How top stop caring about what others think

I used to suffer from caring way too much about what people thought of me when I worked in financial services. If I was speaking in a meeting, I worried about what people thought about what I was saying. If I was standing up doing a presentation, I worried about how I was coming across. If I was asking a question of someone, I worried about upsetting them even if my question was valid and legitimate. I worried about what I said, how I said it, what I wore, how I came across and everything in between. You name it, I worried about it and what others might think about me as a result.

As human beings we all tend to focus just a bit too much on what people think about us bit if you care to the point that it affects the actions you take, your mental health and the quality of your life then you are most likely a people pleaser. You aren’t alone. All of us suffer with the disease to please to a greater or lesser degree.

Always having to contort and conform emotionally exhausts you. It’s disempowering, self-esteem draining, and it prevents you from realising your full potential. Amongst other things, this leads to:

  • Self-sabotage
  • Perfectionism
  • Avoidance
  • Denial
  • Delusion
  • Bad relational luck
  • Lack of career success

The problem with people pleasing is that it is like being on a tiny boat in the middle of a rough sea being tossed to and fro on the whims of the waves. You are at the mercy of everything around you with no anchor of your own to stabilise you and no true north to guide you back to shore. You have no ability to self-validate and no way to self-direct.

People pleasing also means that everyone else’s opinion, view or value is more important than your own. You pedestal everyone around you. You are so influenced by their opinion it outweighs your own. You are so busy supporting them, you don’t support yourself. When others are pedestalled, your only option is to look up to them. You are no longer on an even relational ground.

So how do you stop caring about what other people think?

  • Get some boundaries

Boundaries are critical to ensure we are not at the mercy of others. If you have no boundaries, you have never worked out what is truly important to you. You haven’t worked out what you will and will not tolerate. If you don’t know what you will or won’t tolerate, you don’t know how to say no to others. When you start saying no to others you stop dancing to their tune, and you dance to your own.

  • Human beings are naturally self-obsessed

Everyone is thinking about themselves and how they come across way more than they are obsessing over you, your decisions, your actions and your life.

“Two traps that you need to avoid: 1) Caring what they think. 2) Thinking that they care.” – Anonymous.

  • Stop the negative self-talk.

Enough with the ‘I’m not enough’ thinking. It is very easy to get into the habit of negative self-talk so pay attention to what you say to yourself and be mindful of your default mode. Are you being kind to yourself or is your default mode to think ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I’m not good enough’. Stop, listen and reframe. Have your own back.

  • Everyone else messes up

I remember confessing to my coach several years ago about my fear of looking silly and my fear of screwing up. I worked in an environment where the minute a mistake happened the first thing everyone did was work out whose fault it was. The minute you worked out it wasn’t you or your team the relief was palpable. No wonder I had such a complex about it! What I discovered was that everyone messes up. At work, at home, in the office, driving the car. We all mess up. We are human. We are not faultless or flawless. This is what makes life interesting.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein.

  • Stop seeking perfection

Aiming for perfection in every situation all of the time is emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausting. Good can be good enough and it does NOT have to be a compromise. You are not letting yourself down by taking a stand and refusing to bend yourself out of shape to attain what you believe is perfection.

Also remember this:

  • Even if people don’t agree with you, they will respect that you care more about what you think of yourself than what anyone else does.
  • Authentically communicating will always run the risk of offending someone. Accept it and continue to be you. As long as your heart is in the right place and you aren’t doing things to bring attention to yourself or perpetuate hate, division, drama, and pain, it’s okay to deviate from the majority. It’s okay to be YOU.
  • “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticised anyway.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt.