09 Jan How To Not Let People’s Opinions Matter
When it comes to “ how to not care what people think of you”- it sounds like an impossible task, given the fact that we have been wired to put our best face forward, since we were cavemen. A long time back, most of us cared deeply for what was thought about us, because banishment from a group meant – death. To survive was to please and these days, we may not rely on a group for shelter or food, but it still feels like a life or death situation ( metaphorically, of course) when things go wrong.
So when did it start to become normal to care what people think- was it in our teens? Or was it important to us as children? Obviously, it affects everyone as we get older, but is it existent in a child that has been through the process of vehement evolution, generations later?
The stories of babies crying out loud, when a mother leaves the room, returning to find that hidden behind the child’s visage of cheerfulness will be another round of tears if she were to leave again, proves that as infants, we know when the attention is not on us. And we are constantly craving the good kind of attention again and again- no matter how old we are.
Herein lies the problem, why are we constantly looking for validation and compliments, while believing that it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, I’m going to be me?As we keep contradicting the brain, emotions will give in and we might suffer deeply becoming more and more self-conscious and socially awkward.
The answer is simple- be neutral to the environment around you.
Usually, we’d think- if someone compliments me, good, and if they don’t, well, that’s okay. We filter compliments or opinions based on positivity levels, anything bad or any criticism is “whatever” at first, and then it keeps you up at night.
Choose to love yourself regardless of what anybody says- whether it is positive or negative. Staying neutral helps you find the middle ground, and slowly the only opinion that will matter to you, will be yours! This way you will be able to hear both constructive criticism and compliments- and not take it to heart. The only exception to this rule is, of course, the opinions of your loved ones that you respect. They are the ones worth changing for. But today we are just focusing on how to not care what people outside your loved ones, think.
Another gentle version of “how to not care what people think”-is to not get defensive. When you get into defence mode, you’re bound to get angry when the situation is unexpected. You can’t always know exactly what to say or what to do- so keep calm and listen- Process instead of being prepped for an attack, this way your replies will be more thoughtful rather than feisty and for once, you’ll walk away with self-content rather than regret. After you’ve actually listened, you can sift through and decide whether any of the feedback might actually help you do better.
Even though you may hear a voice saying “ what will the neighbors think?” or “what if someone thinks it’s weird”, put on your detective hat and hold a magnifying mirror over who taught you to think like that? It could be that the urge to please people was soundly drilled into you from another generation.
Like I said, our brains have been wired to please people- but whatever you learned can be un-learned too (the earth is flat, atoms are the smallest particles, Pluto is the 9th planet, etc) Replace “what will the neighbors think?” with “I’m going to be neutral with people outside my loved ones” or “Few people go out of their way to be negative”. That’s how you find the solution to – How to not care what people think about you!
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.