You’ve probably read a lot of info about how to stop caring what people think. This isn’t surprising, because if we can stop putting so much emphasis on what people think, it’s likely we’ll experience more positive emotional states. Therefore, we’ll suffer less from fear, become more capable of achieving our goals and, ultimately, live our lives with more freedom.
However, what if you simply can’t stop caring what other people think?
Some people seem to have a gift of being able to do this and block the negativity out. To withstand the cold looks, the rejections and the harsh words without giving a rats. You might be able to switch on and off like this and, if so, I’m envious.
Why? Because I care what other people think.
I’ve always been very connected to people and feelings. I got my degree in veterinary science because I felt, and still do feel, such a deep connection with animals. Whenever I was told, in the past, not to care about what other people think, I wondered how the fuck to do that. To me, it’s instinctual and reactive to care, because other people affect my emotions. It’s as simple as that.
But, there is one concept that helped me stop caring what people think. It’s a mindset shift that changed everything. It is:
Don’t try to stop caring what people think
Even five or so years into my stripping career, with an audience of 400 cheering women, I still remember how just one disgusted look from an audience member affected me. It didn’t matter that the show went on and I did a killer performance to rousing applause. The one person in the audience I remembered was the woman who gave me that disgusted look – because I cared about what she thought.
If you’re an empath like me, it’s not likely you’ll ever stop caring about other people’s reactions to you, either. This is what led me to develop a new way of thinking about the problem, rather than trying to fit myself into the mindset of just not giving a shit. My brain doesn’t work like that and, if you’re the same, here’s what you need to do:
Train yourself to act despite caring what people think
It’d be great if we could walk along in life with shields up to deflect the negative, reactional arrows of other people. Because we can’t, it’s important to sink into the realisation that, although those arrows might sting when they hit you, they won’t kill you. In fact, they’ll barely scratch the surface because they’re always temporary. A cold look, a nasty insult or a rejection certainly stings for a bit, but it’s always possible to pull the arrows back out.
Armed with this knowledge, you’ll discover that it’s possible to absorb the blows and keep taking action, even while you’re feeling that emotional sting. You’re probably doing this right now in everyday life, just like I did by continuing on with a great performance despite the disgusted look I received. The show must go on, right?
Start to take notice of all the times in life where you keep moving forward in the face of what other people think. This will help you to see how very resilient you already are. For example, it doesn’t usually feel good if a client criticises your project, but you strive to find a solution regardless. It doesn’t feel great when your ballet teacher has to correct your technique over and over again. However, you persevere to get it right because you have a sincere desire and passion to do so.
Apply this resilience to everything in your life, whether it’s dating, a relationship or a new business venture. Let your purpose and passion drive you, and train yourself to keep taking action even though you care what people think. When you do this consciously, you’ll work this self-development muscle and begin to build your own type of resilience. Eventually, any negativity gets outweighed by the inner positivity you feel when you’re shaping your own destiny.
If you need some help pulling those arrows out at first, here are a few things to remember:
Differentiate between constructive criticism and a negative arrow
First up, it’s so important to be clear about whether or not feedback from others is constructive and given with good intentions – or not. For example, it can hurt to be told that the job you’ve done needs to be improved on, especially when you think you did a fantastic job. However, constructive criticism is essential for growth, so don’t blind yourself to help just because it sometimes hurts to receive it.
A negative arrow isn’t even about you
On the flip side, unless you’re punching someone in the face and they punch you back, it’s not likely someone’s negative reaction or opinion has anything to do with you at all. If someone says something intentionally harmful, it’s a direct reflection of their inner landscape – which probably isn’t a very happy one.
To a lesser degree, if someone doesn’t like what you do, how you look or what you say, it’s generally a matter of taste or a difference in opinion, and nothing more. Always look behind the arrow, to see where it may have come from. Is it just a difference in taste, or is someone intentionally aiming harm at you?
Chances are the person throwing the harmful type of arrow is doing so from their own pain, and you’re an easy target. To take the arrow out, step out of the way by withdrawing your attention and energy from it, and them if you need to.
Always look behind the arrow to see where it may have come from. Is it just a difference in taste, or is someone intentionally aiming harm at you?
You can’t please everyone
There is no one on the planet who has the capability of pleasing everyone. And, the more visible you are, whether it’s at the office or on a stage, the more subject you are to the varying opinions of others. With the knowledge that you can’t please everyone, comes the acceptance that you don’t have to.
This doesn’t mean it won’t hurt when you find out someone doesn’t like something you say or do. What this understanding does do, is help you pull the arrow out quickly and easily, the next time it happens.
Don’t accept everyone’s opinions
Anyone that has even a small online presence knows that everyone has an opinion and many people are highly vocal about it. Just remember that, after your own, the only opinions worth accepting are those from people you truly trust. Don’t weigh yourself down with hundreds of arrows just because they’re there.
Always remember that, for the most part, the opinions of others rarely carry any weight at all – especially if they’re from people you don’t know. If you perceive negative opinions with fear, remind yourself that they’re often just words said in the spur of the moment, depending on someone’s mood. For example, you might worry about a negative comment on social media for weeks. Meanwhile, the person who wrote it forgot about it, and you, the second they moved onto the next person’s page.
At the end of the day, it’s my inner drive and belief in my cause – empowerment for women through self-esteem, growth and authenticity in dating – that gives me all the strength I need to absorb the arrows, take them out and keep walking forward.
Sink into acceptance about the fact that those arrows will keep coming no matter what you do in life, that you will care and that it’s OK to do so. Training yourself to act despite the arrows, in the knowledge that they don’t hurt as much as you think, will ensure the most important thing:
That you don’t ever let them stop you from doing you.