Caring about whether people like us is exhausting. After all, a lot of the time someone's feelings about us are out of our control. It's why how to stop worrying about what other people think is a valuable life skill that can serve us all incredibly well.
And I'd be lying if I said I didn't care what other people think of me. I've spent hours of my life stressing over what coworkers think or if someone at a party didn't seem to to believe I was awesome. Or worse, sometimes I've actively adjusted or altered aspects of myself or life to fit into other people's expectations — like when I switched my major in college because my mom didn't approve of the one I had chosen.
And then every now and then it hits me: if I'm being totally honest, I don't like everyone I encounter in life either. So why should I waste my valuable time and energy worrying about if everyone else likes me? It's just not possible, and can only lead to feelings of failure since it can never be 100 percent achieved.
If you're tired of stressing about whatever everybody thinks of you and want to free yourself of feeling like you need to fit into a certain mold, here are nine ways psychologists and experts say we can stop caring so freaking much about what everyone else thinks.
1. Remember That People Are Way More Focused On Themselves Than On You
On The Feel Good Life, a site devoted to being your happiest self, guest contributor and blogger Aldan Tan wrote that it's important to remember that generally people are pretty self-absorbed. This means that while you might be completely mortified about falling on your face on the subway platform this morning, or are worried what people will say about your outfit tonight, odds are you're focusing on it way more than anyone else. And even if someone did chuckle at your spill, chances are they'll forget about it an hour.
2. Keep In Mind That Life's Short
Tan also stressed the importance of reminding ourselves that life is short. "Don’t hold back by caring about what others think. Don’t grow up in this short life only to look back in regret, constantly asking 'why' or 'what if,'" he wrote. This outlook also always helps to keep things in perspective — if you don't think your office-mate likes you, or that guy behind you in line was rude, focus instead on goals or projects that bring you joy.
3. Imagine The Worst-Case-Scenario
A Chicago Tribune piece on ways to stop caring about what others think recommended imagining the worst-case-scenario before you embark on something you're nervous about. Will you be booed on stage? Will you receive negative online feedback? Will a friend be temporarily annoyed? If you know you can get through the "worst case" (which may not even happen), then you'll be way more likely to go through with whatever it is.
4. Know That You'll Never Please Everyone
The same Chicago Tribune piece also reminded us of the fact that we can simply never please everyone or be liked by all people, and if we try we're going to end up over-extended and exhausted (and still probably won't be liked by everyone). Use this knowledge to release you from caring about what everyone thinks, because if you do you will always find something or someone to worry about.
5. Think About What You'd Do If No One Was Watching
Founder of the life coaching site How To Live Tom Murcko said one of the best ways to stop caring so much about what other people think is to imagine what you'd be doing if you didn't have any pressures from anyone else in your life. Would you leave a job that makes you miserable? Finally tell a person that you have feelings for them? Murcko noted that sometimes just visualizing how good this will feel encourages us to make it a reality.
6. Know That Hurt People Hurt People
In a piece for Psychology Today, psychologist Raj Raghunathon reminded us that hurt people often hurt people. "What that means is that, even if you do your best to be kind and considerate, you may still be judged negatively by others," he wrote. "This is not a reflection of your failings; rather, it is a reflection on where the others are coming from." He noted that recognizing this means you'll be more likely to let what others think or say roll of your back — because it often doesn't actually have a lot to do with you in the first place.
7. Think: Does Their Opinion Really Matter?
In another Psychology Today piece, Dr. Fredric Nueman wrote that we should always ask ourselves if another person's opinion should matter to us in the first place when we're starting to feel insecure. If they're an acquaintances, random neighbor, or someone you encounter casually on the street or at a party, remind yourself that they truly cannot and will not affect your life!
8. Being Liked Is Not The Same As Being Right
This is something a teacher always told my class in high school that has stuck with me for years. She would constantly remind us that sometimes doing the right thing — whether it be right in the context of a situation or simply making a decision that we know is right for us personally — won't always make us liked by others. Conversely, sometimes doing the things that make us liked aren't always right. I've always found that keeping this in mind helps me to care less what others think.
9. Think About Other People's True Motivations
On his site Uncommon Help, therapist Mike Tyrrell stressed the importance of thinking about other people's true motivations when they say something negative about you. The fact of the matter is sometimes people act out of jealousy, insecurity, or of feeling threatened. You can't control that, but you can take their opinions with a grain of salt and be affected by them less overall.
Not caring about what other people think is easier said than done. But the alternative is wasting our valuable time and energy on things that are often out of our control. So try to let go of some of that anxiety and relax a little!
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