“The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important”Mark Manson
So, after years of battling with social anxiety (the crippling, soul-destroying, can’t-leave-the-house kind of social anxiety), I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I’ve stopped caring so much about what people think of me.
And let me tell you – it’s one of the most freeing feelings in the world!
Of course, nobody knows how to stop caring about what people think of them entirely. Humans are innately social beings with a primitive need for approval and acceptance. I mean, surely everyone has deep-cleaned their house before a guest arrives only to tell them “sorry about the mess” as soon as they step in the door. Right?
Our desire for acceptance amongst our peers infiltrates our everyday decisions, often in a passive, subconscious way. However, if you struggle with social anxiety, you’ll know that caring about what people think isn’t something you do passively, subconsciously or every once in a while.
It is something that can take over – and ruin – your entire life.
What Is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety sufferers are particularly vulnerable to outside opinions. Low self-esteem, irrational feelings of social inadequacy and the debilitating fear of ridicule makes our desire for acceptance and external validation intensify to the point of unhealthy and obsessive preoccupation with other’s opinions.
In social situations, we can get so bogged down in how we’re being perceived that we can come across as awkward or rude.
We over-analyse every conversation we have to the point where a snide comment, mocking laugh or unimpressed glare can be found in the midst of a perfectly normal exchange.
We attack ourselves daily for our unlikability, our awkwardness and our inability to adhere to social norms.
All in all, we care about what people think. A LOT.
Luckily though, social anxiety can be overcome – and these practical, mindset-altering tips will help you do it!
Here is everything I did to transform myself from a socially-anxious overthinker into a slightly less anxious bad-ass who doesn’t give
as much of a fuck.
1. Actively Work On Your Insecurities and Core Beliefs
The secret to overcoming social anxiety ultimately lies in overcoming your insecurities.
Because in order to stop caring about what people think of you, you need to change the way that you think about yourself.
If you have social anxiety, you often have deep-seated insecurities rooted in traumatic social experiences like bullying or emotional neglect. For example, if somebody calls you a loser in high school, you might subconsciously repeat it to yourself until it becomes a negative core belief.
Core beliefs are the things that we deem to be the absolute truth about the world. Negative core beliefs are particularly detrimental to our mental health because we place such high value on them. We often believe them to be true subconsciously and without question.
That feeling of “nobody likes me” is usually nothing more than a negative, often self-fulfilling core belief. It doesn’t reflect the truth!
Once you start acknowledging your insecure core beliefs, you’ll quickly see just how upsetting and self-sabotaging it is to put so much value into other people’s opinions. Instead, focus on healing from any past trauma, embracing your quirks and improving your confidence.
2. Use Positive Affirmations Daily
Using positive affirmations in your everyday life is one of the best self-love practises that you can do. Positive affirmations boost your self-esteem, directly challenge and transform negative core beliefs, and gradually have you caring less and less about the opinions of other people.
Come up with some positive affirmations that align with your aspired reality. Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat them to yourself over and over again. Try things like:
“I accept myself for who I am”
“I am not bothered by other people’s opinions of me”
“I embrace all of my flaws”
3. Limit The Time You Spend On Social Media
Social media is a melting pot of insecurity where likes, comments and followers serve to validate our acceptance. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit-hole of comparisons and negative self-perceptions when your Instagram feed is full of people appearing to be living their best lives. Taking time away from social media to focus on yourself, for yourself, really loosens the hold that people’s opinions have over you.
4. Realise That People Don’t Think About You As Much As You Think About Them
I find it really helpful to remember that the average person has 50,000 thoughts running through their head every single day – and at the end of that day, they’ll have remembered only 50-100.
The truth is, a large majority of everyday thoughts revolve around the self, so unless you’ve done something particularly scandalous that directly influences somebody’s life, your actions are usually no more than a passing thought.
In the same breath –
5. No-one Really Cares About Or Remembers That Embarrassing Thing You Did
So, you say something super awkward and as everyone goes momentarily silent, you feel yourself shrivel up and die on the inside. You lie awake in bed replaying the memory, imagining them gossiping about you to their friends or doing impressions of you at work. You obsess over it, allowing the fear and humiliation to permanently scar you.
But guess what? Unless you’re in high-school (in which case I am so, so sorry for you), your blunder was probably forgotten after a few seconds.
Honestly, unless your super-embarrassing can’t-leave-the-house-again moment had some kind of consequential influence on their lives, most people simply won’t care. Think about it: do you vividly remember other people’s embarrassing moments?
I’ve learnt from experience that the very best thing you can do when something embarrassing happens is to treat it like everyone does. Laugh it off – and let it go.
Of course, this isn’t to say that people don’t gossip. It’s never nice, but rather than let the opinions of a few people affect your life to the point where you feel like crap about yourself for the next 10 years, rise above it by utilising the most powerful, perception-altering thought on this list –
6. Accept That Not Everyone Is Going To Like You
There are some things in life that you just have to accept in order to move on from them. So, my number one tip for learning how to stop caring about what people think of you?
Truly acknowledge, accept and make peace with the fact that not everyone is going to like you.
Overcoming social anxiety is about letting go of the power that people’s opinions have you. If you’re always going into situations obsessing about being liked or fitting in, you’re always going to be a prisoner to other people’s opinions.
Set yourself free by accepting that just as you are perfectly entitled to not like some people, some people are perfectly entitled to not like you. After all, in a world containing billions of unique personalities, opinions and values, it’s ridiculous to imagine that we can appease everyone.
However, there is one person that you should be trying desperately to appease – and that person is yourself!
I used to have so much anxiety about being disliked that not only did it became a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it made me deeply unhappy because I was always second-guessing myself. I was constantly trying to mould myself into everyone else’s ‘ideal person’, which was consistently self-sabotaging. It deepened my social anxieties and limited my authentic, fun-loving personality into an awkward, desperate-to-please bag of nerves.
Once I realised that there will always be people who dislike me no matter what I say or do, I gradually stopped caring so much about whether or not people liked me and began to care a lot more about whether or not I liked myself.
One of the most beautiful, liberating experiences I’ve ever had is when I encountered someone who just didn’t like me – and instead of being distraught about it, I immediately thought: “oh, who fucking cares!” and just went on with my day.
So there you have it – now go and live your best-damned life without caring about what others are thinking! If you have any other advice on how to stop caring about what people think of you, please leave it down in the comments below 😊