There is something far more dangerous than the anxiety caused by social media — addiction to others’ opinions.
What stops a domestic violence victim from leaving her husband? What prevents a homosexual from coming out of the closet? Why do adults behave like adults when they indeed want to behave childlike? Why do boys laugh when all they want to do is cry their hearts out?
The answer is: Those choices are determined by people’s fear about what others mightthink? The need for approval, the need to be labeled correctly, and the need to be understood and accepted, decide individual self-worth and how deeply people value themselves. For that reason, fear of rejection and constantly worrying about what others think is devastating, debilitating, agonizing, and therefore, completely unnecessary.
Tom Ferry, CEO of YourCoach and the bestselling author of Life By Design, says:
“The addiction to the opinion of others affects areas of your life you may not even be aware of. For example, your decision to live in a particular neighborhood, drive a certain car, send your kid to private school, wearing designer labels, the watch around your wrist, the vacations you go on, the clubs you belong to, all of these things are tied to what someone else thinks.
“The addiction to what other people think has another significant impact; it represses us, which in turn keeps us in a sort of purgatory, afraid of the consequences of pursuing the life we really want. “If I do this, they will say ____________.” You won’t be happy because you believe that people are judging you. It becomes easier to stay miserable so everyone else in the status quo will be fine.”
So how do you stop worrying about what other people think of you; and be who you are and say what you feel, because “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”? Here’re some of the easiest ways to stop measuring yourself by other people’s standards, and free yourself to be yourself…
1. Accept Yourself
Learn to accept, approve, and love yourself. Everyone changes, but when you accept yourself exactly the way you are, the changes are positive. In 2014, a University of Hertfordshire study found that self-acceptance corresponds most closely with us being satisfied with our lives, overall. Furthermore, research also shows that people who have higher self-compassion are less at risk for developing depression or anxiety; loving yourself, thus, has the potential to make you more optimistic.
2. Own Your Actions
Basically, mind your own business. You do not control the way people can or do think about you, just as they do not control the way you can or do think about them. Before you start attaching yourself to other people’s responses or expect others to think of you in the way that you desire, realize that opinions are based on associations we all have had in the past. Be who you want to be from your own perspective, from your own experience. If you cheat, own it. If you lie, own it. If you are happy, own it. If you are jealous, own it. Be genuine, and ask yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” and come to terms with it.
3. Do What Makes You Happy
No one else is living your life; the only person who knows what is best for you is you. When you do things that make you happy, you give others a guide on how you want to be treated and perceived without giving a damn about their opinion. Start living the life you want to be living – that in your opinion, will bring you the most joy. If you must worry, worry about your opinion of yourself and how to keep yourself happy. You can’t please everyone, but you can unquestionably please one person that matters — YOU.
4. Find Your People
Surround yourself with people who are self-assured and live life without comprising their core values. Dr. Gary Trosclair, psychotherapist, and author of I’m Working on It in Therapy: How to Get the Most out of Psychotherapy, writes:
“Don’t imagine that you can stop caring what everyone thinks. Seek out the people who see your strengths and goodness and whom you trust. Stick with them and take what they say seriously. When you fear that they’re thinking badly of you, check it out: Ask them what’s going on. A small group of friends or community can go a long way in increasing security. It’s important to know that you’re loved.”