Do You Care what Other People Think of You?

I traffic in fear. Much of my day involves hearing clients’ fears.

The most popular? “Joe Schmoe won’t like me”.

They’re worried about what so-and-so thinks of them, or they’re doing X—which they hate to do—because another person’s opinion matters so much.

Worrying about approval from others is an epidemic. Maybe even a pandemic. People aren’t dropping dead from it, but they are dying a little inside, every time they take action based on this fear.

Why do we care so much? It actually has nothing to do with other people.

It’s totally about what we think of ourselves. We let others’ opinions determine how we feel about ourselves and that’s the opinion that matters. The self-judgment is what really hurts.

We only care about what they think because we believe it and it influences what we think of ourselves.

Love this example, use it all the time:

If someone called you a tree, would you care? Would it bother you if someone called you up, screaming, “You’re such a Maple, I can’t even stand it!”

It wouldn’t bother you. You’d know that their opinion is about them, not you. It’s in their head, out of their mouth, based on how they view the world. You’d say, “Crazy friend, I’m not a tree!” and go on with your day.

Because you know you’re not a tree.

But when they call you selfish or dumb or mean, it bothers you. When they think you should’ve done better, you care. Because part of you believes them.

You could just as easily know that their opinion is about them in this case, too. It really is. If they see dumb or selfish or mean, something in them is looking for it. It’s still their opinion in their head and out of their mouth based on how they view the world.

But it’s different this time because you buy into their story. Part of you fears they’re right.

And that’s why we all care so much about what others think of us. Has nothing to do with them at all. We care what we think of us.

Which, of course, is good news. Your opinions are something you can work on. Others’ opinions…none of your business.

Related Posts:

Sitting with Negative Emotion

Can you embrace feeling like sh*%t?

Self-love: To my Daughter

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