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I have a natural tendency to care entirely too much about what other people think. It manifests itself in the way I dress, how I decorate my home, the amount of time I spend cleaning before someone comes over, and in how I manage my children, among other things. It’s a struggle for me to stop caring what others think.
But this internal struggle to constantly impress others has taken its toll on my life, causing conflict within myself and my relationships. It has caused me to try too hard to control everything and everyone around me in order to live up to someone else’s perceived expectations. And it has caused me to fall into a depression when I felt like I would never be good enough.
But my therapist’s words to me changed my perspective. Oh, I didn’t get it right away. In fact, I thought it sounded ridiculous when I first heard it. But as time has gone on and the true meaning of these words has sunk in, my life has improved.
It’s none of your business what others think of you.
People aren’t thinking about you anyway
A lot of our anxiety about what others think comes from the false assumption that people are thinking about us at all. On the contrary, humans, in general, tend to worry more about themselves than they do about what we did or didn’t do. Think about it, do you walk around all day stressing out or judging someone else because of something they said or did? If you did, you probably wouldn’t be reading this post. Nope, you (and I) usually spend most of our time more concerned with what we did or said. And if that’s true for us, then it’s most likely true for just about everyone else too!
What they think is a reflection of them, not you
Even if there’s someone out there judging your every move, it’s not about you. In my experience, the more bitter, angry, judgmental, hostile, rude, critical, or hateful a person is about a topic or a situation, the more likely it is that they are struggling with something and the thing you did or said triggered it. Don’t take it personally. Realize that we have to stop caring what others think and learn to recognize that everyone has their own battles to fight. It’s not your responsibility to fight for them. If someone is being critical of you, take a moment to decide whether what they say is actually true or not. If it’s not, then let it go and move on. (If it is true, take it as a lesson to be learned from and be grateful for the realization – even if it wasn’t delivered in the most tactful way.)
You weren’t meant to live someone else’s life
Each and every one of us has a purpose in life. We are all designed with certain talents and passions that allow us to do something in this world that no one else is equipped to do. That means that you are unique and special and there is not a single person in the past, present, or future who will ever be exactly like you. You have your own story, your own experiences. And those experiences have shaped who you’ve become, for better or for worse. But that’s what makes you, you!
When we start caring too much about what others think of us and our choices, we rob ourselves of the life-enhancing joy that comes from finding and following our own passions and desires in life. When we let others’ opinions of what we should be doing or who we should be alter our plans, we steal something wonderful from the world. God didn’t intend for us to wither under the shade of someone else’s plan. He intended for us to grow magnificent and beautiful in the light of our own personal path. Don’t let someone else’s thoughts hijack your journey.
The next time you feel those worries about someone else’s opinion of your life start to creep in, just stop caring what others think. Remember, it’s none of our business what other people think about us. Whether they like us or not. Whether they think we are making wise choices or not. Whether they like our haircut or our outfit or think our career is a waste of time. None of it matters. Do you know why? Because they aren’t us. The only opinion that matters, in the end, is yours. So go live the life you were called to without fear. You were made for this and no one else can take your place.
In the words of Dr. Suess,
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”