5 Tips to Stop Worrying about What other People Think

5 Tips to Stop Worrying about What other People Think Artist: Estefani F.
Larissa Burgess

In the past five years of my life, I have let go of the worry about what other people think about me, and I would like to share the tips that I followed to make this change. 

The judging of others is a common human trait that everyone has done and experienced in their lifetime.  Knowing this, we are in fear of the judgment that might be coming our way.  I can remember many instances hearing a friend talk about someone else we knew negatively and then thinking to myself what they actually thought about me.  In our heads, we come up with full storylines based on a look someone gives us or how they deliver their words.  Whether their thoughts towards us do occur, we may never know, but it doesn't stop from having a real impact.  And in the instance that we are receiving judgment from others, what is giving this validity?  In past civilizations of the world, having others' approval may have been more of a benefit, as there was little other connection than the people around you.

In this day and age, we have more luxury when it comes to not needing to be a part of the group.  In the past five years of my life, I have let go of the worry about what other people think about me, and I would like to share the tips that I followed to make this change.  


1. Work on eliminating negative self-talk

If you are not kind to yourself, it will make sense for you to believe that others think negatively.  Negative self-talk perpetuates the insecurities that you have about yourself.

You may have the tendency to put those negatives thoughts on the way someone else made you feel.  It is easier to work through them if they come from an outside source rather than start internally.  Sometimes the hardest thing is realizing that we can be our own worst enemy.  Instead of feeding into these thoughts, let them go.  If you try to replace them with positive thoughts, you will continue to need to cram your brain with positive affirmation after the positive affirmation.

This can be exhausting, and when you get tired of doing it, the negative thoughts will creep back in.  In a way, combating them with positivity is also giving validity to those negative thoughts.  Let the thoughts come in and flow out of you.  You do not have to accept all of your thoughts as facts, but rather as what it is—just a thought.  When we can deal with our own negative thoughts, it sets us up for better success when dealing with others' thoughts. 


2. Own up to your shortcomings

One part of the worry about what others think is that we are afraid of seeing our real shortcomings. Our instinct is to want to cover these up and present the best version of ourselves, hoping that is what others see.  The problem with this is instead of working on and owning up to our shortcomings, we continue to let them be aspects of us that make us feel insecure.

When I suffered from severe anxiety, I never wanted others to see me struggling, so I would pretend it wasn't there.  This did not make my anxiety go away but made it worse because I could not be true to myself and what I was going through. Through acceptance of my struggle and the ability to share that with others, it put the power back in my hands.  It is easier to care less about the judgment of others when we face our own shortcomings head-on.  


3. Be selective of those you listen to

The opinion of those who do not matter to you or know you should not cause you stress or pain.  If we tried to appease everyone, we would be pulled in all different directions.  Be rooted in the fundamental values that you live by and trust the opinions and thoughts of those that love you and are aligned with you.  Additionally, the way someone else thinks about you may be due to many outside factors that have nothing to do with you and more to do with how they view themselves.  I often find myself not liking someone I have just met because I see the same flaws in them that I see in myself.  Not liking them is more of a form of self-loathing than judgment directed at them. 

Be careful about the opinions that you value as humans contain biases. Unfortunately, we are not all geared with empathy at all times—even if we are highly sensitive and empathetic. 


4. Put work into self-love

Taking the time to take care of yourself physically and mentally is a reminder to yourself that you are important.  At times we give too much power and attention to those around us, rather than putting that energy into ourselves.  As empathetic people, it is natural to focus on others' needs, rather than our own needs.  When you take the time to do things for yourself that make you feel relaxed, confident, empowered, and valued, then it will matter less what others think as you are reinforcing the voice that you matter. 


5. Let go of the need for control

Worry often stems from our need to be in control.  When it comes to the worry of what others think about us, we often do everything we can to match how we think others want us to be.  Unfortunately, if we change how we are to accommodate those around us, we will continuously be compromising ourselves.  This will also offer no guarantee that anything we do can change what people think of us.  Embracing the fact that we are not in control and accepting that people are free to believe whatever they want will help give mental peace.  As a people pleaser myself, this is something that I have learned over time. However, I am much happier with accepting that I do not have to be liked and accepted by everyone.  


Letting go of the worry about what other people think can help change how you perceive your whole life.  It is worth releasing yourself from your perceived thoughts, judgments, and expectations that you think others have about you.  While there is no easy switch to flip to let go of this worry, it roots back to consistent work that we can put in daily.  It is important to remember that the road to self-improvement is done one step at a time.  

Remember to be kind to yourself and put love into yourself to solidify the fact that what you think about yourself is infinitely more important than what others think about you.  

Are there any tips you'd like to share with others to stop worrying about what other people think? Leave a comment below.

  • Max Taylor commented 1 year ago

    Hi Larissa. Really enjoy the empathy in your writing. Feels much more like a discussion. There are so many dimensions to this I want to discuss. Maybe should become a forum thread. A couple thoughts... ---- (1) Leaning how to see when people are stating opinion as fact ---- I think there's a huge, key difference between not caring about someone's opinion when expressed as an opinion, versus an opinion stated as a fact. The former is honest and truthful. The latter is, let's not beat around the bush, an direct lie. It is fallacious. It is a form of manipulation and power. It is gaslighting. And to say "ignore the gaslighting", I'm just not sure about that. To me, it's like saying "just walk away from the bullies". The problem with avoidance is that it lets abuse continue. Lots to unpack there but something I wanted to mention. ---- (2) Unsolicited opinion giving ---- This is similar to #1 in that the true underlying issue here isn't just the opinion, in of itself, it's how it's presented. People love to give opinions. Yet they hardly ever ask if the other person wants to hear the opinion. Not asking for permission is it's own form of hostility. It is a direct act of aggression. Often this aggression is very low level. And sometimes it might not even be unwelcome. But if it's not asked for, that's a violation of the autonomy of another to say no. And, as I write this out, the point of #1 and #2 is that these problems are NOT issues of low self-esteem. They are issues of outright hostility coming at you, with self being forced into a defensive position by an aggressor. Calling in a "mental weakness" is yet another form of gaslighting. ---- Concluding Thought ---- Nothing in this article mentions the aggression of others. For me, that makes me feel like I myself am the whole and only reason that I am miserable. And I think that's something missing from the self-help community. I do think there are important elements of self-growth and personal accountability. There are also things that aren't originating within self. Negative self-talk? That's from within self. Others acting hostile toward you. That's a hostile external pressure. And that fact that those external pressures become your problem is blame shifting in a wildly unfair and oppressive manner and I'd like that to be talked about more.

  • Max Taylor commented 1 year ago

    Had an issue to separate out from the last post ---- (3) The need for connection and validation ---- Here's a question: Do we need some non-zero amount validation from others? I think the answer is yes. I'm not saying that one should rely on the validation of others. My hypothesis is that relying solely on self for validation is unhealthy. You know what a narcissist is? It's someone who only values their own opinion. At least, that's a definition that I think makes sense. If the advice is to wholly stop caring about the opinions of others, does that not make you a narcissist? To me, I try and strive for a mindset that hold my opinions equal in value to others. I do care about the opinions of others, in the sense of empathetic understanding. I think the opinions of others are valuable guideposts for self. I try to realize that I don't know everything, and when the opinions of others differ, questioning self is an immensely valuable gift. Where the problems come in get complex - A) Undervaluing my own opinion. Dismissing my right to even have an opinion B) Realizing that if others aren't valuing my right to hold an opinion, that's an act of hostility C) Mapping out what it means to have opinions about the opinions of others ---- Concluding thoughts ---- First, want to acknowledge that this post (and my last one?) both have aspects that are opinions, not facts. Want to own that. Second, what I think would help me most with what to do about the opinions of others would be to map out these concepts more... - What IS an opinion? - What is the difference between a rational opinion and an emotional opinion? - What is the difference between an opinion and a fact? - What IS judgement? - Which judgments are hostile or disrespectful of others? Which aren't? If this community wants to dig into these questions with me, I'd love to give it a go. My one ask is starting with a mindset that perhaps none of are "right". A willingness to be self-wrong, combined with an expectation that one's own opinions will be respected.