[NOTE: This is Part One of a 5-part series: “To-DON’T List: 5 Things To NOT Do If You Want To Be Happy.”]
We’ve all used To-Do Lists at some point to keep us on-track when life gets especially complex (or to remember the boring tasks we’d rather forget). But to actually accomplish your dreams and goals – and to feel mentally and emotionally peaceful and fulfilled while dealing with the rigors of life here on earth – a To-DON’T List is required: Today we cover the first one on the list…
“Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.” — Lao Tzu
Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat because you realized you pronounced ‘linguine’ wrong on your date? Or maybe your body goes through early menopause whenever you think of that time you wore UGGS outside the house – and someone you know caught you in the act! Do you cringe every time you think about how nervous you were during that job interview where you said “Um” 20+ times?
Worrying what others think about us is a nightmare of a Mind Loop – because it can lead down a rabbit hole where you begin questioning your entire self-worth. Repeated enough, this Mind Loop has the ability to steal your power and joy in life by dissolving the courage necessary to learn new skills or put yourself out there to create amazing life experiences.
Being Liked = Survival of the Species
Your desire to be liked connects all the way back to your Stone Age ancestors. For our species to survive, we needed to stay alive. And the best way to do that was to belong to a group, where everyone could hunt together, stave off predators together, and have sex together. If you were rejected by the group, you could easily die. So it’s no wonder we’re worried what other people think about us.
The problem is: What other people think about you is out of your control.
So what are you supposed to do?
Here are 5 Strategies To Stop Stressing About What Others Think About You
1) Awareness Is Key
Catching the worry in the act is always the first step (De-Looping Step #1: Detect). While this is easier said than done (since negative thinking and worrying are so unconscious and habitual), make the intention to detect it as soon as possible, and as often as possible.
Then see it for what it is:
• a negative Mind Loop in the making
• a big stressor on your body, mind, and spirit
• a distraction from what actually is important to you (productivity, self esteem, connections with others, creativity)
• and a sure-fire way to take a sharp detour away from happiness and inner peace.
Not exactly something you want to ignore or keep on your To-Do List.
2) Label It
I don’t care if you call it a “Mind Loop,” “negative thought,” “unreasonable worry,” or “Aunt Booby-Trap.” Butgive it a name. By naming the negative thought, you detach yourself from it: You are you, and the worry is just a thought. Labeling it allows you to take a deep breath and interrupt a self-esteem-crushing Mind Loop from potentially spiraling you down.
3. Practice Self-Love / Mind Loop Mantras
Consciously turn on self-love whenever you feel embarrassed, rejected, or judged (whether perceived or real). Appreciating your beautiful self – including loving your flaws and imperfections to whatever degree you can – is a potent antidote to caring what others think about you.
One of my favorite de-looping techniques is Mind Loop Mantras (De-Looping Step 3: Detour). Mind Loop Mantras are positive Mind Loops that, when repeated throughout the day, shift your thinking and mood.
A great Mantra for this worry-trap is: “I am enough! Exactly as I am!” Or how about: “I am weird and wonderful… and I love that I’m unique!”
Try taking a walk while repeating the mantra in your head, connecting the rhythm of your steps with the rhythm of the words. NOTICE how much better you feel after just a few minutes of feeding your mind with love and support.
4. It Ain’t Even About You!
People are so wrapped up in themselves and wondering what everyone else is thinking about them, that most of the time they aren’t even paying attention to you! We create stories about why she didn’t smile back, why they didn’t choose me for the project, why they snickered exactly when I scratched my nose. Yet almost every time, our stories are incorrect.
The next time you’re worried what someone is thinking about you, ask yourself these 2 questions (De-Looping Step #4: De-Story):
• “Does the story I’m telling myself about this situation make me feel happier, more peaceful, more confident?”
• “Is it at least possible that person’s actions or words have nothing to do with me? What is a BETTER STORY I could tell myself?
Now let’s say you did make a Big Embarrassing Flub, and that other person actually did notice it and are now judging you for it. What then?
Their reaction actually speaks volumes about them – not about you.
Here’s how to really get this: You’re speaking in front of an audience. Some people are smiling and nodding yes as you speak; some people are sneering, or glaring at you with their arms crossed. In both cases, you’re giving the same talk, saying the same corny jokes, and making the same weird facial expressions. And yet some people are loving it, while others are hating it (and supposedly hating you). I repeat: It’s not about you.
5. Redirect That Powerful Worrying Energy Into Something Productive
Ever notice how exhausted you are after a day of worrying and looping? That’s because worrying uses up a tremendous amount of time and energy. How about making this deal with yourself: Every time you catch yourself looping about what someone is thinking of you… use that as a cue to redirect that energy to take a step outside your comfort zone, toward something you’re excited about (De-Looping Step 9: Do).
That might mean finally asking that gorgeous person out, or writing three pages of that book you’ve always wanted to write. Or it could be something smaller, like reserving a table “for one” at your favorite restaurant.
The point is, all that worrying is powerful fuel you can add to your productivity fire. So redirect it! Your life will be so much more rich and rewarding.
You Have a Choice
We can’t control which thoughts swim into the waters of our minds, but we have a choice whether or not to hoist them onboard. That power is yours.
If you want to increase your success and your level of happiness, interrupt any worries about what people think when you occasionally stutter or how you like to wear a fanny pack or that you burned the only dish you were supposed to bring for Thanksgiving dinner.
Life is simply too precious and too short to spend time worrying what others think about Awesome You.
If you got a useful nugget from this article, please feel free to share it on Twitter or Facebook or whatever your fave platform is!
Here’s to your happiness!
Author of the #1 Amazon Kindle Bestseller, How To Stop Negative Thoughts
Contributing author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller, The Transformative Power of Near-Death Experiences