3 Steps to Stop Caring About What Other People Think of You

emotional life self-worth thinking Jul 13, 2021


Let's face it. When someone tells you “don't take anything personally,” it's not something that you automatically jump up and do, right? Your response usually isn’t, “Oh wow, thanks for telling me that. I hadn’t thought of that”. More likely than not, when you hear the words “just don't take it personally”, you think “well, you know, if I could, I would!” If you're anything like me— an emotionally attuned human being, then you know that it's just not that simple.

I’d love to zap you and immediately make you stop caring what people think of you. But, since there's no way for me to do that, I’d rather share with you the things I’ve learned throughout life experience that can really make the experience of living amongst other humans easier. Here are the three most important of those things.


1- Understand that nothing anyone ever does is because of you.


The understanding that “nothing anyone ever does is because of you” is the most important one of all when it comes to our happiness as inherently social creatures yet it's not the easiest one to grasp. Because, hey, let's admit it. . . things feel personal!


When someone criticizes you, it can feel quite personal. When someone cancels their plans on you without much of an explanation, it can feel personal. When someone breaks up with you, it can feel rather personal. When someone mistreats you, it too can feel personal. And there are so many variations of this. . . a lot of the behavior that the people around us have can feel personal.




Allow yourself for just a moment to take on the perspective that everything that anyone ever does is because of them, not because of you. We each have a mind that thinks thoughts that perceives a certain reality of how life is and what the world we live in looks and feels like. And if you were to look inside the minds of you and the people you interact with day to day, you would soon recognize that the worlds that these minds see are vastly different from one another. Why wouldn’t they be? We all have different temperaments, childhood experiences, and styles of perception and emotion. And so, another person's words and actions are only about them, not about you.


Consider this.


If someone looks at you with an unpleasant look on their face, it might mean that you're wearing something absolutely atrocious according to this person and their particular fashion sense. It might also mean that this person doesn't like you very much. Whatever the reason for their unpleasant facial expression, it has little to do with you. You might remind them of their uncle Harry who was a mean old man that they had no choice but to grow up with for 20+ years. Or they might be having a rough day and not smiling their usual smile and their unhappiness is simply being expressed and in no way related to you. So rather than jump to conclusions that what this person thinks or does is all about you and assume that they're mad at you or dislike you, why not assume that they have their own perspectives and experiences that lead them to feel and think the way they do, regardless of whether it happens to be you that’s the subject of their attention or somebody else? This realization can be such a big relief because rather than letting other people’s actions be a reflection of our worthiness, we let our sense of worthiness be inherent and come only from within.


2- Accept yourself and see your own worth.


Speaking of worthiness… The less we accept ourselves and the less we love ourselves in here, the more likely we will be to perceive a lack of acceptance and love from out there. The less power we feel for ourselves internally, the more likely we will be to turn that power over to external sources, i.e., other people.


You hear this from me often and there is no better place to highlight it again than an article on how to care less about what other people think, but there's nothing more important in this life than the relationship that you have with you. (Did you catch my last live segment in The Happiness Hub? The topic of the week was “The Single Most Important Step For Self-Love and Healing” and I talked in depth about this! You can catch the replay any time. Click here to join us!

When you know that you're inherently worthy, nothing that happens out there can take that away. When you know that you're loved unconditionally, nothing that happens out there can take that away either. And when you hold yourself in the highest regard, guess what? Nothing that happens out there will be able to take that knowing away from you. In fact, you'll be less likely to perceive things that happen out there as a sign of your lack of worth, lovingness, or regard. We are bothered more not by what happens around us, but by our interpretation of what happens around us. And so, there’s no better antidote to caring what other people think than knowing your own worth and loving your own self.


There is no better antidote to caring what other people think than knowing your own worth and loving your own self.


One of the growth and learning edges I advise for my clients who struggle with caring “too much” with what other people think is to really observe how they feel in response to someone's words or actions. Just as other people's thoughts and actions are a reflection of them and only them, our own thoughts and actions are a reflection of us and only us. That being said, when you feel charged by someone's words or actions, that means that there's something within you that is allowing you to feel diminished or put down in some way by an opinion or perspective that isn’t your own and perhaps even one that’s imagined, invalid or simply not true. Think about it . . .  if the validation and approval of this other person wasn’t important to you, would you care enough about what they think or say to take it personally and feel bad?

Probably not.



Take it from me. I’ve been the girl with very little self-worth and confidence and am now I’m the woman with lots of self-worth and confidence. Back in the day, any negative comment or glimpse of an unpleasant glance would stick to me like glue. Because I didn’t think well of myself, I was afraid that what the person was saying— whether with their words or with their eyes— was true. It tormented me.

These days, if I hear words of disapproval or negativity directed at me, I question them. What they’re saying must not be true, right, because I know myself to be completely otherwise! I’m much more able to question the words of others and oftentimes shrug them off completely. Other times, I might see validity in what is being said to me or of me. In that case, I take the perspective of self-compassion by reminding myself of the challenges that have led me to have certain qualities, and then the perspective of self-growth that reminds me that I can kindly and compassionately commit to grow and become a better woman every day.

Moral of the story? Learn to see yourself as a worthy and internally powerful being. And little by little, you will no longer let your worth be determined by others, and little by little you will stop giving your power away.


3- Check on your expectations of other people’s behavior.

You feeling “less than” in response to someone else’s actions may be a function of you feeling “less than” or unworthy to begin with, as noted in #2, and it may also be a function of the beliefs that you have about how people ought to act. Do you expect all people to act like you, or do you acknowledge that people may behave differently than you and may even have perfectly reasonable and acceptable reasons for doing so?


For example, you might all of a sudden find yourself feeling unworthy because you said “hello” to someone you shared a glance with at a coffee shop and they didn’t say “hello” back.


People could have a few different responses to this kind of situation, right?


Let’s take Hannah, for example. Hannah says hello to a person she barely knows in the coffee shop and that person doesn’t say hello back. Hannah thinks that because they didn’t say hello back, they’re being disrespectful and not showing her the respect she deserves. Soon she starts to wonder whether maybe that person didn’t give her the respect she deserves because heck, she actually doesn’t deserve it. She is left feeling completely disrespected and utterly unworthy.



Let’s take Agnes. Agnes, in a situation similar to that of Hannah, doesn’t receive a hello back from the stranger in the coffee shop. She knows that she herself says hello because she is naturally drawn to people and appreciates the brief interaction, no matter how small or trivial it might be. She also knows that not everyone is neurologically built the same way— some people don’t prefer small talk and some don’t see greetings with people you barely know to be necessary forms of politeness. She ponders for a minute and comes up with a few potential reasons why the person in the coffee shop didn’t say hello. They don’t really like saying hello to people they don’t know like Agnes does (perhaps they don’t see it as a necessary gesture of politeness), they aren’t having the best day, or they simply didn’t hear her.


If Hannah had taken a moment to pause and consider the across-the-board validity of the beliefs that were leading her to feel disrespected and unworthy, she might’ve done something to prevent herself from feeling crappy and unhappy for the rest of the day. This is why step #3, coupled with step #1, can make a huge difference in how you feel each day.


Which are you going to try this week? #1? #2? #3?


Let me know in the comments below.


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