“Hell is other people.” John Paul Sartre
Well said! Wouldn’t life be much better if we could brush off others’ opinions of us like a piece of unwanted fluff on a jacket? But I realise it is not that easy and I have given three tips to help improve this skill.
I have intentionally written “not completely” in brackets because:
a) it is impossible to completely stop caring unless you are 80 years old and you lived a fabulous life; and
b) it is not completely in our interest to disregard others’ opinions, unless it is pure negativity in which case it should not only be discarded but totally ignored.
I used to be someone which such thin skin. I would take it personally if someone moved away from me on a crowded bus because a set of two seats had freed up. Can you imagine?
Here are my top three tips for caring less about what other people think of you:
1. Remember that everyone is secretly self-obsessed
Just think about your own life for a second. Who is the star of the show? You of course! It is the same with everyone in this world. People are mainly concerned with themselves. The most thought they will give you might be a split second, if at all. They certainly won’t be pondering why you might be doing a certain thing or behaving in a certain way. They have a life to live too and we all know what that entails. So, if you fucked up your presentation rest assured that the audience has already forgotten about it by the time they have got home.
2. We are all going to die
You might think this is a bit of a grim outlook but there is no getting away from reality. It probably comes from my Arabic background – there is a much more open attitude to talking about death in the Arabic world than in Western culture, where almost everything is done to hide the fact that we are all headed for the same ultimate destination.
This isn’t meant to be nihilistic, I find that by embedding this thought makes me more motivated to spend my day well and too care less about what people may think of me. When you have this viewpoint, your focus sharpens and you spend less time thinking about and interacting with people that drain your energy.
3. They don’t pay your rent
If you follow me on Instagram @thecoachingdiva you would know that this saying is one of my favourites.
If you are spending your time wondering what Jenny, Jason or John think about you, just ask yourself the following: “If I get myself into deep financial trouble would this person pay my rent?”
If the answer is no then why on earth would you care what this person thinks about you? Now, if it is your boss we are talking about then you can technically say that they are paying your rent, at least indirectly. But they are getting your hard work in exchange which is hopefully making their business grow as a result.
I am talking about the people that would give you that money freely without expecting anything in return. These are the people you can rely on and whose opinions you should care about.
I have found these three tips helpful and trained my brain to remember them automatically every time I catch myself caring about what a total stranger is thinking of me. Try them the next time you can feel yourself being a little bit too self-conscious.