“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
― Dave Ramsey
You must have heard this quote from the movie, Fightclub. But why is it so relatable with today’s society and why do we even care what other people think?
While of course, it’s more of a philosophical question, and subjects like materialism, the rise of social media, the human quest to compete, and so on—need to be studied to find out an in-depth answer.
But there is one simple answer: Because we live in other people’s heads.
That’s why we judge ourselves too harshly. It makes us feel uncomfortable in our own skin. It makes us feel guilty for being who we are. It causes us to live in accordance with our perceptions of others’ expectations. It makes us small. It makes us feel unattractive. It makes us feel not good enough.
And that’s why we do things to impress other people.
We post the best selfie out of 50 we took. That too with an unauthentic filter so that we look pretty enough that people will like and comment.
We wear expensive clothes at parties so that we can compete with other people and look good in the eyes of other people.
We often buy things that we can’t practically afford to stay ahead in the competition.
But the truth is—it’s not gonna make us happy and we know that. We can’t change other people’s opinions. They are still going to judge, dislike, and get offended by our actions. And we can’t control them.
Now you must be saying, “that’s fine and I agree, but how can I actually stop caring what other people think?” To which, here are some practical ways.
1. You can’t please everyone
It’s hard to meet everyone’s high standards. There will always be people who will judge us, regardless of what we say or how we treat them. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the gym, at work, or on social media. It’s always going to happen. You’ll never be able to stop people from judging you, however, you can stop yourself from taking it personally. Or even letting it affect you.
Consider the worst-case scenario of someone passing judgment on you. We can assure you that nothing will happen. Not a single thing. No one is going to take time out of their busy schedules to confront us. No one really cares. What will happen is that these people will admire you for standing up for what you believe in. Even if they don’t agree with you, they will respect you because you stand for something and very few people stand for what they believe. Moreover, it’s a perfect way to stop caring what other people think.
Therefore, Start speaking up for what you believe in, whether it’s a cause, an idea, a concept, or anything else. You’ll still have people who disagree with you, so why not say what you really think? It’s best to be loved by a few people you care about, rather than being loved by anyone. These are the ones who love you for who you are and will be there for you in your darkest moments: family, friends, and partners. Pay attention to these individuals. They are the only ones who are important. And not random people from social media.
2. You must make mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes. It’s human nature—that’s how we learn and grow. However, we live in a society where we don’t like to talk about our mistakes because it’s supposed to make you feel small or inadequate. That’s why we are afraid of making mistakes. Even if you live your life in accordance with your ideas, remain in your own company, and give it your all, you will make mistakes. Without a doubt.
And that should be fine. Because everybody does it. And it gets easier when we understand that everyone has been there. Nobody ever succeeded without falling—even Batman did. Everyone went through failures and made mistakes. But the only best thing to do about mistakes is to learn from them. To come out stronger and learn the lesson. Once you’ve determined what you can learn from the experience, rumination is no longer necessary, and it’s time to move on.
But doing the opposite will cause you a lot of damage. When you make a mistake, stay in the zone and don’t move on, particularly if it makes you look stupid. We make a lot of mistakes that make us believe that everybody would think we’re stupid. But this isn’t the case. We think we’ve embarrassed ourselves, but this isn’t always the case. The best you can do at this point is accept that you made a mistake and you should move on. This is a must if you want to stop caring what other people think.
We frequently mistake social media likes and shares for accomplishments. We use our social media profiles to validate ourselves online. If our content doesn’t reach a large number of people, we get a bad feeling—as if it wasn’t good enough. If our selfie does not garner much attention, we begin to doubt our physical appearance. And it’s a risky thing to do because we’re basing our approvals on like and comment metrics.
Author Jia Tolentino wrote in her book Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion that “the internet is governed by incentives that make it impossible to be a full person while interacting with it.” She mentioned that critics have observed that humans exhibit “classic reward-seeking lab-rat behavior, the sort that’s observed when lab rats are put in front of an unpredictable food dispenser.”
“That is what keeps us scrolling, scrolling, pressing our lever over and over in the hopes of getting some fleeting sensation— some momentary rush of recognition, flattery or rage,” Tolentino added. Depending on likes and retweets from social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, she noted in a New Yorker piece, is akin to “playing a slot machine that tells you whether or not people love you.” (source)
As a result, you must recognize that social media does not define your true worth. Sometimes the best work on the internet is overlooked because the person does not have enough followers to make the algorithm work for them. Aside from this understanding, you should think about digital detox to create a healthy relationship between your digital and real lives. Digital detox is a great way to stop caring what other people think.
It’s not easy to stop caring what other people think. Especially because our society is inclined towards materialism and internet validation.
But it’s very important to avoid this destructive habit of caring for what others might think or approve or disapprove of. Because it will harm you in the long run. It will harm your peace and cause you anxiety.
We have mentioned three ways to overcome the dire situation. Make sure that you practice these habits and start living a life where you don’t care about others, but you.