When I was 13 years old, I thought about ending my own life. At that age, many of my friends were starting to date boys. I quickly realized that I didn’t want to date boys; I was gay.
Because being gay in the early 80s wasn’t as accepted as it is now, I couldn’t think of any way to end my pain but to end my life. One day, when I was at my lowest low, I saw my cousin’s Joan Jett “I Love Rock & Roll” album on a table at my Grandma’s house.
I’d never heard of Joan Jett, but when I saw her, I saw myself. I saw someone who wasn’t about the girly-girl stuff, someone who was hard-core rock and roll. That’s how I felt inside. She exuded confidence and made no apologies for who she was.
That day when I was 13 I made a huge life decision—to be exactly like that. I’m pretty sure Joan Jett saved my life that day.
That pain I felt from feeling so far removed from my friends is one that a lot of people feel for one reason or another. It’s easy to understand why, as tribal beings, we long for the approval of others. Rejection made our ancestors cautious because rejection often equaled death.
While the need to belong is a primal need, caring too much about what others think can also have huge impacts on our own mental health. It can lead us to think that we’re a “bad person” for not “fitting in” with the expectations of others. This can create a paralyzing fear of being disliked and stop us from being who we were born to be.
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Why Caring What Other People Think Is Stopping You
While caring what other people think is a natural human instinct, caring too much can be detrimental to your mental health and really block your overall energy. When you restrict your actions based on the fear of people’s opinions, you’re muting your sense of self and limiting your true potential.
Additionally, because everyone’s sense of what’s “acceptable” is different, you’re sending confusing signals to yourself because you can’t please everyone. You may become stressed and indecisive, worrying about your actions pleasing one person while potentially displeasing another. It’s a no-win situation.
When you care too much about what others think, you limit your potential, restrict your actions, and dampen your sense of self. You’re constantly in a state of seeking approval and validation, which can be exhausting and detrimental to your mental health. But when you stop caring what other people think some awesome things can happen. Let’s dive into 10 of those awesome things now.
10 Things That Will Happen (Almost Instantly) When You Stop Caring What Other People Think
1. You Become the True Version of Yourself
When you constantly seek external validation and social approval, you often suppress your true thoughts, feelings, and desires to be accepted by others. You may compromise your core values and beliefs to please others and end up feeling disconnected from your own sense of self.
However, tuning out the opinions of others (particularly those who feel the need to share their opinions, even when you didn’t ask!) allows you to connect with your inner voice and act in alignment with your authentic self. You’re more likely to make decisions based on what you truly believe and want, rather than what you think will impress or please others.
2. You Gain Respect from Others
When you let go of the need for external approval and become more confident in yourself and your choices, you’re more likely to gain respect from others. This is because people are naturally drawn to those who are authentic and confident in their own skin.
When you’re confident in yourself, you project a positive energy that commands respect. You exude a sense of self-assurance that others find admirable, and you’re more likely to be taken seriously and viewed as a leader, role model, or authority figure.
In addition, when you’re authentic and true to yourself, you’re more likely to set boundaries and stand up for what you believe in. This shows others (especially judgmental people) that you have a strong sense of self-respect and self-worth and that you won’t compromise your values or beliefs for anyone.
3. You Attract Like-Minded People
Have you ever heard the saying, “You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are”? This is especially true when it comes to attracting healthy relationships.
When you stop caring what others think and become more authentic and true to yourself, you naturally attract people who share your personal values and beliefs. This is because people who are like-minded are often drawn to one another and form communities based on shared interests, values, and beliefs.
Being part of a community of like-minded individuals can be incredibly empowering and fulfilling. You have the opportunity to connect and build positive relationships with others who understand and appreciate you for who you truly are and who share your vision for the world.
4. You Become More Open-Minded
When you constantly seek external validation, you tend to limit yourself to the opinions and advice of people who may not have your best interest at heart. This can lead to a narrow-minded approach to life and a lack of openness to different perspectives and ideas.
However, when you stop caring what other people think and become more confident in yourself and your choices, you become more open-minded. You’re able to consider different perspectives and ideas without feeling threatened or defensive.
Being more open-minded allows you to learn and grow from new experiences and make genuine connections with people. You’re able to expand your knowledge and understanding of the world and develop empathy and compassion for those who are different from you.
5. You Experience More Freedom
When you’re constantly seeking approval from others, you may feel like you are living your life based on the expectations of those around you. Fear of judgment may make you feel pressured to conform to certain norms or pursue certain paths, even if they don’t align with your own values and desires.
However, when you stop caring what other people think and become more confident in yourself, you experience more freedom. You’re able to explore new opportunities and take risks without feeling weighed down by the opinions of others. You’re breaking the chains of other people’s opinions and that’s EXTREMELY liberating!
This newfound freedom allows you to pursue your passions and live life on your own terms. You’re able to take the time to discover what truly matters to you and what brings you joy and fulfillment.
6. You Become More Resilient
When my hero, Joan Jett, was rejected by record company after record company, she could’ve easily slumped over in a heap of self-pity and quit. Instead, she decided that if the record companies didn’t want her, she’d start her own record company! She decided that their opinions didn’t matter, and she believed in herself.
When you base your self-worth on the opinions of others, you may feel devastated by criticism or rejection. Even constructive criticism might feel like a personal attack, and it may be difficult to bounce back from setbacks and challenges.
However, when you stop caring what other people think and become more confident in yourself and your abilities, you become more resilient. You’re better able to handle criticism and rejection because you understand that they do not define you as a person.
Instead, you’re able to see criticism and rejection as opportunities for growth and learning. You’re able to take constructive feedback and use it to improve your skills and abilities. And when faced with rejection (justified or not), you’re able to move on and keep working toward your goals.
This resilience also allows you to take more risks and pursue more opportunities. You’re not held back by the fear of failure or the opinions of others, and you’re able to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
7. You Become More Adventurous
When you stop caring what other people think, you may become more adventurous because you feel freer to explore new experiences and opportunities that may have previously seemed out of reach.
Being more adventurous can lead to new and exciting opportunities, which can help you grow as a person. You may discover new passions and interests that you never knew you had, and you may learn more about yourself and what you are truly capable of.
Whether it’s trying a new hobby, traveling to a new destination, or taking on a new challenge, being more adventurous can help you expand your horizons and enrich your life in countless ways.
8. You Become More Accepting of Others
When you aren’t wasting mental energy comparing yourself to others or trying to fit in, you’re able to appreciate the diversity of people around you. You start to see the beauty in different perspectives, experiences, and lifestyles.
This increased acceptance can lead to deeper connections and personal relationships with others. You’re more open-minded and curious about others, and you are able to learn from their experiences and perspectives. You become less judgmental and more compassionate, which can help you build stronger and more meaningful relationships with others.
9. You Become More Empathetic
When you stop caring what others think, you become more empathetic toward others. You’re no longer solely focused on your own experiences and opinions and are able to tune in to the needs and feelings of those around you. This increased awareness and sensitivity can help you connect with others on a deeper level and build stronger interpersonal relationships.
Being more empathetic can also help you become a better listener and communicator. Having empathy will help you understand others’ perspectives and respond in a way that’s respectful and considerate of their feelings. This can help you navigate conflicts and challenges more effectively, and it can also help you support and encourage those around you in meaningful ways just by being a strong, positive person.
10. You Become More Grateful
When you stop caring what others think, you become more present and mindful. Instead of constantly worrying about how others perceive you, you can focus on the present moment and the things that truly matter to you. This increased awareness can help you find joy and beauty in the small things in life, from a beautiful sunset to a kind gesture from a friend.
As you become more appreciative of the present moment, you also become more grateful for the people and experiences in your life. You realize that life is a precious gift, and you start to treasure the moments you spend with your life partner, friends, and loved ones, and the things you do together.
With this gratitude may come a greater sense of living a purposeful life. It may also help you navigate challenges and setbacks with greater resilience and optimism. Embrace your authentic self and cultivate gratitude towards the people and experiences that make your life meaningful.
3 Ways to Stop Caring About What Other People Think
Since caring about what others think and being accepted is a primal need, it can be hard to shake—but not impossible. Try one (or all!) of these things to get started.
Journaling is a great tool that can help tease out anxieties you may not even realize you have. I like to journal as close to first getting up in the morning as possible because I find that my guard is down a bit more and I’ll write in a more free-flowing manner.
I also try to just keep writing without lifting the pen from the page. This can help me uncover hidden challenges I’m experiencing. For more on journaling, check out The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron.
2. Practice Self-Care Every Day
Another important step is to practice self-compassion. Be kind and understanding with yourself and recognize that it’s okay to make mistakes or receive criticism. Use positive self-talk and affirmations to build your self-confidence and self-esteem. Do something nice for yourself, even if it’s taking time to play a game or watch an episode of your favorite show.
3. Choose Your Tribe Wisely
I recently came across this quote that I absolutely LOVE:
You are allowed to change the price of what it costs to access you.
It’s so important to surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Seek out people who respect your values and beliefs, and distance yourself from those who bring you down or are overly critical of you. Sometimes that can be hard when it’s a family member or close friend, but you need to put yourself first.
Challenging negative thoughts is also key to stopping caring about what other people think. When you find yourself worrying about the opinions of others, ask yourself if those thoughts are true, helpful, or necessary. If not, replace them with positive affirmations or thoughts that reflect your authentic self.
And don’t be afraid to seek support if needed. Talking to a therapist or counselor can help you work through any underlying issues that may be contributing to your need for external validation. You are totally worth it.