When walking into a new group of people, do you often wonder what to say and stay quiet instead of acting natural and spontaneous?
Deep down, do you find yourself thinking:
- “What is this person going to think of me if I say this?”
- “They’re probably not going to want to hear about this.”
- “If I go talk to her, she’ll blow me off and everyone will see.”
If so, it’s probably because you’re so concerned with NOT screwing up, you forget to have fun and express who you really are. This was a problem I had (and that I’m still working to improve) that kept me from getting the most out of my life.
But what if you didn’t care so much about all that? What if disapproval from others simply rolled off your back? What if, instead of trying so hard to avoid rejection, you simply didn’t give a damn about it anymore?
That’s why learning how to not care what people think of you is important.
Here are some suggestions to help you get there.
Remember You Can’t Please Everyone
Think about this…
Now think…do you really know him?
No, you don’t. So can you honestly say what kind of person he is? Probably not. But the thing is, we ALL do this every day. People make snap judgments depending on their upbringing, values and more.
In the same way, people judge what you say and do and how you look based on their prejudices and pre-conceptions. There is NO way you can control this. So while one person might think your Age of Apocalypse comic collection is lame, another will think it’s great (me for one).
The point is, realize you can’t control what other people think of you. You’ll drive yourself insane in the attempt. You can influence it somewhat, but in the end not being yourself to try and please others is not worth it.
Choose Your Own Values Then Live Up to Them
You know what feels great?
Living in line with standards you’ve carefully considered and set for yourself. In fact, this is a main part of healthy self-esteem.
It’s also an important factor in not caring what others think of you. Because what many of us do is judge our worth based on the opinions of others.
Yet, if you can look at yourself and see a man or woman who holds true (mostly) to values you deem important, you have a more solid measure of worth. Because that’s the kind of worth YOU control, not others.
Get Your Expectations Right
You need to consider if you have unrealistic expectations of what people will and won’t accept.
What I’ve found is many reserved and socially awkward people tend to predict horrible outcomes for their social interactions. Maybe this is because you experienced several embarrassing or painful encounters in your past. Maybe it’s because you’re overly negative.
Whatever the reason, if this is your mindset, you’re going to be fearful of other’s criticism of you. Not only that, if you’re expecting people to dislike you and waiting for your conversations to turn sour, you’ll probably get that result.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy.
So next time you’re dreaming up some nightmare scenario about talking to someone, stop yourself and consider how things could go right.
Do the “Unacceptable”
To stop caring what people think, you need to prove to yourself rejection is alright. Because in the end, simply understanding the concept isn’t enough. You need to experience it.
So this means you need to do things like:
- Stare at someone until they look away first
- Do something silly in public like singing loudly
- Reveal your beliefs to someone who holds opposite morals
(In fact, for more great ideas for facing rejection first hand, check out Jia Jiang’s awesome blog.)
It’s about growing a tolerance to disapproval just as a body builder develops tolerance to progressively heavier weights. This way, you fear rejection less and act authentically and without neediness.
That’s when people start lining up to be a part of your life.
Just remember, fear of rejection is not something you switch off. It takes time and effort. And while you may never grow to like rejection (we all want to be loved and accepted after all), you CAN learn to roll with it so it doesn’t stop you from living.
Best of luck!
(Image courtesy of Jason Rogers via flickr)