indulge yourself in that imagining for a few hours or days. If it is really inspiring and inviting to you, who cares what others think? Are you living your life, or do you just have a life?
Do you realize that other people’s judgments can become your own? I have a friend who was told by a ballet teacher when she was only 6 years old that she was clumsy, had no gracefulness or talent. In turn, my friend told others for the next 40 years how clumsy she is. She didn’t allow herself to take dance lessons for 40 years! That is 40 years of joy and fun denied because of one person’s judgement. She is never going to be on the stage at Covent Garden, but she loves dancing now! What pleasure are you denying yourself because you believe the criticism of others? Truly, who cares?
What a shame that people hide things about themselves because they are worried about reactions and judgements. One example of this is sexuality. I chose to ‘come out’ on CBC (Canadian radio and TV station) at the age of 15. At the time I was volunteering at an AIDS hospice in Regina, Canada, where I grew up. CBC had a show called Utopia Café and came to interview people about the emotional risks of coming out as gay, and I volunteered, shaking slightly in my boots. And the freedom that I felt, and that was created from being willing to say, ‘who cares?’ and go for it, has colored my life to this day. I learned that day to be true to me and not worry about what people thought of me.
I have learned over the years to be true to myself and not worry about what other people think of me. Because the truth of it is, it winds up hurting me in the long run, not them. I am the one missing out by carrying the weight of someone else’s words around with me – I can tell you the person who passed the judgement on me isn’t being affected.
So, how do you stop caring so much about what others think of you? As Bob Newhart said in his psychiatrist character, “just stop it!” We do get to choose whether we are influenced by unspoken and often imagined judgements, or whether we grab our courage and choose what fulfills and expands us and makes us happy. We are told that every person is unique – why not celebrate and exploit that rather than trying to fit in and not receive any judgement? Then no one can control you except you. So – would you be willing to say, ‘who cares’ sometime soon?