Why You Shouldn’t Care About What Others Think Of You
Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion. ~ Simon Sinek (Tweet this)
Ever experienced that sinking feeling wondering what others think of you? Ever found yourself breaking a sweat wondering if they hold a negative opinion? Can’t make out what your boss, boyfriend, girlfriend, or “just a friend,” thinks of you? Social psychologists call this wondering about “what others think of you” an outcome of the strong human desire to ‘feel liked.’
Forget about what everyone else thinks and says. If it makes you happy, do it. ~ Unknown (Tweet this)
Everyone is searching for bonhomie and camaraderie, and we constantly look out for cues in the behaviour of people around us which prove that they like us. We want people to be nice to us. It comforts us. This makes us extremely sensitive to the behaviour of others and keeps us guessing what they think of us, even as we hope that they hold us in good stead.
Our sensitivity towards the way people behave with us, and our desire to ‘feel liked’ results in self-consciousness. Humans beings are highly self-conscious—aware of ourselves, even when we think we’re not. Checking ourselves in the mirror, asking our friends what they think of us, casually checking if anyone is looking at us, listening to us or laughing at our jokes . . . there are many ways in which we express our self-consciousness.
If you really think about it, the entire grooming industry is built on people’s need to look good in order to be perceived well by others.
Giving importance to what others think of us is an instinctive impulse. We are doing it all the time, quite often involuntarily. However, problems arise when we overdo it.
Drawing a line
Like with everything, even self-consciousness needs a boundary. Too much wondering what others think of you can be harmful in many ways. Obsessing over the ‘impression’ we’re creating in the minds of others prevents us from being ourselves, and makes us ill-at-ease in social situations. It takes away all the joy from company, even as it makes us nervous and jittery. Hence, we need to keep ourselves in check.
Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else. ~ Judy Garland (Tweet this)
Good grooming is appreciated in most instances.
It is scientifically proven that immediate impressions are based primarily on appearance. In a time-strapped society, few people look past outward appearances to appreciate the person behind. Hence, a bit of effort in looking presentable, being polite and well-read always helps.
Also, many people have things that they deeply appreciate and some that they resent. If you are planning on meeting someone you hold in high regard for the first time, a bit of background knowledge always helps.
Find out things that might help (for example, the person’s likes and dislikes) and act upon these in a bid to make a strong case for yourself. There is nothing shameful in such pursuits, so long as they are not harming anyone. However, if you resent something, but pretend to like it just to present a good impression of yourself, it may prove to be a losing game. Apart from the possibility of getting exposed, you may end up getting so bored that it ruins your impression instead of boosting it.
It’s also important to remember that what others think of you is never entirely in your hands.
What someone may appreciate or abhor in a certain situation is a result of many factors. The person may be tired, stressed, or even preoccupied, which may all end up affecting what he or she thinks. If you enter the boss’ office to discuss something important when he’s weighed down by a truckload of other pressing concerns, he or she may not entertain you, and may even snap or be unnecessarily rude. This can always be construed as the person not thinking well of you when it may just be a case of bad timing.
Hence, one needs to give a bit of rope when second-guessing others’ opinions. Quite often we devote too much time and energy in thinking about other people. However, in some cases we end up over-judging.
We read between the lines when there is no need to, and put ourselves through unnecessary distress. In fact, social psychologists also say that contrary to what we feel, people don’t think about each other as much as they think is the case!
What to do when others think badly of us
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. ~ Oscar Wilde (Tweet this)
Sometimes, though, we may find that certain people do think poorly of us. It hurts us tremendously, especially when it’s someone we thought well of. Obviously, we search for reasons. However, one must be most objective in doing this. Else it would be difficult to separate the constructive from the contrived.
For example, if poor hygiene is affecting the opinion others hold of you, fixing it will not just help you gain back lost territory but it will also help you personally. However, if someone is envious of your achievements and what they say stems from spite, it is better not to take it too personally.
Final thoughts about what others think of you
One of the biggest dangers in always wondering what others think of us, and taking their dislike personally, is that it takes away our spontaneity. It obstructs us from doing things the way they come naturally to us. Many writers say that when their writing is constantly judged and rejected, their desire to write diminishes, and even when they pick up the pen, they are full of self-doubt and can’t put the words together.
So, if you find yourself always worried about what others think of you, try to address a nay-sayer, if you can. Sometimes it may just be about starting off on the wrong footing.
Quite often you discover delightful friends in former critics.
But don’t try too desperately and don’t feel too bad if things don’t work out.
The world’s full of people and there are as many styles of thinking as there are people. Living in the world means facing it with all its diversity—not always to our advantage. In this light, Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt offers some wise advice:
Small minds discuss people; average minds discuss events; great minds discuss ideas. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt (Tweet this)
Think about it…if Einstein was concerned about how people perceived his wild hair, he may not have achieved what he did!