For the majority of us, it’s other people – society, colleagues, friends, family or our religious community. We learned this way of operating when we were very young, of course. We were brainwashed. We discovered that feeling important and feeling accepted was a nice experience and so we learned to do everything we could to make other people like us. We didn’t want to be singled out by the crowd for being different because this wasn’t such a nice feeling. We learned this way of being so well that, as adults, we continue – mostly through mutual peer pressure – to keep each other in check. Like sheep without any need for a sheepdog, we keep each other in line.
We would probably be a lot happier if we all cared rather less about what other think of us. It may be worth bearing a few points in mind next time someone says or does something disapproving.
People will Believe What They Want to BelieveLet’s say you’re a peach that desperately wants to be eaten by someone in particular. However, no matter how delicious, tempting and just plain irresistible you make yourself appear; this particular person won’t even take a bite out of you, let alone eat you, and you have no idea why.
Are you doing something wrong? Could it be because you are not trying hard enough? Maybe if you were slightly riper you might appear more tempting? Well, what you might not know is that the person you’re trying to get eaten by believes that peaches are the root of all evil, and avoids them of all costs, no matter how delicious they may be.
You see, human beings generally have set prejudices (however ridiculous) about certain things that are hard to change, no matter how much of an effort you make. It is impossible to know exactly what people are thinking, let alone why they’re thinking it.
Although you may be able to influence people’s thoughts with your words or actions, you can only do so up to a certain point. You can never have total control over anyone’s thoughts, no matter how hard you try. So why would you even waste your time bothering to do so?
What People Think of You is None of Your BusinessThe more you care about people’s opinion, the more their opinion is going to affect you. If your core belief is based on what other people think, their opinions will eventually become your reality. Do you really want to mould yourself into people’s impression of you? Do you really want to make people’s expectations your priority? Do you want to unconsciously be setting yourself limits based on people’s opinion of you?
People are completely free to think what they want about you, just like you are completely free to think what you want about them. And just like what you think is no one else’s business but yours, what other people think is no one else’s business but theirs – even if it is about you.
People Don’t Care Nearly As Much As You Think They DoYou are going to be gossiped about, you are going to be judged and you are going to be criticized – especially if you are lucky enough to be a super interesting and popular person. But the thing is that no matter how much people may gossip about you, judge you, or criticize you, we are all pretty self-centered, whether we admit it or not.
It may not necessarily be in a bad or selfish way, but we do tend to give a great deal of importance to ourselves. So the probability is that while you’re busy worrying about what they think of you, they are too busy worrying about themselves to give you any real importance at all.
It’s Not Their Life, So It’s None Of Their BusinessPeople are entitled to think whatever they want, just as you are entitled to think what you want. What people think of you cannot change who you are or what you are worth, unless you allow them to.
This is your life to live. At the end of the day you are the only person who needs to approve of your own choices.
They Don’t Know What’s Best For YouNobody will ever be as invested in your life as you. Only you know what is best for you, and that entails learning from your own choices. The only way you will ever truly learn is through making your own decisions, taking full responsibility for them, and that way if you do fail, at least you can learn from it wholeheartedly, as opposed to blaming somebody else.
What’s Right For Someone Else May Be Completely Wrong For YouIt’s important to recognize that someone’s opinion is often based on what they would do. This alone is the problem. What is best for somebody else, can be the worst thing for you. What one person considers garbage can be another person’s treasure. We are all so unique. Only you know what is right for you.
It Will Keep You From Your DreamsIf you are constantly worried about what other people think, you will never get to where you need to go in life. You are going to have to do things that don’t always meet people’s standards. You will come into situations where you have to put your pride, and your reputation on the line to get what you want. If you are constantly worried about what people are thinking, you will never have the will to do what’s right.
People See Things From Their Own PerspectiveEveryone interprets the world according to his own values, experiences and expectations. Since each person is operating from a different set of values and has a different way of seeing things, it is obviously impossible to conform to everyone’s standards, especially since these standards are often contradictory.
The answer, of course, is to ‘dance to your own tune.’ Be clear about your own values and use them to judge your actions. It can be helpful to write a personal ‘mission statement,’ a simple declaration (to yourself – it need not be shared) of what you stand for, what you believe and what guides your life. So long as your actions measure up to your own credo, then other people’s opinions will seem less relevant. Your ‘statement’ will act as an anchor or a yardstick against which to judge your own actions. But remember – other people are entitled to their own values, too – don’t be too judgmental about others.
Situations Are Never NeutralWe all overlay every situation with our own perspective, grafting on an interpretation to suit our own preferences and beliefs. We do not see the world as it is – we see it as we are. When someone criticizes you, don’t see it as an objective or neutral comment. It is not. It is loaded with someone’s own agenda and usually tells you more about the other person that it does about yourself.
It is true, however, that it is extremely hard to be objective about ourselves, and that other people can shed light on our own shortcomings. But one has to be careful to pull out the useful, objective parts of any criticism. The point is simply this – don’t take criticism at face value. Analyze it, test it against your own value system, and consider the agenda of the person doing the criticizing. As a rule, people who criticize and complain a lot, or who do so in a vague way, can usually be ignored; the opinions of those who generally keep things to themselves carry more weight.
We Often Look to The Approval of Others in Order to Feel Goodjust as we might look to any number of external things to supply happiness and security. But real happiness never comes from the outside. It is within, and we would do better to tap into our own inner reserves of peace than to search outside for an illusory and fleeting sense of contentment. Nothing outside can make you feel good because nothing outside is stable, and to cling to the unstable for happiness is to invite suffering.
The thought isn't to quit minding totally – its to quit sufficiently minding to have the capacity to settle on your own choices focused around your needs, your qualities and your desire and not other individuals' conclusion.