You shouldn’t care what other people think of you.
Stop giving a f*ck about what others think.
What other people think of you is none of your business.
Maybe you’ve heard some of this advice before. It’s well-meaning, intended to encourage you to be true to yourself and live your truth.
And, yet, you still find yourself caring what others think of you. You still find yourself wanting to be liked by your boss, your co-workers, the people you meet.
Even though you “shouldn’t” care.
So now you’re in a double bind. You’re worried about what people think of you and whether they like you, and you’re anxious because you “know” you “shouldn’t” care. You’re judging yourself for caring.
How can we extract from this tangled web of anxiety about what other people think and whether they like us and whether we are giving too many f*cks about all of it?
Step 1: Stop Should-ing All Over Yourself
First: Let’s start by stripping away one layer of anxiety here.
The moment you start in with what you “should” and “shouldn’t” feel, you saddle yourself with judgments. If you’re in judgment, you cannot also engage in curiosity. Regardless of the prevailing advice, you feel what you feel. Making it wrong won’t help you get to the root of why you feel that way.
And if you want to change how you feel (if that’s even possible), then understanding why you feel that way is important. Even if you don’t want to change how you feel, understanding why you might feel that way gives you more insight into how you operate and what triggers your emotions.
Once you remove the self-judgment piece, you can look at how you’re feeling and investigate with compassionate curiosity.
Hmm… I notice I’m feeling really anxious about what people will think of me, and that I really want them to like me. I wonder what’s behind that?
Step 2: Question the Premise of the Advice
Second, let’s look at this advice that we shouldn’t care what people think or try to be liked. This is simply not good advice, in the way it is typically delivered.
This well-meaning advice may come from a good place, but it ignores a fundamental reality of human nature.
Wanting to be liked is our default state as human beings.
You want to be liked because you’re a human being and human beings need love and connection. It’s not a wish-list item. It’s a basic human need.
The “longing to belong” to the tribe is built into our DNA. It’s how our ancient ancestors survived. If you weren’t part of the group, you were left on your own, and stood no chance against the elements and the animals in the wilderness.
Perhaps you can begin to see why the advice to not give a f*ck about what other people think is just stupid. It goes against our DNA.
My own observation is that most people who preach about not giving a f*ck what others think actually care more than they let on.
So you care what people think. You want to be liked. Congratulations, you’re human 😉
(insert celebration dance… if I had an assistant helping me publish these I’d probably have a fun GIF here. Use your imagination.)
Now, does that mean that you need to care what other people think as much as you care?
We’ll talk about how to shift this in part 2.