5 Signs You Care Too Much About What Others Think Of You (And The Solution)

Concerned Woman1. You focus almost exclusively on how others treat you.

If I knew a wise man, I think he would say, “you define you.” It’s a certain sign of insecurity to soak up your identity from what the world tells you about yourself. Each person is going to have a baseline opinion on you, according to the chemistry of your personalities and values and their prejudices. This baseline opinion is not reflective of your quality or worth, but of the aforementioned complex variables.

To focus on how others treat you is problematic in two ways. First, you’re putting a lot of emphasis on things you can’t control. Second, you’re not putting emphasis on what you can control – YOU. You can and should define yourself and let the world take you or leave you. Even the most extreme personalities can find a niche in this world.

People respond well to authentic, genuine people, even if they are odd (We love you, Tim Burton).

2. You can’t say no.

“No.”

Some people are terrified of the word. But “no” is just as important as “yes.” The reason for not saying no when you want to boils down to not wanting to disappoint the asker. Of course we prefer to hear “yes,” but not if it’s insincere! If I ask a girl out with romance in mind and she says yes only to be polite, she is cruelly leading me on and wasting our time.

3. You boast at every chance you get.

I was at a restaurant once with friends, and this one guy at the table had been to so many places. Shoot he may have even spent a night or two in Antarctica. But he really needed to tell us about it. All of it. 

Yes, yes, we get it. We’re nobodies and you’ve seen the world.

We generally boast to make ourselves feel better and to impress those around us, but it can easily backfire. If the people around you perceive that you’re purposefully boasting, like when you make unsolicited comments about your greatness, they’ll see you as insecure and annoying. In addition, boasting of great feats often makes the people around us feel inferior. When you make people feel inferior, they’re going to like you less, not more.

It’s acceptable to tell people what you’ve accomplished and who you are, especially if they’re asking, but if you always feel like you need to prove to the world that you’re a great human being, then maybe you care a bit too much about coming across as a great human being. Instead, simply be a great human being, and people will notice. 

4. You aim to please… everyone!

People pleasers are the worst – not for others, but for themselves. They are pleasant, but fake, for to please everyone else is to sacrifice yourself. It isn’t complicated why this happens, because to make everyone happy, you must adapt your behavior to them. Yes, to be authentic means you’re not going to be everyone’s favorite person.

There are some people out there who have warm, attractive personalities. They may garner the affection of most, but not everyone likes warm, attractive personalities. Some people prefer rough around the edges, intense personalities. With nearly 7 billion people on the planet, we have 7 billion different sets of preferences. Good luck trying to match up with all of them!

It’s ok if you don’t click with some people. That’s life. Don’t bend over backwards to “fix” it. If they’re your in-laws, you might need to move to another country. 🙂

5. You make decisions based on what’s expected of you, instead of what your heart is telling you.

Oh my, oh my. I saved the worst for last. That tiny little sentence up there has ruined so many lives. Don’t think that you’ve safely cleared it, either. It’s so pervasive that nobody gets out clean. The massive amount of external influence on us is inescapable. We are all under the influence to different degrees, so the goal is to search inside, and as you clear away the debris of living in this world, rediscover the real you.

I heard yesterday that to a worm in horseradish sauce, the world is horseradish sauce. People laugh when others talk about “finding themselves” in a far away place, but this is a great idea! When you’re removed from your world, you’re able to see it better. You’re able to see yourself not covered in horseradish sauce for the first time.

Life is seriously short, and to waste it by accommodating the demands and expectations of family and friends, no matter how special they are to you, is a really bad move.

A great test to differentiate you from everything else is to imagine it is the year 2200 AD. Sorry, you’re dead in this example (barring crazy scientific breakthroughs). Let it soak in that you won’t be around. With that scenario in mind, what are you doing now that doesn’t seem worthwhile? What should you do instead? What life would you like to create in the time you have left?

The Key Factor In All Five

If there is a single elixir to save you from caring too much about what others think, which was hinted at in all of them, it’s this…

Know who you are and where you’re going!

The man who doesn’t know himself looks elsewhere for that information. He looks to others. A dependence develops and he habitually acts in ways to get better feedback and more respect from people. Unlike the great men of history, his identity is not sourced from beliefs and values, but from his social status.

Once this man knows himself, he still needs a path to take, lest he fall prey to stagnancy. It wasn’t enough for George Washington and America’s founding fathers to believe in freedom, they needed to act on that belief to make it meaningful. And my goodness was it meaningful!

I’m merely 26 years old, but the path I’ve taken over the last several years has taken me so much closer to the goal – knowing who I am and what I’m going to do about it. This blog is a part of that realization, as is the mysterious project I’m currently working on. It’s no coincidence that last year I was able to say no confidently despite the harsh consequences I knew I would face.

When you know who you are and where you’re going…

  1. You realize that you have a lot more about yourself to learn, and tend to be more interested in knowing others and sharing what you know of yourself, than worrying about what people think of you. If people don’t like you, that’s ok, because you’re a constant work in progress. 🙂
  2. You know what you’re saying “yes” to.  Saying no becomes much easier.
  3. You won’t want to boast because you know the best is yet to come. People who boast, often do so because they feel their best days are behind them, and they’re holding on to the glory of the past. People who know themselves and their path are going to speak of the excitement of what’s to come, rather than what has been.
  4. James Bond doesn’t have time to apologize to the butler he knocks over on his way to saving the world. Neither will you. It would, however, be nice to write him an apology letter later if you have time.
  5. Your decisions are razor sharp, focused, and intentional towards your chosen path. If it is inconsequential to meet a request from a friend or family member, you’ll oblige. You know exactly where the line is between your dreams and what everyone else wants of you….

…and James Bond couldn’t get you to cross it.

 

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.

Steve H. @ Improved Public Speaking

I think like everything this is a balance. You definitely can care too much what others think. And you can also care too little. Nobody can see themselves objectively. We need to take into account feedback from others.

But we need to know who we’re listening to and whether they’re a fair judge. And we need to be the ones who make the ultimate decisions based on our values after taking in all the feedback.

When we teach public speaking, this is important. We always take in feedback or videotape speeches since we need to know how we are seen from an outside objective view. But you can’t just blindly try to please everyone. The information is needed but the choices ultimately are yours.

Stephen Guise

I think that the overwhelming majority care too much about what our fellow man thinks of us rather than too little – maybe it’s built in to our DNA.

What’s key is to be confident in yourself enough so that you can accept outward feedback without being defensive or naive. It’s when we don’t know ourselves that we don’t handle feedback properly – because it penetrates right down to our core. If I don’t know how smart I am, and this person just said I’m dumb…oh no!

I love your idea of videotaping your speeches. My work involves a lot of social interaction, and I end up greeting hundreds of strangers a day. So one day I decided to prop up my camera phone and take video of myself – because I’ve never seen myself greet someone before.

Well, it turns out that a person stopped by to chat. I thought I had hit the pause button, but it was still recording. Then he NOTICED the phone was taking live footage and made a comment about it. I’m not easily embarrassed, but this was pretty embarrassing! Because this guy knew I was filming myself say hi to him, which is objectively weird. Hahaha, oh well.

Scrollwork

You got me on #1. I had never before considered that taking offense at how I’m treated can be traced to caring too much what other people think about me. But there’s truth there.

On the job I treat even the jerks with professional courtesy. I expect the same—and that’s really not asking a whole lot because I don’t behave like a diva even when I’m mad. Maybe that’s where I got hung up. I don’t care what you think of me, I just ask that you treat me with respect, just as I do you. But, as you noted, I have no control over anyone but myself.

Stephen Guise

I like your philosophy as it mirrors my own in many ways, but yeah, it’s a lost cause to try and control what other people do. I believe if you do everything you can do on your end, that you probably won’t be treated poorly much in the first place, and if you are anyways, it’s unproductive to get upset about it.

There are a slew of ways to disarm someone treating you poorly too, and it usually involves the “poison” of treating them well. It’s like pouring acid on them, but in a nice way. 🙂

Brian Lee

I like what you said about when you know where you want to go, that’s when you realize the what you need to work on for yourself to get there. I turned 25 three months ago, and I’ve realize where I want to go for certain sections of my life. For most of my life until this point I was at point A and wasn’t interested or even knew what my point B was. Now I do. But now I see the amount of work that needs to be done and it is overwhelming.

Slavko Desik

Aiming to please everyone, and not being able to say “No” are habits, in a way, that must be realized for what they are- a handicap. Because doing those things we being “friendly” or being “good” on the expense of limiting our improvement. And the truth is that excessive friendliness is only the mark of insecure personality. The worst thing is that we adopt this as a habit, and it threatens to become a part of who we are. I was like that to an extent, but realizing it, I changed completely. Integrity is a crucial thing to have, and the feeling is great too.

Stephen Guise

Well, you’ve taken the first step, and in that comment holds the solution to your second problem. If you’re overwhelmed, you’re probably zoomed too far out so that your mind thinks, “Ok, I need to build a house.” That sounds tough as one challenge, but you can do each individual step required to get it done.

Or maybe you just have a lot of houses to build. In that case, prioritize and focus! That’s what has worked best for me. It took me a while to decide on what to prioritize. Best of luck Brian!

Stephen Guise

I concur. Being “fake nice” isn’t a benefit to others either. That’s awesome that you were able to change. I made that change too. Now my problem is more that I can be too critical of others, but at least it’s me and I’m aware of it, so I can improve it. 🙂

Mannie

Reading this list, I have realized that 4 out of 5 points on this list is the reason my social life sucks. Boasring is not an issue for me, because I simply have nothing to the boast about. Ii’m ready for change, and I believe change will take place when I stop caring about what people think of me.

Scdoring

Great article. I just wanted you to know I appreciated it very much..

Stephen Guise

Mannie,

You’re right. Caring too much about what others think of you is a social nightmare. It puts you in a bind by controlling your mind and actions. I think if you find out who you are, what you’re all about, and what you bring to the world, you’ll be happier and have a better social life.

Stephen Guise

I’m very pleased to hear that. Thank you for letting me know.

Alex

thanks very much, this is very great article indeed! i saved it to my favourite. ty

Stephen Guise

You’re welcome Alex. 🙂

Earl

Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou. #5 is currently a huge concern for me…Life keeps leaving signposts like this explaining to me what I need to do, yet my mind is screaming for validation from my fellow humans. Its such a hard thing, to overcome the conditioning of our youth and society and blaze your own trail when YOU try to hold you back because you’re so wrapped up in public opinion.

Stephen Guise

yourwelcomeyourwelcomeyourwelcome!

I can relate, Earl. It is very difficult not to adopt others’ expectations as your own desires. It might help to source big decisions back to a core reason. If it’s from you, the reason will be very compelling. Like for me, I want to make a living online so that I can live anywhere at anytime and still work and make money. But when I think about getting a “normal” job, I would be doing it to have more financial stability, but also to fulfill the expectations of my parents and others.

So I know what I want, but I will take a job if I have to in order to support myself. But the difference is, when I’m working in that job, I will see it as temporary and actively work to get where I want. I’m doing my best not to confuse the comfort of security and the pleasure of meeting others’ expectations with what I truly want.

Phil

Hey Stephen..
This is a great article… I can definitely say I can relate to this, sadly.. I’m not the most confident person and I know I care too much about what others think or WILL think about me about certain things…
What can I do to free my mind and not care what others think? How can I become free of this? It’s really stressful because I’m most paranoid when I go out with friends to the clubs… My friends, for example, can approach girls without a problem… While with me I can seem to do it, I get way to nervous and over think things.. What if I mess up? Make a fool out of myself? What If I get rejected… All these questions and more come into my head and it’s really overwhelming… I just wish I was like the other guys, as confident as they are with these things… This is probably my biggest worry… Why am I different from the other guys? Why is it me that lack all of the confidence that they have? Please help me out with this…

Stephen Guise

Hi Phil, this is a multi-faceted issue, so I’ll do my best to list some suggestions.

1. I think you’re putting everything in the wrong order. Why do you have to be confident to approach a girl? Confidence comes from experience and self-assurance and you get those by taking action before you feel ready. Just do it. But there are some techniques that can help you to take those scary steps. Please see this article I wrote about confidence (it’s a really fun read based on James Bond – http://www.dumblittleman.com/2013/09/the-james-bond-guide-to-ultimate.html).

You’ll see in that article that assuming confidence stances for just 2 minutes was shown to increase testosterone 20% and decrease cortisol 25%. That means your confidence increases. Cortisol is the stress chemical in your body. When you’re looking at a pretty girl and trying to get the confidence to talk to her, your cortisol levels are increasing. This shows that acting confident despite feeling otherwise can actually make you more confident. Also, read that article.

2. You’ll stop worry about others when you’re comfortable with yourself, but in order for that to happen, you can’t look to others for approval. Please see my article here about why you must like yourself – http://stephenguise.com/beware-self-absorption-why-you-must-like-yourself/.

3. You could use some rejection therapy. Go out one day (with a friend if you need support) and make it your goal to get rejected by 10 girls. Rejection is not as scary as you think it is. This is a great video on that topic. The guy went out and asked people crazy things for 100 days (to get rejected a lot) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFWyseydTkQ

4. To sum all of this up, you’re scared and looking to others because you’re playing it safe. You’re trying to play a perfect game and get through life without rejection. I just had a business fail, but Deep Existence is going great. That’s just to say, it isn’t how many times you fail or get rejected, it’s the one yes you get from a girl and the success you get from trying. Lower the bar for yourself. Allow yourself the possibility of embarrassment and in time, it will stop being scary.

5. Colonel Sanders was rejected 1,009 times before someone wanted his chicken recipe. Can’t you allow yourself to be rejected once? Rejection doesn’t feel good, but I know your mindset and it’s not as big or bad as you think it is. You can walk up to any girl and force out a canned phrase like, “would you like to hang out with me?” She says yes or no, and that’s it.

6. With the above advice, you can begin to train your mind to let you live a more carefree life. But it’s a process. I used to be painfully shy and I’ve changed to the point where I’m comfortable in nearly any social situation and confident.

7. The biggest takeaway is to take action first. DON’T try to get motivated or muster up the courage. Take action even if your arms are shaking and you’re blacking out a little bit. Force it!

Stephen Guise

And to answer your question, you’re different because you’re not willing to get rejected. They are. They care less than you do.

There’s nothing wrong with you. This problem is usually a learned mindset that it’s wrong to make mistakes (that school teaches us). Mistakes, rejection, and failure aren’t wrong, they’re a big part of trying!

As you try to overcome this, pay really close attention to any progress you make, and that will show you that it IS possible to climb out of this mindset.

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