“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” ~Lao Tzu
It is important that we choose the right clothes for the gym so we can look professional.
We beat ourselves up after meetings running through everything we said (or didn’t say), worried that coworkers will think we aren’t smart or talented enough.
To prove that we’re attractive and likeable, we post the highest quality of all the 27 selfies.
We live in other people’s heads.
All it does is to make us feel more negative about ourselves. It can make us uncomfortable about our bodies. This makes it difficult to be ourselves. It makes us live according to our perception of other people’s standards.
We feel fake and inauthentic. Anxious. Judgmental. It is not good enough. Too unlikable. It is not smart enough. It’s not pretty enough.
F that sh*t.
The truth is, other people’s opinions of us are none of our business. They have opinions. There is nothingGet in touch with us EverythingTo do with them: their past, judgments, expectations, likes and dislikes.
Any topic could be discussed in front of 20 strangers. Some of them will hate what I’m wearing, some will love it. Some will think I’m a fool, and others will love what I have to say. Others will not forget me after they are gone, while others will be able to remember me for many years.
People will dislike me, as I remind them about their annoying sister in-law. Because I am reminded of their daughter, others will find me compassionate. Others will not understand my words, while others will fully comprehend what I’m saying.
They will each get The exact same you.I’ll do my best to be as good as I can in this moment. However, their views of me might differ. This is the truth. There is nothingTo do business with me EverythingYou can do it with them.
Some people are not going to like me, no matter how hard I try. Some people will always love me no matter what. I don’t care what it is. And it’s none of my business.
Ok, “that’s all well and good” you may be thinking. “But How do I stop caring what other people think of me?”
1. Find out your values.
Knowing your core values can be like having a better flashlight for navigating the forest. A duller light may still get you where you need to go, but you’ll stumble more or be led astray.
With a brighter light the decisions you make—left or right, up or down, yes or no—become clearer and easier to make.
I didn’t know what my true value was for many years and felt lost. My decisions were never made with confidence, so I was constantly questioning everything.
It has had a profound impact on how I live my life. I came to realize that “compassion” is my top core value. Now when I find myself questioning my career decisions because I’m worried about disappointing my parents (a huge trigger for me), I remind myself that “compassion” also means “self-compassion,” and I’m able to cut myself some slack.
If you value courage and perseverance and you show up at the gym even though you are nervous and have “lame” gym clothes, you don’t have to dwell on what the other gym goers think about you.
If you value inner peace and you need to say “no” to someone who is asking for your time, and your plate is already full to the max, you can do so without feeling like they will judge you for being a selfish person.
If authenticity is important to you and you feel comfortable sharing your views with others, then you will be able to do it confidently knowing you have lived your values and are being you.
Find out what your core values are and how you place value on them. You will find your flashlight brighter.
2. Stay in control of your business.
Understanding that there are three kinds of businesses in this world is another way to not care about other people’s opinions. This lesson was taught to me by Byron Katie and I absolutely love it.
The first is God’s business. If the word “God” isn’t to your liking, you can use another word here that works for you, like the universe or “nature.” I think I like “nature” better, so I’ll use that.
The weather is nature’s business. Who dies and who is born is nature’s business. The body and genes you were given are nature’s business. You have no place in nature’s business. You can’t control it.
The second type of business is other people’s business. They do what is best for their business. The way your neighbour thinks about you is his business. It’s her business when your colleague comes to work. If the driver in the other car doesn’t go when the light turns green, it’s their business.
You are the third type of business.
If you get angry with the other driver because you now have to wait at another red light, that’s your business.
If you get irritated because your coworker is late again, that’s your business.
If you are worried about what your neighbor thinks of you that’s your business.
They think it is their business. Your business is what you think and feel.
Whose business are you in when you’re worried about what you’re wearing? Which business do you belong to when you obsess about how you were received at the party
You only have one business to concern yourself with—yours. Only you have control over your thoughts and actions. That’s it.
3. Be confident that your feelings are in control of you.
When we base our feelings on other people’s opinions, we are allowing them to control our lives. We’re basically allowing them to be our puppet master, and when they pull the strings just right, we either feel good or bad.
It is bad to feel ignored by someone. You may think “she made me feel this way by ignoring me.” But the truth is, she has no control over how you feel.
You gave meaning to her actions by ignoring you. That meant you were not worthy of her attention, you weren’t smart enough or likable enough.
The meaning that you chose made you feel sad or angry. The thought you applied caused an emotional response in your brain.
If we allow others to take control of our emotions, it is a loss of control. You are the only one who can harm your feelings, it is the truth.
To change how other people’s actions make you feel, you only need to change a thought. Sometimes this step is hard because thoughts can be automatic, or unconscious. It may require some digging to determine what thought causes your emotions.
Once you have done that, don’t be afraid to question, doubt, or accept the results. You will feel the effects.
4. You are trying your best.
One of the annoying things my mom would say growing up (and she still says) is “You did the best you could with what you had at the time.”
This saying made me mad.
High standards were something I held high for myself. I believed I was capable of doing better. So when I didn’t meet those expectations my inner bully would come out and beat the crap out of me.
What percentage of your life did you spend berating yourself for saying something stupid? You showed up late or you said something stupid? Oder that your appearance was strange?
Each time you tried your best. Every. Single. Time.
That’s because everything we do has a positive intent. It may not be obvious, but it’s there.
Literally as I’m writing this post sitting in a tea shop in Portland, Maine, another patron went to the counter and asked what types of tea he could blend with his smoky Lapsang Souchong tea (a favorite of mine as well).
He hadn’t asked me, but I chimed in that maybe chaga mushroom would go well because of its earthy flavor. He was unimpressed by my unsolicited suggestions and returned to the counter.
The old me would have taken that response to heart and felt terrible the rest of the afternoon thinking how this guy must think I’m a dope and annoying for jumping into the conversation uninvited.
But let’s take a look at what I had in that moment:
- A core value was kindness and compassion, and I felt compelled to do my best to assist others.
- It was a conversation I am interested in.
- It was my impression that I might get a positive response to my feedback
- It was my desire to meet a person with similar interests.
What I had was what I used. I made the most of it.
The truth is that I do not regret it. It is not my opinion that he thinks of me. I just tried to live in harmony with my values and be of service.
But, from another angle, I can see how forcing myself into conversations and pushing my ideas onto someone who has not asked could be perceived as rude. Rudeness is against my core value, compassion.
I am now ready to teach you the next lesson.
5. Be aware that everybody makes mistakes.
We live in a culture where we don’t often talk about how we feel. We all feel the same emotions, and all of us make mistakes. It’s amazing!
Even if your core values are being upheld, it doesn’t matter if your business is successful. You are bound to make mistakes. It’s a given.
But what do you mean? We all do. Everyone has. It is easier to have compassion for others when you realize that everybody has experienced it. It has happened to everyone.
Learning from your mistakes can only make you more productive. Once you figure out the lesson you can take from the experience, rumination is not at all necessary and it’s time to move on.
In the case of tea patron-interjection-debacle, I could have done a better job of reading his body language and noticed that he wanted to connect with the tea sommelier and not a random stranger.
Lektion learned. There is no need to bully yourself.
Inadvertently, I caused an entire company to be upset at my previous company. My friend and colleague, who has been with the company for several years, was asking for better parking spots. He was not offered one, even though he had been let go by the company.
He’s such a nice guy, and as my department was full of sarcastics, I thought it would be funny to create a pun-filled petition for him to get the better spot.
It was a surprise to me that some would take it so badly. It was passed up through the hierarchy of command, and it looked as though our department was filled with needy whiners.
It was interpreted by our boss as if I tried to persuade people to agree. The whole team was brought together by him, who painfully and inconsolably exposed the entire situation and demanded that it not happen again.
I. Was. MORTIFIED.
He hadn’t named me, but most people knew I created it. My shame and embarrassment was overwhelming.
But here’s what I did:
- My values were reaffirmed. Humor and compassion are two of my values. My friend thought that I was being kind and funny.
- When I worried what people would think about me now, I reminded myself to be positive. IfTheir negative comments about me were not supported by evidence. I tried my best to remain the best version of myself.
- Flashbacks to that horrible meeting came back, causing me to feel numb and ashamed. I decided to own how I felt, and not allow the memories or opinions of others to dictate my feelings now.
- It was important to remember that what little I had, I tried my best. A friend needed my help and I was motivated by a funny idea that I assumed would be a success.
- It was obvious that my mistake had been made. My lesson was to pay more attention to how other people may perceive my humor. My husband doesn’t find me funny like I do. Because of this, I am able to make better decisions.
After a brief time, the entire incident was forgotten.
You don’t need to worry about what people might think. You will be able to change the direction of your life.
**This post was originally published in 2020.
About Sandy Woznicki
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Tiny Buddha’s first post, 5 Mindset Changes That Will Make You Quit Worrying About Other People’s Thoughts appeared on Tiny Buddha.