How to Not Care What People Think

Are you very sensitive to other people’s opinions? When someone says something negative about you, does it usually hurt a lot? When someone thinks badly of you, do you tend to mull over it incessantly? Then it’s crucial for you to learn how to not care what people think.

It’s smart to take other people’s opinions into consideration and use whatever you find valuable in them. However, if you care too much what others think of you, it’s very easy to get hurt, very hard to do what you want in life and very likely to end up unhappy.

The good news is that you can learn how to not care what people think of you, and you can desensitize yourself to other people’s opinions.

As a confidence coach, I’ve helped many individuals achieve this. I’d like to share with you and prescribe several of the practical actions that helped them the most.

1. Understand Your Reasons Clearly

Most negative opinions directed at you that you’ll hear from others concern things you chose to do, or to believe: “The career you picked is stupid”, “That sweater you’re wearing looks awful”, “Your ideas about marriage are wrong”, and so on.

People who are hypersensitive to such statements or views typically have a weak sense of why they do certain things or why they believe certain things. So when others evaluate these things negatively, it matters a lot to them.

In contrast, if you know exactly why you do something or why you believe something, if you understand your motivations clearly and you know you’re not just acting on impulse or following the heard, it’s much harder to care what other people think.

This is why one of the top advices I offer in teaching others how to not care what people think is to develop a good understanding of their own reasons. It’s like putting armor on you and making your choices impenetrable to naive criticism from the outside.

2. Make Opinions Relative

William Shakespeare once said (in Hamlet, to be more precise): “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so“.

I completely agree with this. Opinions are all relative. They don’t reflect reality; they merely reflect people’s subjective perception of reality.

So the fact a person thinks your hair looks good and another that your hair looks bad has little to do with reality and a lot to do with personal taste. And you might as well follow your own tastes when it comes to your own life.

This is a key idea that you can use to desensitize yourself to people’s perceptions.

When others say bad things about you, remind yourself of the relativity of human evaluations, about the fact they are subjective, not objective. I can vouch from personal experience that this will help you noticeably to calm down and stop feeling bad.

3. Expose Yourself to Adverse Opinions

It’s difficult to care what others think of you if you are used to a wide range of opinions being thrown at you on a regular basis.

For instance, I regularly publish articles on various websites, and in many of them I express some hard-to-swallow ideas. So in the articles’ comments section I get a lot of comments like “This is awesome”, “Brilliant article” but I also get many comments like “This is retarded” or “You’re an idiot”.

And after a period of time, I got used to it. I got used to the praise and I also got used to the ruthless criticism. I still enjoy the praise, but I don’t care about the unconstructive criticism anymore. Now, it actually amuses me.

The lesson here is to stop avoiding hearing adverse opinions and expose yourself to them instead. The more of them you hear, the easier you will take them.

Meet a variety of people, make conversation with them, be genuine and talk openly about your life, beliefs and preferences, even if they may not agree with them. It’s a great way to learn to enjoy appreciation and ignore condemnation.

4. Increase Self-Esteem, Decrease Approval-Seeking

Something I noticed early on is that almost without exception, caring too much what people think is only a symptom of a deeper problem.

This problem is that these oversensitive individuals don’t hold themselves in high regard and they’re perpetually concerned with the approval of others. And in order to get good results, they eventually need to work on this deeper issue and fix it.

Since there is a lot to say on this topic, I have a special presentation for you, in which I discuss how to build self-esteem, stop approval-seeking and gain social confidence. Click here to check it out right now.

Whether it’s learning how to not care what others think or any other positive attitude, it’s always by working from the inside out that you get the best results; from the deeper issues to the surface ones.

Caring too much how others see you is a problem created in your thinking. And ultimately, in adjusting your long-term thinking patterns lies the solution.

This is not hard, but it’s not easy either. It’s just a psychological process, which as long as it’s aided by the right advice, will happen effectively and it will not only transform your emotional reactions, but your entire life.

Image courtesy of bejealousofme

Knowing What Others Think and Feel: You Don’t

Him: “My boss doesn’t like me.

Me: “How do you know?

Him: “I know it. I can tell.

Me: “Really? How?

Him: “I just can. It’s a gut feeling.

Me: “So you’re a mind reader now…

It amazes me how confident people are when it comes to telling what other people are thinking and feeling from subtle behavioral cues. Especially if it’s about them, and it’s negative. Even the people who otherwise are not very confident.

I used to do this. When it came to other people, I prided myself on being a very good “mind reader”. Over time, I changed my perspective about that. Sure, there are cues, there are non-verbal signals, there are readable emotions. But the bottom line: mind reading involves a lot of guess work passing as skill.

Why do we generally trust our ideas about what others think and feel so much? Personally, I blame it a lot on trusting to much our feelings/ intuition. We say to ourselves “This person doesn’t like me” or “This person thinks I’m an idiot” and we get a feeling of certainty associated with that thought, a subjective validation. Then we say to ourselves “I know it!

No you don’t! Your intuition about this kind of stuff can only be trusted if it’s very well in tune with the objective reality around you. Which most probably, it’s not. Because more probably, your intuition filters your judgments through a couple of deep routed irrational beliefs such as:

  • People don’t like me.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • People are bad and mean.

So what comes out as your intuition about other people’s thoughts and feelings is based more on what’s inside than on what’s inside: your beliefs, your need for certainty and for an excuse regarding various aspects. Intuition can be a powerful thing to have and to use, but only if it’s not “polluted”.

The human psychic is a complex system of thoughts, wants and feelings, which manifest externally in a complex system of behaviors and subtle cues. Reading them accurately is just as complicated. This is why I’m a skeptic when it comes to good “mind reading” skills. The fact of the matter is, there are exactly 3524 things a person might be thinking or feeling in a certain situation, half of which have nothing to do with you.

So next time, instead of guessing what someone is thinking or feeling, try letting go of the need for certainty and admitting you simply don’t know. Or better yet, just ask her. You may actually get an honest answer.