I have met two types of people in my years as a coach:
- Those who let their fears hold them back and they live a life of frustration.
- Those who pretend they don’t care what others think and live a life of lies.
Neither one is living life to the fullest.
Don’t get me wrong—we all care about what people think of us sometimes. If you’ve ever given a speech, gone on an interview, or tried something new, you’ve likely experienced the fear of what people might think of you.
The trick is to find a way to truly be unbothered by the opinions of others.
Here are 4 questions you can ask yourself to learn how to not care about what people think:
1. What am I feeling?
It’s easier to blame another person or the circumstance for your fear because it takes the focus off of your shortcomings. Instead, ask yourself, what am I afraid of? Then look inward. Ask, Why does that bother me? Is there anything I can do about it?
Too often, we point the blame outward when the problem lies within us. If you are struggling with insecurity, get help. If you’re struggling with low confidence, start practicing. If you’re struggling with feeling inadequate, do what you need to do to feel better about who God made you to be. Whatever you do, be proactive in getting help. I assure you, it will not get better on its own.
2. Where am I feeling it?
Many of us are programmed to flee from our intense emotions. But not all negative emotions are bad. Oftentimes they can reveal what’s going on inside of us. But they don’t need to dictate your actions. You’re in control, even though you don’t ‘feel’ like it.
Identify the feelings in your body. Perhaps you feel like your throat is closing up and your heart is racing. Maybe you feel like you have knots in your stomach and you’re sweating through your brand new shirt. Whatever sensations you notice, acknowledge them. Then like a martial artist, use them to your advantage. When I get on stage to give a talk, sometimes I feel like my heart is going to pound out of my chest. Instead of running away, I use that adrenaline to bring energy to my talk. Could you imagine how boring it would be if I were mellow and laid back delivering a motivational speech?
So what if you’re afraid? Do it anyway.
3. What’s the worst that can happen?
Rarely does your worst-case scenario come true. But if you’re going to worry (which I don’t recommend), at least have a plan in place for your worst-case scenario.
Maybe you have to give a speech and worry about forgetting what you’ll say; have notes. Maybe you want to learn how to dance and worry about looking foolish; look up the steps ahead of time and practice. Maybe you have an interview and worry about what the boss will think of you; have some positive affirmations lined up ahead of time to tell yourself. Any of these proactive steps will boost your confidence.
4. How can I create a positive pattern?
You’ve likely heard the expression “Get right back on the horse”? When you do fail (which WILL happen, so stop trying to avoid it) it’s best to get right back up and try again. Otherwise your fear can create a negative pattern. You will remember the last thing you did, so don’t end it on a bad note. Try again.
When I was in my early 30s I took up ice skating. I wasn’t content with just doing laps around the rink, I wanted to learn all the spins and jumps. As you can probably imagine, I fell… a lot. Falling was more discouraging than it was painful (although, five sprained ankles, two concussions, and a pulled hamstring were pretty painful). But I knew that if I didn’t get right back up and try again, I would likely think too much about my failure and create a negative pattern in my mind.
So when you do fail, get right back up and do it again. Modify if you have to, but whatever you do, don’t end on a negative note.
Remember there is no way you can accomplish anything worth while in this life if you are consumed with what others think. Jesus could not accomplish that for which he came by caring about what others think, and neither can you.
If you feel like your thoughts start with a spark and turn into a wildfire, you might be struggling with toxic thinking. Toxic thinking can infect relationships and your life. If you are ready to transform your thought life, join us for our online course “Overcoming Toxic Thoughts”
Caring about what people think is uncomfortable. “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and watch how high you’ll soar” (Isaiah 40:31).