When you simply mimic the values of your current company, your opinion stops being yours. You become a hypocritical piece of clay, molding yourself constantly to try to fit in everywhere, and in doing so, retaining no shape to call your own.
Conversely, being courageous enough to “do your thing,” stand by your values, and live your own lifestyle (even if it isn’t popular) is empowering because you develop a strong identity. Gradually, you become satisfied and confident in your own skin.
When your top priority is to gain the approval of everyone, you’re inviting people to befriend a sham. You’ve developed a façade disguising your complex, idiosyncratic, untidy self. Most people won’t know the you that’s buried beneath, and you may begin to forget that person too.
On the other hand, habitually presenting your genuine, vulnerable, weird self does nothing but strengthen your acceptance of who you are. The people who call you friend will actually care about and believe in you, not some charlatan.
How to Stop Caring So Much About Others’ Opinions
I may have convinced you that you shouldn’t care as much about what other people think, but perhaps you have no idea how to go about doing that. Here are a few tips.
1. Stop Playing the Critic
Before you’ll be able to care less about others criticizing you, you must do your best to stop criticizing people. Realize that the act of judging others reflects your own intolerance. By rising above the behavior yourself, you can realize how juvenile it is in the first place.
2. Take Minor Social Risks
Start doing a few things that you normally wouldn’t do because of your fear of what others would think or say. Dance wildly at a show, voluntarily speak up in class, wear something edgy. Doing little things such as these will help you to understand that disregarding your fear of judgment and rejection is liberating! Others may have given you a harsh glance or whispered haughtily to a friend, but it was okay. You’re okay, and you did it.
Your fears may never entirely cease, but you will learn that acting in spite of them was more important. The more social risks you take, the less you will care. That’s the God-honest truth.
Your fears may never entirely cease, but you will learn that acting in spite of them was more important.
3. Live by Your Deeper Values
Do you know what you stand for? If you’re still discovering the answer to this question, that’s okay. However, from a young age, we all develop some form of a conscience. We inherently sense what paths are right and wrong for us. Start saying what you really feel and doing what you sense is right for you. We can develop a deeply rooted self-esteem by diligently upholding the values that most deeply resonate with us. The more you seek to align your actions with what you feel in the heart of your being, the less you will invest in the opinions of the mud-flingers.
4. Focus on Actual Outcomes
If you’re feeling anxious or afraid of someone who may be directing condescending energy toward you, ask yourself: What is the worst thing that can come of this person’s distaste? What am I really afraid of? Usually, it’s nothing more than a bruised ego. In some cases (such as bullying, harassment, etc.), more severe damage can be inflicted, and action must be taken, but most of the time, we’re just afraid—afraid of not being the best, the smartest, the prettiest, the fastest, etc. It’s okay to not be these things.
5. Love Your Good and Bad
Give yourself permission to not be the things you wish you could be. Embrace the fact that all of your qualities — both your boons and shortcomings — are essential to the equation that is you. As Kanye West once sang, “Everything I’m not made me everything I am.” Insults damage us most when we define ourselves based upon our perceived flaws.
Take time now and then to number the ways in which you’re halfway swell, and embrace the not-so-swell too. Or, perhaps look into the idea that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are cultural or psychological constructions. They may not exist; we frame the world within the good-and-bad dichotomy because our minds naturally process things in terms of what they are not.
One Word of Caution Sometimes, people who dislike you have legitimate reason to do so. Being genuinely yourself doesn’t do much good if you are genuinely an ignorant prick who refuses to change anything. Don’t forget to keep an open mind to constructive criticism and realize you still have plenty of shit to learn.
What Will This Mean for You? This can mean about as much or as little for your life as you like. The message boils down to this: Your top priorities should be saying what you feel, and doing what flows organically from you (and c’mon, hopefully helping others here and there).
If you do this, more people may end up disliking you, but you will likely be more content, stand for something (not fascism, please), and derive a sense of meaning from your identity that is arguably hella valuable.
“Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.” ― Andy Warhol
“I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.” ― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart