My husband is a confident guy, but not in an obnoxious, full-of-himself kind of way. He’s kind and generous, (very) hardworking and loyal, and so incredibly loving towards his family. I like to think I possess many of those qualities myself, but there has always been one very definitive difference between the 2 of us: he never, ever apologizes for who he is, whereas I spend about 99% of my day feeling guilty about absolutely everything about myself and the decisions I make.
Do I think this has something to do with the fact that he’s a man and I’m a woman? A little bit, perhaps. But I think it has a lot more to do with how we were raised.
What fascinates me most is how my husband reacts when I tell him about the things that make me anxious. The amount of guilt I harbour on a daily basis absolutely blows his mind. He’s forever telling me to stop worrying about what other people think of me, and last year I decided to take his advice.
And you know what? It’s been so freeing.
I have spent the greater part of my life worrying about other people’s perceptions of me. The idea of someone not liking me makes me want to hyperventilate into a brown paper bag, and since I grew up in a household so focused on outward appearances, I have never felt like I was enough. Becoming a mother did nothing but amplify these feelings, but as my daughter has gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s up to me to break the cycle. I want her to grow up feeling comfortable and confident with herself and her body, and that has forced me to evaluate the messages that were given to me as a child and the impact they’ve had on me, and figure out how I can do things differently.
I’m still a work in progress, but one of the biggest things I’ve learned is to lead by example. If you want to learn how not to care what people think of you, I’m sharing 7 simple yet effective tips and strategies that have helped me along the way.
How Not to Care What People Think Of You
1) Ditch the notion of perfectionism
While there’s nothing wrong with striving to be your best self in every single thing you do, the need to be PERFECT can lead to excessive worry and anxiety. Perfectionists have a habit of setting unrealistic standards for themselves, and often engage in procrastination and/or avoidance due to fear of failure. Someone who strives for perfection will never feel as though they measure up, which can cause a whole host of challenges, including depression, anxiety disorders, and low self-esteem.
If this sounds like you and your goal is to figure out how not to care what people think of you, remember that perfectionism is a form of self-hatred. Create more realistic goals for yourself and aim for progress over perfection.
2) Stay true to your values
Do you make decisions based on what you feel you should do, instead of what you actually want to do? Do you allow other people’s expectations to cloud your judgement? Do you live in fear of other people’s perceptions of you? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, you aren’t living your life authentically.
I think we’re all guilty of allowing others to influence us, but age and experience has taught me the power of having a clearly defined set of values. Taking the time to identify the things that matter to you, and living your life in pursuit of those goals and ideas, will allow you to live a more authentic (and happier) life.
3) Avoid people who trigger you
Our lives are a direct result of the choices we make and the people we surround ourselves with, and if you’re struggling to learn how not to care what people think of you, it may be time to do a little housekeeping. We all have people in our lives who have a way of pushing our buttons and making us feel inadequate, and while it may not be possible to avoid these people completely, it’s important to find ways to ensure our interactions with them don’t impact us negatively. This may be as simple as engaging in something positive after interacting with people who trigger you, but sometimes you need to take things a step further and set clear boundaries or limit/stop contact to protect yourself.
4) Remember: it’s not you, it’s them
The last 12 months or so have been a time of significant reflection and growth for me, and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is this: When a family member, friend, or random person on social media tries to belittle and undermine you with their words, it’s usually a reflection on how they feel about themselves and rarely has anything to do with you. It took me a LONG time to wrap my head around this, but it has been really enlightening and helpful to me.
When someone says something hurtful to you and you feel yourself getting defensive, do your best not to react. Take a deep breath and count to 10, and then take some time to consider why the other person may have been lashing out. Are they mocking your healthy eating habits because they feel insecure about their own weight? Did they make a negative comment about your haircut, makeup, outfit, etc. because they feel uncomfortable about their own appearance? Did they criticize your parenting because they’re worried you’re a better mother than them? It takes some practice, but I promise that if you dig deep enough, you’ll almost always find a reason why someone is treating you badly, and 9 times out of 10, it will have nothing to do with you.
5) Embrace the fact that not everyone will like you
If you’re a people pleaser like me, this can be a hard concept to wrap your head around, but it can also be very freeing. Once you come to terms with the fact that you’re not destined to be BFFs with every single person you encounter on a daily basis, you can stop pretending to be someone you aren’t and focus on nurturing relationships with your tribe instead.
Rachel Hollis once said, ‘Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business’, and while it can be hard not to get caught up in what other people think of us, learning to let the opinions of others slide off your back will change your life.
6) Remember that you only get ONE life
I once saw a meme on Instagram that said:
Why aren’t we running like we’re on fire
towards our wildest dreams?
Those words are so powerful, and if you’re struggling to figure out how not to care what people think, remember that your life isn’t a dress rehearsal. You only get one shot at happiness, and if you spend all of your time worrying about others, you’re wasting precious time!
7) Stop apologizing for who you are
My final tip for those who want to know how not to care what people think is to buy Rachel Hollis’s book, Girl, Stop Apologizing and read it cover to cover. She’ll give you the courage to be your authentic self, and she’ll teach you how to live your life unapologetically.
If you are on a quest to figure out how not to care what people think of you, I hope these tips and strategies help you as much as they’ve helped me. Remember to stay true to yourself, to ditch the notion of perfectionism, to surround yourself with people who lift you up, and to stop apologizing for who you are!
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