Full disclosure: I am writing this for myself, as well as for you. (That is, if you’re a people-pleaser at heart like I am!) Caring what others think is something I really wish I was better at. So how DO you stop caring what people think? Read on…
Here are the things I currently care about what others are thinking:
- My new Instagram account (follow me @jenn__hand!)…
...Will people think it’s dumb?
…Will anyone actually care?
…Do my friends who know/follow me think I’m weird?
…What if people get offended by my photos? (Because someone somewhere will always “not like” what I do)
- My book that is about to be published...
…What if people read it and hate it?
…What if someone thinks my personal stories are pointless and repetitive?
…What if someone thinks I can’t relate because I’ve never been significantly overweight?
I’ve also worried about…
- people noticing I gained weight after a year abroad
- how many of my friends noticed I’d put on 30 pounds during college
- who thought I looked fat in my outfits during all my insecure periods
- what past significant others have thought of my body
- who could tell I was “hiding” my body under baggy clothes
…and on the list goes.
Even as I write all of these out, I think to myself that I can’t believe I’ve spent all of this energy worrying about what others think.
Really, who cares?
But we’re human and I guess we all care to some degree 🙂
So next time you find yourself being caught up in what people think, remember:
You are not responsible for other people’s feelings (or thoughts).
I can’t remember where I learned this. I must have read it in a book or heard it on a podcast. But I absolutely love it and have reminded myself of this a gazillion times this last year.
I am not responsible for what other people think or feel.
Now that’s not to say you can’t show up and be respectful, express yourself gently and be polite and courteous.
It’s to say that when you do something that YOU want to do—that is authentic and aligned with who you are—you cannot be responsible for how it affects others.
…When I told my parents I was quitting my “stable” job and moving to Ecuador (because I really needed space and time away), I was not responsible for their disappointment, frustration and irritation.
…When I express my true needs and wants to my husband (My love language is Words of Affirmation, so what I always want is that!), I am not responsible for him thinking that it’s overkill and why can’t I just accept him spending 2 hours trying to hook up the Steelers game for me shows love?
…The times I’ve gained weight in my life (and there’s been a million cycles between gaining/losing), I am not responsible for others judging my appearance or thinking critical thoughts.
At the end of the day, we just cannot micromanage what others think and feel about us. And isn’t there some relief in knowing we can just take that off our to-do list?!
“It’s better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not” (Andre Gide)
Although I don’t like the word “hated” in this quote, I love it’s message.
I spent probably 23 years of my life being someone I was not. And it was deeply painful to my soul.
People may have liked me, society may have considered me “normal”, friends may have thought I was agreeable…but deep down, I wasn’t being true to myself.
So who cares if people liked me? I wasn’t actually ME.
As I began to be more of who I really was on the inside (and that included having tough conversations, expressing difficult emotions, making life decisions that were considered radical, saying “no” to things that didn’t resonate with me anymore), people may have thought differently about me.
But the payoff was that I liked me more.
It is so hard to express disagreement with someone, to rock the boat, and to potentially go against the grain (which may upset the people we love!), but it is worth it every time.
Because then we are showing up in the world as US, not as a people-pleaser version of ourselves.
The worst case scenario is that what you’re thinking the person is thinking IS reality.
When I remember to try this tactic, it works wonders to help me let go of what others think.
This is a sort of “tough love” tactic, but sometimes this is what I really need!
So let’s play worst case scenario…
Your Aunt Jane or Cousin Stephanie sees you over the holidays and thinks you’re heavier than when she last saw you.
Someone sees the outfit you put together and thinks you shouldn’t be wearing that at “that size”.
A friend goes to the beach with you and thinks “man she shouldn’t’ be wearing that bathing suit.”
What happens if these people DO think these things?!
- You never actually know what people are thinking (99.9% of the time people don’t actually say what they think if it’s mean)
- So what? The thoughts people think and judgements people have are on THEM, not you.
What something thinks is always a reflection of THEIR stuff.
It can be a good reality check with ourselves to assess what would happen if something actually did think the thing we THINK they are thinking (whew, that’s a tongue twister!). They’ll think the thought, get over it and move on.
So when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. And you end up being dishonest with what YOU want and know is true for you.
This is something I continue to work on, so if you’re along for the ride, let me know 🙂 I’d love to hear how YOU let go of caring what others think!