As a girl of the 1950s and growing up in a small town in Jamaica, I was constantly reminded of the need to be conscious of other people’s opinions.
“What will people say?” “What will people think?” “You know, people don’t appreciate that.” Who were these ‘people’ my mother was concerned about and why?
It was ingrained in me to be concerned about what people think and avoid offending them. In my story of The Red Dress (below), the opinions of the matrons of our town clearly mattered to my mother. It was only my love for my beloved Cousin Vie at the age of 12, that gave me the courage to defy what others thought.
How about you? Were you raised to be concerned or worry about what people think? You may believe that those formative years no longer have an impact, but they could be impacting your life and business all the way into adulthood.
5 Reasons You Should Be Concerned About People’s Opinions
Do you find yourself constantly doubting your decisions? Do you worry about other people’s reactions to your actions or opinions?
I acknowledge freely that that are several reasons why we should be concerned about the impact of our actions on others. Here are just five of them.
- Do our actions represent our core values?
- Do our actions align with how we’d like to be perceived by others?
- Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying that your Personal Brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. If you’re a business owner, what you say and do will affect your personal brand. What do people say about you when you’re not in the room?
- Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about it, you’ll do things differently.” Your reputation is at stake.
- In your relationships with your clients, you must take the time to understand their personality or behavioral styles and how they want to be communicated with. Being others-focused is essential to growing personal relationships, your business, and your network.
So, while we will not obsess over what others think, we cannot completely ignore other people’s opinions.
Are People’s Opinions Holding You Back?
Worrying about what others think and feel about you is a normal part of our DNA. As humans, even if we are introverts, we thrive on love and connection, an essential human need.
Studies show there’s a reward center in our brain that’s activated when we’re given a compliment. Even if you just sense other people’s recognition of your hard work, your brain fires up that reward center.
So, we feel good about ourselves when we’re accepted. Yet, we can’t always be accepted and liked by everyone at all times.
Here is where problems begin. We try to be someone we’re not or change our thoughts, perceptions, and lifestyle to fit people’s expectations. We give others power over our lives and how we should live it. Consequently, we lose out on being who we truly are.
After that, things go downhill and start spiraling out of control. Being stuck in that mind frame can be destructive to you and those around you. It’s an unproductive path to follow, which will likely leave tattered relationships and do damage to your self-esteem.
How Can You Stop Worrying About What People Think?
Before you take any constructive action, take some time alone to identify where you may have made some choices that do not reflect who you are, but your desire to please others.
Then, it’s time to step up and take some actionable steps. You owe it to yourself to share the real you with the world. Just know that people can sense when we’re not being authentic, and this will repel, rather than draw them to us.
Here are four simple, yet effective, ways to help you break this vicious cycle of unduly worrying about what people think.
1. Focus on What’s Important
Has someone said something unkind about you? Avoid dwelling on it and allowing it to fester. Many times that person won’t recall what they said in about ten minutes. Plus, what they say reflects who they are as a person. If you think about it, it actually has very little to do with you.
In other words, their perceptions of you come from them. And you’re not responsible for how they feel or what they think, neither can you change any of it. So, why waste your time fretting over something you have no control over?
Instead, channel that energy into something productive. You can learn a new skill, take up a class, or pick up an old hobby. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you enjoy.
Below are some things more worthy of your time than worrying about obsessing about what people think:
- Spend quality time with friends and family
- Give someone a genuine smile. Do something courteous or kind for someone
- Surround yourself with people who encourage and support you
- Volunteer in your community
- Take a walk through the park
- Show gratitude for seemingly small things, as well as the big things.
2. Highlight Your Accomplishments
We’ve all been through difficult times in our lives; some more than others. At the same time, we’ve all accomplished one thing or another.
It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose or elaborate. It just has to mean something to you, like filing your taxes on time or making home-cooked meals for an entire week. Be proud of yourself and all the hard work you put in.
You can even write down these accomplishments and hang them up on your fridge or vanity mirror. Then every time you catch a glimpse of one of your achievements, say to yourself, “I did that!” Say it over and over until your subconscious takes it in.