How to stop caring about what others think of you?

Who I am
Robert Maurer

Author and references

We are social beings. Relationships are a source of support and growth, so we need to establish bonds with others, but this also makes us sensitive to their views. We all like to feel accepted and validated. Instead, we don't like feeling excluded or rejected. There are times when we place overemphasis on the opinions of others, so our self-esteem and emotions begin to fluctuate based on external acceptance or rejection.

Of course, taking into account what others think of us is not a bad thing. We all need to be aware of the image we project, the influence we exert on others and how they see us. However, trying to please others at all costs, keeping silent about what we think for fear of criticism or continually relegating our needs to the background in order not to be rejected can make us extremely dependent on external confirmations. In order not to fall into these extremes, it is important to learn how to protect yourself from unhealthy opinions.

How to stop caring about what others think of you and prevent it from harming you?

1. Keep perspective

Our tendency to self-centered leads us to exaggerate the interest we can arouse in others. In psychology, this self-centered bias is known as the "focus effect" and refers to our tendency to think that everyone is watching and judging us. In fact, a study conducted by Cornell University found that most people who wore a shirt with an embarrassing image thought they attracted a lot of attention, but the truth is that they went unnoticed. Everyone has their own worries and insecurities. So they are likely to observe us far less than we assume.

2. Question your thinking

We tend to believe that we are rational beings, but we are victims of several cognitive biases that distort our thinking. For example, we have a tendency to imagine the worst or filter out the positives of a situation and pay attention only to the negatives. Or we constantly go over the words they said to us, letting them continue to hurt us. Therefore, the next time we find that we are thinking too much about what others have said, we better take a psychological distance and ask ourselves if we are really objective or if it is a trick of our mind to keep ourselves concerned with the opinions of others.

3. You are the sole owner of your emotions

It is important to understand that the harm or offense is not only in the words they use against us, but also in the way we interpret them and in the seriousness we attribute to them. We cannot control the words and opinions of others, but we do have control over our reactions and emotions. While it is difficult, especially when the criticism comes from a close or important person, we must learn to step back and regain control. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

4. Many times criticism says more about those who criticize than about those who are criticized

In a general sense, for criticism to be assertive and constructive, it must focus on the behavior, not the person. When a person attacks us on a personal level, it is likely that this attitude is a projection of his own shadows, of those things that he has not integrated into his personality and does not want to recognize. Therefore, criticism often says more about those who criticize than about those who are criticized. Remembering that it's generally nothing personal, but maybe it's due to the person's going through a bad time or not being assertive, will help us manage their opinions better.

5. Strengthen your identity

To stop worrying about what others think about you, you need to increase your self-knowledge. When we are sure of who we are and our values ​​are clear, we will seek less external confirmation. When we are clear about our goals and the path we need to take to achieve them, the comments of others will boil down to mere opinions. The key is to understand what we like and what we want, daring to make decisions that allow us to move forward. In this way we will consider the words of others as mere opinions instead of taking them as criticisms, and we will avoid them from destabilizing us emotionally.

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