02 Jan How To Not Care What People Think
So many of us struggle with the aspect of how to not care what people think. What people may think about you, can become extremely crippling, futile and nugatory.
It all comes down to one thing: why do we care in the first place?
The reason why we care about how we appear is because: we have values about ourselves, that define us and we want those values to be praised or at least, appreciated.
You want evidence that your values are accurate. You want your boss, clients, customers ,friend or lover to validate this image. You want to get approval of your self image and principles and, you want to be loved. This is not an easy thing to get. So every time something is contradictory, you feel like it hurts you deeply.
That pain is what drives us to kiss- ass or be super considerate about others. That pain is created by us, and should have never existed in our life anyway!
Speaking of contradiction, the very nature of yourself is against apathy and towards selfishness.
Imagine all of your cells, repairing and building individually and all of that makes one whole living organism- YOU.
The very nature of your body is to fend for itself. The more you try to contradict this, the more you place the wishes of those around you at a higher priority, instead of taking care of yourself first- the more resentment you create.
To shed light on resentment- Let me tell you the story of how I shifted my life from one country to another. It was 2011, I had to move to India from the UAE for my higher education. It was what my parents had wanted, so I left my whole life and friends behind, worried about shifting to a place I had never lived at.
Upon arrival, I felt kind of lonely, like a fish out of water, no body understood me. So I decided to listen to the advice of someone that said- “socialize and make friends”. I spent my entire first year in university trying to enroll in theatre, music, sports and numerous other courses to prevent myself from missing home and get my hands deep into socializing and making new friends.
A year later, I couldn’t even recognize the person I saw in the mirror. I was constantly worrying about my appearance,I was traumatized by anything negative that people said about me in public, I wanted to act smart and win as many competitions as possible, to improve my self-esteem. I was starting to turn into someone else and I didn’t know why I was so unhappy despite my efforts.
When it came to living in another country, there was one HUGE thing that really bothered me - it was constantly assessing how people think about me.
I was a big people-pleaser. I thought that I shouldn’t be an ass**le, I should be extremely caring and empathetic. I thought I was doing the best , doing the greatest good but my own values and my core dreams got sidelined. I had no shortcut to self development because I was constantly concerned about other people’s agendas, their opinions and being sensitive to their opinions, never thinking for myself.
I spent another year is constant depression, despite knowing tons of people, I realized that I didn’t
have any true friends, because I wanted quantity, not quality.
So I detached myself from people and started to mentally abuse myself. No one helped me get back on track, I had to do it for myself. I began to think independently, I took more responsibility about myself, because I knew I had to let go of who I became, and find out - who I am.
In my last year, I was so fortunate to find work near to my university. It was a great store that sold merchandize related to pop culture. Everything that has a cult following, from movies, comics, music and even tv shows was sold there and it blew my mind! I was so lucky to work at a place like this after college hours because it opened up a different world. One where I could spend hours at, and never feel bored. I wanted to explore all the classics, the specifics and the even more specific kinds of movies or music- and this helped me define who I am. I started to develop a passion for characters that I wanted to be like.
I gained access to insight and knowledge about life after watching movies or decoding some amazing lyrics. Some amazing comic books- Like Watchmen and Maus really taught me a lot.
In this world, I was doing what I loved, I was focused on being real and having TRUE opinions while debating the values and morals within me. I became more focused on my health and started to see myself as an important living thing that had much more to explore- mentally and physically.
I defined who I am and what I want to be.
I placed my needs in front of that definition.
But sometimes you might ask yourself - so what should I be then?
Is it Careless Human(putting yourself first) vs Self Sacrifice (let others impose themselves on you)
Your mind might find it tough to find the middle ground on this. The answer is to find the middle path:
When you are so grounded in your values, you begin to think independently of the good or bad opinions of others. When you know your values are good and those values are right- whatever opinions are out there about yourself, they don’t matter. All you think about is staying internally grounded in those values.
And when you are so deeply grounded, you can focus on your path and no one can interfere in that path. You keep in mind your inner values and work towards your agendas.
This makes me think of something that happened to me today-Sometimes I feel silly wearing a headband to keep my hair out of my face, I think it makes me look like a young girl. I wear it at home, wearing it to work is a different story. But I really needed that to focus on my work, and prevent myself from being distracted.
Now I know that one of my values call for being efficient at what I do, it shouldn’t matter how I look while doing it. Just because I look silly doesn’t mean that I am silly. Similarly, if someone makes fun of me, I know not to take it personally because I know who I am inside and the jokes don’t matter because the good or bad opinions of others don’t matter.
So being in charge of the path you’re walking on, doesn’t mean that you’re self sacrificing or suffering or being a heartless bitch, the middle path is all about making an extraordinary life by being focused on your path and ensuring that no-one is taking you off that path or agenda.
Your path might be: focusing on enriching your dreams, working on your own values or working on yourself. For most people, this path is disrupted by not honoring your own agenda, by being too focused on thinking what others are thinking about you. When you’re being a people-pleaser, these dreams or your own agendas often get sidelined. (this actually happened to me.I was so caught up in thinking about what everybody else was thinking when I talked on stage or talked to them, that I lost sight of forming my own opinions.)
The path, the goal, the future are all the same if you stay internally grounded to your values. There is a great quote that I read which said: “when the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind”. This encapsulates what it means to live without caring about what others may think of you. Any opinion other than your own should not interfere with your core values. As long as you know who you truly are, based on defining your values, the things that others say cannot move you away from that definition.
Nehita is a mindfulness expert who writes extensively on lifestyle management, wellness and ways to lead a healthier and a happier life. She is a part of Aware’s expert team on meditation. She is also an avid artist who spends most her time dribbling amazing stories through art.