As human beings we are constantly looking to fit in. We worry about what others might think of us and that fear many times prevents us to follow our dreams, to do us, be ourselves, sometimes (many times) we do things, or don't do things just based on what we think others might things of us or how we expect others might react to what we do or don't do.
If you recognize that you are someone who's anxious about being liked, there are steps you can take to get back to a healthier relationship with others and with yourself.
No matter the “why” the truth is, at some point, we base our actions and decisions on how we anticipate other people will perceive us. As a result, we don’t always do the things we want to do, because we’re afraid of what others will think.
Before we jump into how can you stop worrying about that others might think to the point that impacts you negatively, I want to start by saying that I do believe it’s beneficial to have opinions from a few people you can trust to tell you if you’re doing something bat-crap crazy, or to encourage you to take a risk.
Unfortunately, I allowed a lot of opportunities to pass me by, simply because I cared too much about what other people would think or say. I would often not be true to myself, or don't the things that would make me happy, out of fear of how other people might react.
Here are some strategies to help you stop caring about that others think
1. Always be yourself
Never, ever stop being yourself. The reality is that no matter what you do, or not do, there will always be someone that does not agree, support or endorse your decisions and actions. Someone will judge or criticize you no matter what, so at least make sure you enjoy what you do, that you a true to who you are. Otherwise not only you will have to deal with what others think about you, but you will have to deal with the regret of not being true to yourself and do that things that were in your heart.
2. Keep things in perspective
Sometimes we assume someone thinks something about us without having actually heard those words from their mouths. Keep thing in perspective! Don't assume. Unless someone has said to your face that things that bothers you, remember is just in your head. And even if they were to say it to your face, ask yourself, what credibility does that person have in your life?
Remember that we are all different and we value different things, we all see things differently. We see the world as we are not as it is. Reminding this to myself helps me keep things on perspective.
3. Question your thinking
We, as human beings, tend toward cognitive distortions, patterns of negative thinking that can hurt our mood or behavior. For example, we may assume the worst, or filter out the good in a situation and pay attention only to the bad. Or we may overgeneralize or jump to conclusions. Pay attention to your thoughts and question them rather than allowing impressions to run away with you. Every time I start worrying about what others might think I ask myself a series of questions, like:
Is this real or is just in my head?
Is what I am doing true to my values and principles?
Am I enjoying what I am doing?
What are some positive things people might think about what I am doing or planning to do?
4. Allow yourself to be vulnerable
Am I enjoying what I am doing? was a sign a weakness, so I always tried to come across as secure, confident, having my act together. I hated not to have all the answers to all the questions, it made me felt uncomfortable because I was afraid of what others would think. In my head I thought people would interpret it as I was not good enough, I was not deserving of my title, I was a failure. I felt shame, that is the word I was looking for. I didn't thought others were thinking about me making a mistake but me being a mistake.
We don’t grow by always playing it safe; we grow by allowing ourselves a chance to fail.
5. Realize that the negative comments someone makes is about them, and not you.
This one was really helpful for me personally. Every time I start asking myself what others might think about something I am thinking or planning to do or that I am currently doing, I remind myself that whatever they are thinking is more about them than it is about me. Whatever opinion people have about us or what we are doing is formed through their own paradigms and believe system, which might be different than ours. And many times, what they see they do as it might apply to them. Some people might be jealous of you (even if it's unconsciously) , or they wish they had the courage to do what you are doing or they just look at it from their understanding of the social "acceptable" standards. Just because what we do is outside their box is criticized.
6. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?
Me worrying about what others think typically translates in me questioning whether I should follow a passion, do something I want to do, speak up or be myself. Typically, it makes me questions whether I should take a risk. Asking myself what is the worse it can happen helps me put things on perspective. Because, really what is the worst that can happen? most times the worst-case scenario is not that bad. When I put that in perspective it helps me to put aside my fears of what others might think of me and take the risk to do what I really want to do and be myself.
7. Accept that some people are going to dislike you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I touched on this a little bit on a prior point. Sometimes we just to accept this fact. We are all different, we have different values and belief systems and we can't expect everyone is going to like us. Just accepting this can help reduce our anxiety of not being "liked" or stop us from being ourselves because we are afraid of what others might think or say, or whether other will support or agree to what we say or do.
8. Clean up your environment
This one is critical and totally under our control. Where we are, the people we surround ourselves with, the accounts we follow on social media, what we read or listen to has an impact on our self-confidence, and can many times push us to fall into the comparison game, which doesn't help us in an way. Once in a while I like to do a self-audit, I audit my social media the accounts I follow, the things I read and pay attention to and I unfollow any account that doesn't serve me well.
9. Surround yourself with the right people
Somewhere out there are people who can identify with you and appreciate you for who you are. Don’t waste time trying to hang on to those who expect you to conform to their wishes and wants. Cultivate authenticity, and you’ll find those you are meant to be with. As Brene Brown writes in Daring Greatly, “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
10. Continue to better yourself
While you should not let what others think of you stop you from being yourself and doing the things you like, is also important that you don't fall into conformism. Is key that you continue to grow and learn and improve.