Updated: Apr 24
I remember when I was 14, that was the time when I used to worry the most about people's opinion. I was in 11th and there was pressure on everyone to perform really well in 12th board and join IIT JEE coaching classes. Out of the studies pressure, there weren't any friends who came for walks in the evening and I loved walking in evenings with friends. So I was stuck at home not doing anything. I didn't want to study continuously 24/7. I needed a break and fresh air and there was no one to hang out with. I felt awkward to go out alone. I thought, "what would people think". I used to think that everybody will think I am alone, nobody is there for my company. So I asked my Mom to come with me for evening walks but she had her own company in the evening to walk. Although initially I felt nice that she was accompanying me but then I thought that I was depriving her of her circle. So I again stopped going for walks. But then that started depressing me. I started using Social Media. At that time Orkut was more popular. But to my surprise it depressed me even more. I fell into the comparison trap and I felt bad about my life. That was a wake up call for me and I thought I am caring about people's opinion and depriving myself of living my Life with Joy. Also I overheard some of my classmates saying that I never come out for evening walks. That was paradoxical because I wanted to go out in the evening but when I would ask some people, they never came for an evening walk. They were always busy studying or they were always in coaching classes. So I thought the world is really bipolar. They will judge you if you go out for a walk alone and they will judge you if you don't. So either way the loss was mine. That was the day I decided that whether or not I have company I will go out for evening walk. I applied this not only for my walks but in all aspects of my life as well. Here are some other tips that helped me to stick to my new formed resolution:
1. Remember Your DNA
Always remember that your mind is designed for survival. Our ancestors in the hunter gatherer days really wanted to be a part of the group and to be in the group you had to know about the group's opinion about yourself. You had to be in their good books otherwise you will be outcasted and if you are outcasted you can die alone because you can be attacked by a predator or you can die of not finding food or it was very difficult to survive alone in harsh weather conditions. Hence, we are programmed to seek approval of people's opinion but in current times we are not facing any such kind of survival threat and we can definitely survive alone so do not forget that and always remember that whenever you have a thought "what will they think of me"; ask yourself "whether you will die if they think bad of you?". 99% of times, the answer will be "No". You will survive and very much thrive in your Life.
2. Don't take Personally
Now this is something I read in the book The Four Agreements. In the book, one of the points was, to not to take things personally in order to live a fulfilling life. People form an opinion about you because they are seeing you from their own lens which may or may not be true about you. For example, there was a man who was going in a train with his kid. The kid was crying very loudly. The passengers in the train thought that the man was really a bad father because he could not calm the kid. At the next station the man got down with the kid. Another passenger in the train then informed everyone in the train that the man had just lost his wife. Everyone was astounded in the train because they thought that the man was a bad father but he was in his own remorse because of the news of his wife. My point is, people can form opinion about you because of their own programming of mind, because they are viewing your life from their own lens so placing too much importance about their opinion is not correct because they their version may not be completely right and you are experiencing your life in your way so it is important to not let these two things get mixed.
3. Don't get paranoid
We always think that people are thinking about you all the time. This is not true. Most people are thinking about themselves most of the times. So stop really thinking that you are the subject of attention and people start talking about you everywhere you go. This is just being paranoid. So be carefree and just let people think whatever they want to. Even if they are thinking about you, don't let their opinion about you define your state of happiness. Because people and their opinion change all the time. I remember, a close friend of mine was topper in her class till 10th standard. Everyone in our class, from students to teachers used to praise her a lot. She was the go to person for any query. After 10th, her performance dipped. The very same people who used to praise her started circulating negative rumours about her. Hence, your time and situation changes & with that people's opinion also changes. Don't let that dictate your self worth. You are perfect with or without anybody's approval. You don't need a certificate from anyone that you are the best. You exist in this World, that itself is a certificate from the Universe that you are Awesome.
4. Accept Yourself
One of my friend, had her hair coloured into purple. Now purple colour is something very few people do and I had advised her that you should not go ahead with this colour because people will make fun of you. It is really a weird colour but she was completely ok with it and she said to me that, "if they find my purple hair colour offensive it is not my problem it is their problem". This really impacted me in a big way because I found that she was so accepting of her choices and what she is as a person, that it didn't really matter to her whether or not the other person likes her hair colour or not. She knew that she liked her look in that way and her own opinion is more important than people's opinion. As long as you are not causing any physical or mental harm with your actions, you should not really care about what other people will think. It is their problem if they are not happy with your choices. You don't need to explain your choices to anyone. For this, increasing yourself Self Love can be helpful. Read this https://www.mindsutra.in/post/10-ways-to-start-loving-yourself-the-way-you-deserve-to-be-loved-1 to increase your Self Love.
5. There is No Race
We all are running in a race from childhood. It's like if we don't come first, we will die. We constantly compare ourselves from the people around us. We are trying to become better and better from them but whenever you become better from a person you will always have someone who is even better than you. It's a never ending race. Your race is with your own self. Just try to be better than you were yesterday.
6. 3 Days Rule
When you are stuck with, "What will people think", just imagine you have only 3 days to live. What will you do in these 3 days? If you have only this much time left, will people's opinion matter to you?? What is the worst case scenario that would happen if you go ahead with your decision. Will you regret not going ahead because you worried about people's opinion? Use this tool to move forward whenever you are stuck in this zone.
7. 5 and 80 Rule
“There are only two people in the world you need to impress: your 5 year old self and your 80 year old self.” I heard this quote on Lavendaire. What it means is, you need to make your inner child (your 5 year old self) Happy and when you are nearing your Death, that person (your 80 year old Self) needs to be at peace and proud of what Life he/she has created. So instead of focusing on people's opinion, just start focussing on these 2 people and you will be much more at peace.
I will end with a quote by Jennifer Aniston, "It is impossible to satisfy everyone and I suggest we all stop trying."
What is your go to tool for not getting bothered by people's opinion? Which one is your favourite tool among the ones listed above. Comment below and share your knowledge.