This is NOT a “how to not care about what others think” post.

Photo by Jake Botter
Photo by Jake Botter

We all know we shouldn’t care what other people think about our decisions.

The vast majority of us still twinge with the thought that someone could misunderstand our motivations or question our preferences. I do.

I am, by nature, a fairly intuitive person. I detect quite a bit of below-the-radar information that is flying about in conversation or lack thereof. Most of it is good information. It helps me stay engaged, understand where things are going, and stay ahead of the game.

However not all this information is helpful.

Whenever I start to believe that I know what someone else is thinking in terms of me, I lose.

I let that perception get in my way. I assume many things and start to operate on my assumptions.

I’ve tried over & over again to reprogram that behavior by reminding myself that it doesn’t matter what other people think. It only matters that I’m true to me and my own values. But I’m a people pleaser. I always want to have the right answer, the shared interest, the story that lets you know I understand.

But here’s is my aha! realization from the last year or so… When pricing, emailing, having coffee, making an offer, buying, selling, tweeting, texting, talking, laughing:

It’s not about learning how to not to care what others think. It’s about understanding that you don’t know.

You just don’t know what others think. You might think you know. But you don’t.

You don’t know what others think. You don’t know how they’ll react when confronted with your most true beliefs & desires.

Be true to you and allow others to be true to themselves.

You tell me: do you care what others think? How do you reconcile that with your actions?

11 thoughts on “This is NOT a “how to not care about what others think” post.

  1. I definitely get that twinge, when wondering what others think of my actions. You are so right to point out that I’m really just thinking I know what others are thinking… My imagination runs wild and the reality is that probably noone is judging me at all! It’s somewhat like when you are uncomfortable for whatever reason and think that everyone notices in public…

    I think that we certainly care what others think, although there are many different groups of people with varying degrees of caring. Family is different than friends, than business peers, etc. :) I suppose it’s important to not let your assumptions drive your actions ultimately… because you won’t be true to yourself in that way…

  2. Here are four “Energy Allies” that I work to practice in my life:

    1. Speak with Impeccability
    2. Don’t assume anything
    3. Don’t take anything personally
    4. Always do your best

    I learned of them first as the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and later I adopted this with my Nia practice. It helps calm down all of that chatter about what I think that others think about me.

  3. Thank you SO much for this post! I have struggled with this Si much, to the point of severe depression, and quitting a career I was actually really great at, because I completely made up things I thought others thought! Ridiculous huh? I went to therapy, and paid a lot of money to pretty much be told what you have just written!

    Now, I got my job back, and I am relentless reminding myself these very Hungary every day. Again, thank you so much for this post, it seems like divine intervention that I recieved it today!

    Thanks again,

  4. I go through spurts of caring too much and getting stressed out about it. I try not to but it happens. I guess I just distract myself at times by just being happy with myself and my immediate family.

  5. An insight that I will surely be repeating to myself. “You don’t know what others think.” So simple, and too true, yet easy to forget. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. I do care what people think of me. Not to the extent that I did when I was a teenager and young adult, but other people’s perceptions do affect me.

    The way I manage this is acceptance. I’m a people pleaser, too. I tend to feel better when I don’t beat myself up for this fact but realize that this is where I am right now.

    I also tell myself that caring what other people think isn’t so bad, as long as I don’t let it steer me away from doing what I truly want to do. If people’s opinions, real or perceived, are wrong, I can ignore them. But if something hits a sore spot, I look inward to see WHY it did. It usually leads to an epiphany of some sort.

  7. I quit caring what others thought when I was around twelve – some pretty twisted and dramatic events taught me that what I thought didn’t matter anyway, so why bother caring what others thought? I know, lots of therapy going on there, right?

    I’m a people watcher, and I’ve seen over and over that most people are doing the same thing – worrying about what others think. We almost always feel that we come up short when we compare ourselves to others, and so does everyone else. It all seems very energy- and time-consuming to me.

    In my rather tiny and backward little town, I am considered ‘weird’ by some and downright evil by others because I’m different. I don’t do ‘normal’, I do what seems good and right and true to me, even if it’s not popular. I figure if I use that as my compass, I’ll at least not make too many enemies:)

  8. I was always the opposite of intuitive when it came to what people thought of me. It wasn’t until I was about 30 that I realized that there were people who actually DIDN’T like me (WHAT?!?! They don’t like me?!?! hmmmm…you sure?!?!) I spent the next 3-5 years wondering if people liked me by trying to judge their expressions and dinner invitations (or lack thereof), and finally settled to where I am now, which is, sometimes I get on my OWN nerves. So, if someone doesn’t like me now, they can get in line. 😉

  9. Like Marylee I have been practicing the Four Agreements for at least ten years now.

    1. Be impeccable with your word
    2. Don’t take anything personally
    3. Don’t make assumptions
    4. Always do your best

    Simple yet difficult these have saved me many times.
    I still make assumptions, regularly, but now I recognize it and don’t react, or respond (take it personally).

    Doing your best may change from day to day, but it is in the effort that you will be true to your self.

    “Be true to you and allow others to be true to themselves.”


  10. Tara, are you talking to me? I think you are talking to me. You must be.

    When I was young(er) I cared whether or not people thought I was pretty. As I’ve grown (older and as a person) that doesn’t bother me so much. Now, I care that people think me kind, smart, reliable, successful. Oh, I’d love to go back to my more vain concerns.

    I spend a lot of time worrying that I come off as that “rich white girl who thinks she’s just so magnanimous.” Apparently, I think other people will find kindness insulting.

    I’m actually working on this “caring” too much with my therapist right now to get to the place Gwyn is. If I can recognize the times when I’m over-analyzing, projecting, and worrying, we can slowly start to counter the negative feelings.

    So yes, Gwyn, I agree we should be true to ourselves, bur first “know thyself.”

  11. I’ll admit, this is me to a tee. Often I am pretty sure I don’t know what others really are thinking of me and my decisions. However, what if they flat out TELL you. My mother-in-law says very unkind things all the time, and it’s not hidden. How do you reconcile with that? People have told me it doesn’t matter what she thinks, who cares, just go on living your life your way. You’re not doing anything wrong, she’s the one with the problem. But she is IN my life, she is Grandma to my kids, and Mom to my husband. As annoying as she can be, she’s NOT going away. I need help with this one, because trying to not care what she thinks doesn’t work.

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