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How to not give a fuck: 8 steps to stop seeking approval from others

Are you often stressed?

Do you feel like the little things get to you too easily?

Well, this guide’s perfect for you.

Here, you’ll learn how to not give a fuck.

That’s right — this is your chance to refresh your mindset to live a happier, more fulfilling life.

However, do understand this:

Not giving fucks isn’t an excuse for you to be a careless prick; it’s also not about totally ignoring what’s happening around the world.

Because if that’s what you want, this is what you’re looking for:

Nihilism.

That’s the view that everything is meaningless. It’s a belief in nothing, that total destruction is acceptable.

And learning how to not give a fuck is not about that.

The real meaning of not giving fucks is knowing where you should give a fuck.

Face it:

You don’t have an unlimited supply of fucks.

A fuck is a scarce resource that you need to spend wisely — and we’re here to help you out.

Here are the 8 most effective ways to stop yourself from giving a fuck:

1) Stay in the Present

Here’s the problem:

You think a lot.

You always have something in your mind.

According to Dr. Dennis Gersten, a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the average person runs about “15,000 thoughts per day in which at least half of those are negative. And we know that our thoughts turn into our emotions and our emotions turn into physiology.”

Now we’re not saying you should stop thinking, but you need to give yourself a break from all the stressful thoughts.

And what better break to give yourself than sticking to the present moment?

According to Master Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, peace can only exist in the present moment:

“Peace can exist only in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say “Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace.” What is “this”? A di­ploma, a job, a house, the payment of a debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another “this” that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only “the hope of peace someday.”

So to keep your mind focused on the present moment, keep these tips in mind:

— Don’t delve into what has happened in the past.
— Focus on the things that are actually within your control.
— Don’t think about what may or may not happen in the far future.
— Thinking all the time about the past and the future will only cause you sadness or anxiety.

Your fucks should stay for the present. This is the time when you do have control.

The present is where change takes place.

Why should you give a fuck about what you either can’t change any more or you can’t do anything about right now?

The Dalai Lama says it best:

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

In other words:

Don’t let yourself drift off somewhere that won’t be good for your mental and emotional health.

You’ll be surprised how good it feels to no longer think about all the whys and what-ifs.

(If you’re looking for specific actions you can take to stay in the moment and live a happier life, check out our best-selling eBook on how to use Buddhist teachings for a mindful and happy life here.)

2) Face Your Fears

Do you know what’s worse than failure?

Not attempting to do something at all.

If you really want to know how to not give a fuck, you have to give a fuck first.

Doesn’t make sense?

Well, let’s explain it with an example.

What if you’ve been worried about going on a date with someone you genuinely like

Basically, what happens is that your fear of failing or being embarrassed stops you from doing it in the first place. And if you don’t ever try, you stay in a place of unnecessary nervousness.

So if you’re always worried, it means you’re giving too many fucks.

You have all these scenarios playing in your head:

  • “What if they don’t like me and they reject me?”
  • “What if I embarrass myself?
  • “What if I’m so nervous that I look like an idiot?”

And the only way you’re going stop playing those scenarios in your head is to take action.

It’s the only way to realize that it’s not as scary as you think.

And when you find out it’s not that scary, you’ll be in a better position to not care as much.

The key lesson is this:

Go on more dates. Improve your skills. Work out that it’s not as bad as you think.

The bottom line is this:

Give a fuck, at first, and then you’ll take action. You have to stumble and learn through experience.

You cannot just keep on imagining how you’ll succeed or fail.

Because once you’ve grown used to whatever it is you were initially afraid of, you will no longer give so many fucks about it.

“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” – Dale Carnegie

(If you’re looking for more information on specific steps you can take to conquer your fears, check out our guide on how to be brave here)

3) Know That You’re Not Alone in Being Imperfect

Wanna know how to not give a fuck?

Understand that you’re not special.

We’re not saying you should feel like you’re just a cog in the machine. Rather, this means that pretty much everyone else worries about a lot of things as well.

For example, you’re out to apply for a job.

You go to the office building and sit among dozens of other applications.

Everyone is caring about how they look and what impression they’re giving.

Everyone is caring about their appearance more than they need to.

Humans are social animals, after all.

In fact, according to Scientific American, it’s natural for humans to care what other people think of them.

But it can consume our decisions, our thoughts, and our lives if you aren’t careful.

When we give other people the power to influence our decisions, we remove our own empowerment and end up living lives we don’t want, don’t like, and don’t benefit from.

The first step to stop caring what other people think is to recognize that everyone who is judging you, or who you think is judging you, is also being judged and feels judgment from other people.

Every human being is suffering from thought overload and it often takes over our lives in a really unproductive way.

We start to think that we are not able to make decisions on our own or we don’t trust ourselves to do the things we want to do.

When it comes to giving up how much you are about what people think, start with understanding that everyone has an opinion, they are entitled to it, but it doesn’t make them right.

But if you’re caring too much and you’re adjusting your life according to other people’s expectations, it may be time to push back.

If you think you look fine, then you are; it’s only your mind telling you that everyone else is judging your every move.

Spiritual Master Osho has some great advice if you’re caring what other people think about you:

“Nobody can say anything about you. Whatsoever people say is about themselves. But you become very shaky because you are still clinging to a false center. That false center depends on others, so you are always looking at what people are saying about you….”

“Whenever you are self-conscious you are simply showing that you are not conscious of the self at all. You don’t know who you are. If you had known, then there would have been no problem— then you are not seeking opinions. Then you are not worried what others say about you— it is irrelevant!”

“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.”

4) Learn the Value of Saying “No”

Is it good to be helpful?

Of course!

Is it good to always be available to anyone who needs assistance? Not exactly.

If you say “yes” to everything, you’ll get burned out. You’ll lose time, energy, and money to focus on yourself. And worse, people could take advantage of your kindness.

In order to master how to not give a fuck, you must learn how to say no.

You don’t have to reject every single request. But you must know when to turn one down.

Perhaps you’re afraid to say no for several reasons:

— You don’t want to hurt the feelings of others, especially those dear to you.
— You fear that no one will be there when it’s your time to ask for help.
— You’re worried you’ll eventually get a bad reputation.

But these are concerns that you needn’t worry about.

Real friends won’t take it personally if you can’t help them all the time — they won’t ignore your pleas just because of this.

Don’t worry about getting a bad reputation. Like we’ve said earlier:

Others are too busy worrying about themselves to give many fucks about you.

And you can use this technique to say “no” more often without offending people: the refusal strategy.

Professor Patrick and Henrik Hagtvedit found that saying “I don’t” instead of “I can’t” allowed people to rid themselves of things they didn’t want to do.

While “I can’t” sounds like an excuse that could be up for debate, “I don’t”, implies you’ve already established rules for yourself.

Remember:

If you learn to use your fucks wisely, you’ll be able to say “no” more often.

Stop being that one person everyone asks first because they know you’re compelled to always say yes.

Do you know what happens if you stop? You take full control of your life again.

You become free.

Free from the unrealistic expectations others and you yourself have set.

“The ability to communicate ‘no’ really reflects that you are in the driver’s seat of your own life,” said Vanessa M. Patrick, a professor of marketing at the C. T. Bauer College of Business. “It gives you a sense of empowerment.”

5) Stop Looking for Permission

The next time you are making a decision about your life, don’t run it by anyone.

Try this once and trust yourself to make the right choices for your life. We often turn to family or friends to tell us we are on the right path, but that can be destructive in the long run.

By asking for permission or approval from other people, we are telling ourselves that we don’t know how to proceed and that undermines our efforts.

If you want to stop caring about what other people think and start living your own life, stop asking people to give insight into your life.

Self-esteem won’t be boosted until you wise up and take responsibility.

Responsibility empowers you to take action to improve yourself and help others.

And self-esteem goes both ways. If you’re relying on external validation like praise from other people to fuel your self-esteem, then you’re giving away power to others.

Instead, start building stability within. Value yourself and who you are.

(To learn techniques on how to believe in yourself when the world is telling you differently, check out my ultimate guide on how to love yourself here)

6) Do Things That Make You Happy

If you want to stop caring what other people think and start living your own life in a way that lights you up, stop doing things you don’t want to do.

We all feel the pressure of needing to say yes to an invitation, but if you don’t want to go to dinner or party, don’t go.

Do things that make you happy. The more you do for yourself, the better you’ll feel.

And no, it’s not selfish to turn down a party invitation if that is not really how you want to spend your time.

If more people set boundaries for how they used their time, people would be a lot happier.

A lot of these problems stem from the fact that we think happiness is created by outside attachments.

This is something that isn’t easy to realize.

After all, many of us may think that happiness means obtaining a shiny new iPhone or getting a higher promotion at work for more money. It’s what society tells us every day! Advertising is everywhere.

But we need to realize that happiness only exists inside ourselves.

Outside attachments give us temporary joy – but when the feeling of excitement and joy is over, we go back to the cycle of wanting that high again.

An extreme example highlighting the problems with this is a drug addict. They’re happy when they’re taking drugs, but miserable and angry when they’re not. It’s a cycle that no one wants to be lost in.

True happiness can only come from within.

It’s time to take power back and realize that we create happiness and inner peace inside ourselves.

7) Pay Attention to Why You Do or Say Things

Whenever you make a decision, recognize that there are a set of beliefs behind that decision that may be holding you back or pushing you forward.

If you are making decisions that keep you small, ask yourself who you might be thinking of when you make that decision.

We all have people in our lives we want to impress upon or that we seek approval from, but it’s important not to let their influence over us impact our choices in life.

Parents are a great example of how much indirect influence they can have, even after we’ve become adults.

Are you in a job you hate because your mother thinks you are a good accountant?

Time to break out from that hold and decide what you want to do for yourself.

We only get life once, so it’s important that we try to make the biggest positive impact that we can, however that may look for you.

8) Look for Something Worth Giving a Fuck

Okay, here’s the thing:

People cannot learn how to not give a fuck if they don’t have a clear goal in life.

In other words:

You have to dedicate your fucks to something to stop caring about everything.

Because let’s face it:

You won’t have any fucks to give if you were focused on one major objective.

You won’t care about the daily political bickering.

You won’t give a fuck about what your officemates are gossiping about.

So think about what you want to achieve:

— Do you want to mitigate the effects of climate change?
— Do you want to be fluent in Spanish?
— Do you want to get promoted?

There are many other goals you can think of for yourself — what matters is that it’s something dear to you.

Something you won’t trade for anything else. Because if you truly value it, you will stop wasting your fucks.

Here’s some great advice from The Dalai Lama on the key to finding your purpose in life:

“So, let us reflect what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that. The purpose of our life needs to be positive. We weren’t born with the purpose of causing trouble, harming others. For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualities—warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful—happier.”

(Blogging and online marketing has given me great purpose in life. Check out my ultimate guide to my favorite tool, ClickFunnels, and learn about why I like it so much).

Learning How to Not Give a Fuck

The key to a peaceful, fulfilling life is knowing when and where to give a fuck.

You’re not going to live forever.

You need to be smart about your limited time in the world.

So enjoy life when you can.

Don’t let your mind get clouded with trivial issues that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Stop caring about what other people think and start focusing on what you think.

It’s not easy, and you’ll slip up lots of times while you try to get your act together, but it’s worth the effort.

Once you realize that you don’t need to care about what other people think, you’ll be free to live life the way you wanted from the start.

Sum Up

— Don’t stress yourself out on the things that you cannot change. Only focus on what you can change.
— Don’t dwell on the past and the future. Pay attention to what you have control over, the present moment.
— Everyone else is worried about themselves; they don’t give a lot of fucks about you, so you don’t need to worry about what they think of you.
— You are not obligated to lend a helping hand at all times. Pick your fucks wisely.
— Don’t be a nihilist; find meaning in life and dedicate your fucks there.

You see, learning how to not give a fuck is all about determination.

It’s about not paying attention to things that don’t matter.

So strive for your big dreams.

Stop giving fucks.

Your time is important — spend it on things that are worth your while.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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