Our problem isn’t caring what other people think.
It’s important to care about the opinions of certain people in certain areas of our life. We want people to think we’re attractive, talented, and trustworthy.
Everyone cares about their reputation. There’s nothing wrong with this. A good reputation can open doors. A great reputation can keep you out of trouble.
On top of that, everyone cares what their friends and family think of them. These things aren’t going to change anytime soon.
In general, we want people to assume that we’re good, law-abiding citizens.
Our real problem is caring what people think who don’t care about us. We want to stop worrying about the approval from strangers.
We’re not at our best when we do things only for approval. This is fine when we do it for the people we care about. It’s a problem when we do it for people we won’t ever see again.
But first, let me clarify something that a lot of people get confused about. Not caring what other people think is not the same thing as apathy.
Not Caring What Others Think Vs. Apathy
The goal isn’t to stop caring what other people think because you’ve accepted being a loser. The goal is to be so busy crushing life that you don’t have time to care about the opinions of random people.
After all, a lot of homeless people and drug addicts have given up caring what other people think of them. It’s lazy and weak to lower your standards for living so you don’t have to work hard to meet them.
You get less to worry about, but you also get less respect. When you go this route, you won’t have to worry about what anyone thinks of you because no one will be thinking of you at all.
This is not the way we want to do it. The goal is to have a free mind and a great life. We want the best of both worlds.
We want the burden of performance without the burden of approval. We want a great reputation without thinking about how to have a great reputation.
This piece outlines 3 simple steps you can take to help you care less but achieve more.
Commit to your own values
The world tries to make you think and act in a certain way. To protect yourself from peer pressure, you need your own values, morals, and goals.
It’s hard to care what other people think if you don’t live by their value system.
A lot of people are against religion, but religion is powerful because it does this so well. Religion gives people a set of values and expectations. Furthermore, religion unites everyone via shared rituals. These rituals reinforce the values, morals, and ethics of the religion.
I’m not advocating for or against religion. I’m only pointing out the power you have when you live for a set of values. This is the power you give away when you care about the opinion of strangers.
People who practice religion only care about the approval of other people in the religion. Not only do they not care what anyone else thinks, they think other values are wrong! They live by their own rules.
When you live by your own rules, you don’t care what anyone thinks unless they live by those rules too. Living this way sheds the desire for approval and improves your life.
With that said, creating your own rules and values is not the difficult part. It’s easy to pick the best parts of a system or group of people to emulate. Any person, event, or lifestyle that you get inspiration from has the power to make you better.
The challenge is sticking to those values in the face of herd mentality and societal group think.
As you make your own rules, make sure you find other people who have similar values. This will be your tribe. They don’t need to agree with you on every minute detail, but your tribe will share the same overarching goal.
This is an incredible piece of irony:
Finding like minds makes the transition to individuality easier.
Focus on the process
The outcome is never guaranteed, but the process is yours. The outcome you worked so hard for can be taken from you in many ways.
You can work hard and get robbed, fall in love and get cheated on, or do well without getting any recognition. When you do things for the outcome, you care about something that’s beyond your control.
It’s in the name. The outcome, as in outside of you. People’s approval is outside of you, but the process of working on yourself is internal.
Focus on proper execution and discipline demands attention and dedication. These are the elements of the process. A focus on the process makes it difficult to worry about what other people will think of the outcome.
The process is immune to other people’s opinions. It’s the private place to make mistakes, grow, and take care of the only thing that matters: what you can control.
Yes, other people can critique what you’re doing, but not what you’re thinking and your objectives. Your focus is on the process. The process is your own style of learning, development, and exploration.
Another way to look at the idea of “focusing on the process” is only doing what’s important to you. When you only focus on the things that matter to you, you naturally focus on the process anyway. This is because you’re more concerned with getting better than getting attention.
You aren’t doing things just to get approval. You’re doing them because they hold meaning to you. They get you closer to what you want out of life; not what other people or society says you should want out of life.
This is the natural extension of committing to your own rules and values.
Always add value
Whenever I mention not caring what other people think, someone always brings up “reputation maintenance”. They argue that you should care what some people think, because those people matter.
I’ve always said that you should care what certain people think. For example, you should worry about being in good standing with close friends and family. If you aren’t self-employed, you should worry about what your boss thinks of you. If you are, then give thought to what your customers and clients think.
That’s where it ends. You should not spend too much energy maintaining here; especially if they don’t share the same values.
With that said, you should have values that make you someone people are proud to know. They don’t have to agree with your perspective on everything, but they should respect you. Respect is the natural result of being a valuable person.
When you’re always adding value, you won’t need to give much thought to what anyone thinks; family or otherwise.
Consider this: what if you develop a code of values that makes you destructive and selfish? This would be harmful to your family and to yourself.
To keep this from happening, always focus on adding value. When you make it a point to add value, you’ll be contributing something meaningful. The feeling you get from this will outweigh any desire you have for external approval.
If you act from your core values, focus on the process of adding value, you’ll always improve a situation.
A Summary of 3 Ways Of To Stop Caring What Other People Think
- Commit to your own values
- Focus on the process
- Always add value
If you follow these steps, you’ll free yourself from the bondage of seeking approval.
It won’t be because you arrogantly believe that you’re better than everyone else.
It won’t be because you’re blind to your worst and most destructive qualities.
It won’t be because you’ve settled into a life of mediocrity and conformity,
Rather, you won’t care because you’re too busy improving yourself and your surroundings.