The art of not caring: 7 ways to let go of other people’s opinions

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If there’s one thing I can tell you for sure, it’s that everyone’s always going to have an opinion.

If you do X, Sarah will judge you; if you do Y, Elisabeth won’t be a fan. Every choice you make reflects upon you depending on who’s looking, and the simple truth is that you’ll never please everybody.

And yet.

Yet you try. Yet you care.

I get it. I’ve been there. But then I realized just how harmful it was for me to always care about what other people thought of me – not only did it make me self-conscious at every step but it also meant I lived my life for others rather than for myself.

So, how do you let go of other people’s opinions once and for all?

Here are my 7 tips.

1) Realize you’re not all that

Ready for a harsh truth?

You’re not as important as you think you are.

There, I said it.

Mind you, I don’t mean this to be hurtful. I was in the same position once upon a time, and the only reason I’m saying this is because it’s what truly liberated me.

When you do something that goes against Katherine’s beliefs, she may gasp in horror and gossip about you for ten minutes with her best friend.

Ultimately, though, she’s got more important business to deal with. You may be at the forefront of her thoughts for a bit, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just an inconsequential fraction of her whole life.  

The same goes for positive things. If you complete your PhD or buy an expensive car in the hopes that you’ll impress your friends from high school, you may get a few wows and so cools, but before you know it, everyone moves on.

People are too self-centered to think about you that much. In short, you’re not all that.

And seeing as nobody cares about you as much as you do, you might as well live your life for yourself.

2) Flip the narrative for a second

If the first tip didn’t work, let’s take it a bit further.

Think of someone who’s not exactly your cup of tea. Come on, I know you’ve got at least one person in your life you don’t particularly like to hang out with.

Done?

Okay.

Now think back to everything that’s happened to you in the past week, what you were up to, what occupied your thoughts, what people you spent your time with.

Finally, try to remember how many times you spent longer than one minute thinking about the person you don’t like.

Chances are, you barely thought about them at all when compared to everything else you had to deal with. And that’s because even if you have an opinion on what others are up to, you ultimately don’t really give a damn.

You have your own stuff to deal with, after all.

The way you think about others is most probably how they think about you.

See? We devote less energy to analyzing other people’s lives than we realize.

3) “Embarrass” yourself on purpose

This one’s a trial by fire, I’m not going to lie.

It can also be incredibly liberating, though.

Ever heard of exposure therapy? It’s a psychological treatment where you’re exposed to your fears in a safe environment and with the help of a professional.

If your fears aren’t too serious, though – for example, if you get a bit too anxious before meeting new people – you can practice exposure therapy yourself simply by going outside your comfort zone on a regular basis.

I once had a friend who did absolutely ridiculous things in public in order to combat his fear of what others thought of him. It was hilarious.

He would lie down on the pavement in the city centre, challenge himself to wear a funny costume to school, or reply to people in nonsensical language (these are just examples of what he did – I am in no way recommending any of this).

The goal was clear: make a fool of himself so many times that he eventually didn’t feel embarrassment anymore.

And that’s why I put “embarrass” in quotation marks in the section heading. If you embarrass yourself on purpose, you eventually stop feeling embarrassed, which then defeats the whole purpose and frees you from the chains of shame and fear.

4) Ground yourself in the present moment when the worries get out of hand

Sometimes, you may overthink yourself into a bad place. Sometimes, a trial by fire is the last thing you need.

That’s when a gentle approach is a better way to go.

If you’ve stressed yourself out over what others might think of you and feel yourself getting very anxious, it might be a good idea to turn to the common remedies for stress and anxiety: meditation, a walk in nature, mindfulness, and self-soothing strategies such as self-hugs and breathing techniques.

Personally, it really helps me to reconnect with nature in such instances because the natural world reminds me of all the beauty surrounding me and of my small place in it.

When you’re up on a mountain or gazing at the sky through the trees, somehow, other people’s opinions of you seem incredibly inconsequential.

Let yourself get swallowed up by beauty. Focus on your breathing. Become mindful of your body and your thoughts.

Slowly but surely, watch your body calm down and return to a state of equilibrium.

5) Recognize your assumptions may be completely inaccurate

Look, you might believe that you know what others think of you, but in reality, you have zero clue.

Assumptions are an overthinker’s worst nightmare.

They are where most of our problems lie – we assume something is true and then follow down a path of thought from there even though the original idea may have been completely wrong in the first place.

Do you know how to find your way out of the maze?

Ask questions.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as that.

If you assume someone has a certain opinion on your life or something you did, ask them.

Sure, there’s always a chance they won’t be honest with you, but it’s better to ask for clarification than to drown in doubts and worries that may be completely unfounded.

6) Surround yourself with friends who accept you in your humanity

Let’s be honest with each other for a second.

You and I will always care about others’ opinions. There’s no point in denying that. But the people whose opinions matter to us ought to be close friends who accept and love us for who we are.

They shouldn’t be strangers on the internet, co-workers you’re not a fan of yourself, or random people on the street.

If I go ahead and make a large decision that impacts multiple areas of my life, I absolutely do care what my best friend thinks of it. I want him to approve of my choices because I cherish and respect his opinion.

But he’s had to earn this place of honor. He’s had to consistently show me that he not only loves me for who I am but is also willing to call me out and tell me when he disagrees with me.

Having a friend like this in my life means that I know who to turn to when I need help or validation, but it also means I don’t feel the need to look for those things elsewhere.

In other words, having a couple of close friends who offer you advice and emotional support makes it so that you don’t care about other people’s opinions as much.

7) Remember that this is YOUR life

You probably don’t even have a hundred years to experience everything this life has to offer.

In the grand scheme of things, you’re on planet Earth for an incredibly short amount of time.

Do you really want to waste it on stressing yourself out over what Mandy from your Literature seminar or Greg from HR think of you?

Exactly.

In a few years’ time, Mandy will disappear from your life forever. In a couple of months, Greg will go work at a different company. There’s a high chance you’ll never see those people again.

But do you know who will stay with you through it all? Who’ll remain by your side for all of time?

Yes, that’s right.

You.

This is your life. You get to choose what it is you say, do, feel, and think.

So let go of what others might think of you if you do X or Y. Instead, consider how your actions will make YOU feel.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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