Caring what people think is a natural instinct. According to Dr. Gary Trosclair, NY based Psychotherapist ‘it’s very human to want to be liked’. Isolation is dangerous for our mental health, but if you betray yourself to get people to like you, that causes problems that are at least as bad if not worse.’
In an article for the Huffington Post, Dr Trosclair listed six traits which prove you worry too much what people think of you. How many do you identify with? I had a response for 5/6, yikes!
1. You do things you don’t want to do and you resent it.
2. You no longer (or never did) really know what you want.
3. You’re afraid to say what you really believe.
4. You spend time with people you don’t like or you avoid people out of fear.
5. You struggle to make your own decisions.
6. You imagine that people are upset with you when they really aren’t.
For the good news now, the doc outlines techniques to help you out of Give a Damn Lane.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind (Bernard Baruch)
Don’t imagine that you can stop caring what everyone thinks. Seek out the people who see your strengths and goodness and who 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.
What if other people do think badly of you? Thank goodness! If everyone likes you, you’re probably not being true to your self. Ask yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” and come to terms with it.
Spend time alone or in therapy
In order recognize what you want, trust that you’ll need to have periods of time when you can hear yourself without worrying about the voices of others. Journal. Talk to yourself. Ask yourself what you need. Find ways to make yourself happy that don’t depend on other people. Psychotherapy can also help with this because it focuses on hearing what’s inside of you.
Speak your mind (it takes practice)
This could mean taking some chances. You may not be able to do this at work, since we usually need to maintain an appropriate persona at work. But exercising your opinion elsewhere can build confidence. This can be scary, but it can also be liberating. Avoidance breeds anxiety, while mastery brings self esteem. Again, therapy is a safe place to start.
Decide what’s truly important to you
Is what people think of you high on that list? Make a short list, post it on your fridge, send yourself reminders on your phone, and don’t let critical folks who are suffering from insecurity come between you and fulfillment.
Find your inspiration
Name three characters, real or fiction (Rosa Parks, Superman, Muhammad Ali) that have faced these same fears and overcome them. Carry their image in your mind. In society, we’ve used stories of heroes and heroines that have not followed the crowd to help us overcome our own fears. Images of their courageous acts reach fear centers in your brain that may not respond to simple logic and can free you to follow your intentions.
There have been several times in my professional career where I felt unsure of what I want and I have certainly been guilty of holding back my opinion for fear of ruffling feathers. I have people in my life that I know don’t benefit me, but I don’t have the heart to let go. I have always felt the need to consult several people when making key decisions but it comes with a law of diminishing returns. The point is, we are all human and conformity has become so natural to us that being yourself is now the challenge. Individuation isn’t easy. It takes courage and perseverance, but in the long run it feels better. Bringing your unique offerings to the world is what gives your life meaning.
Thank you Dr. Trosclair for the inspiration behind this post.
As always, pushing for health xx
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