image source: cowbite
We are programmed by society and the media to care about what everyone else thinks, and to always try to fit in. This process is very automated in our brain that we don’t even stop to question it most of the time. This obviously is a big roadblock to success because it prevents us from being who we really want to be and instead we become products of our society and surroundings.
A great example of this is how for the average man, asking a woman out on a date is a big deal. Because if she turns him down, he’ll feel a little hurt or foolish. Why is that? Because he cares about what she thinks of him.
The problem with caring about what others think is that we can’t control it in the first place. They’ll always be people that like you, and people that dislike you. Actually the most disliked people tend to be really wealthy or famous like many of todays movie stars and music artists who are constantly being bad mouthed in the media. Is part of their success due to not caring about the publics opinions? Maybe, I’m not sure, but it’s food for thought. More importantly, caring about others opinion of you assumes that we are all alike. It assumes that we were all born in the same towns, cities, or countries, went to the same schools, had the same parents, had the same circumstances in life etc. This is why what anyone thinks of you is usually based on superficial judgments they made even if they are a good friend or relative.
The long term effects of caring about what others think of us is leading a disappointing unfulfilling life. What’s worse than looking back on your life and realizing that most of the choices you made were strongly influenced by the opinions and judgments of others instead of your own preferences?
Why do we care what others think of us? While one can come up with many good sounding reasons, deep down there are two main reasons. One main reason is usually some sort of insecurity. When we are insecure about our lifestyles, our choices, or our actions, it’s easier to just go along with the flow, and try to please everyone. Otherwise, if we decide to stop caring what everyone thinks of us, and live life however we please, we will start receiving criticism and start generating a lot of attention. A great example of this is feeling too insecure to ask your boss for a raise. You feel that if you ask for a raise you might give you boss the wrong idea, and since your insecure about your quality of work, thinking it isn’t all that great to start with, you decide it’s better to just be quiet instead of generating a lot of attention. The other main reason is a scarcity mentality. A scarcity mentality is where we think there is a limited set number of resources, opportunities or options. Going back to the “asking for a raise” example, an employee might feel that if he starts asking and demanding too much maybe he’ll get fired, and not be able to find any other jobs. Of course this isn’t true because there will always be numerous jobs and opportunities, however we often have this ridiculous scarcity mentality.
How do you stop caring? Not caring what anyone thinks of you is a working process, you just have to make the decision that from now on you will not care. You also have to be conscious of this decision repeating “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me” in your head as you are making choices in life. This will ensure that you aren’t making choices based on others judgments or opinions. Also to clarify, there is a big exception to this rule which is breaking the law. You should certainly care about your countries laws and respect the authorities.
While caring about what others think of us and our actions can be a big roadblock to success, we still need to maintain a balanced perspective. If one stops caring completely about what anyones thinks of him, he will not be able to change or grow. What was it that initiated the last goal you made? I’m sure it had to do with another human being achieving it, working towards it, or recommending it. Simply put, next time someone gives you their opinion you will need to pause and consider whether it’s valuable or not. If that person understands where you are coming from, has a similar background and similar personal values, then their opinion generally will be more valuable. However you should try to be more honest with yourself and make sure that you are not letting others opinions or judgments hold you back from doing what you want in life.
This article is part of my Roadblocks to Success series. I will discussing more Roadblocks to Success in upcoming articles.