Worrying what others think? The folly of seeking praise, appreciation and approval from others.

Worrying what others think? The folly of seeking praise, appreciation and approval from others.

I have come to realise that, “It is none of my business what other people think.”

When I worry:

  • I people please, try to be nice and make my views more agreeable. I am not authentic.
  • I find it hard to relax, I feel nervous, tense, stressed and self-conscious. It takes my confidence away. My mind is preoccupied and it is harder to be present in the moment, to enjoy myself and have fun.
  • I fear rejection, and so I tend to give in or go along, and then feel resentment afterwards and hate myself or blame the other person “what’s so good about them, anyway”
  • I waste huge amounts of time worrying what I said or didn’t say or should have said or done. I worry about going out, what will happen, who will be there, what should I wear, what should I say, etc.
  • My happiness goes up or down depending on how other people treat me. If I get a compliment I feel fantastic and if I get criticised I feel small and worthless.
  • Around new people I am shyer, more self-conscious and less talkative. I tend to sit back, withdraw, wait and observe. I mind read, make assumptions, take things personally and over-react.
  • I put my happiness in the hands of others, make myself their hostage, and I become easy to own, control and manipulate.
  • I lose myself, I abandon myself and I lose my own approval

With all of these disadvantages, why do we seek approval and worry what other people think of us?

For me, I wanted to be liked and I wanted to avoid looking uncool. More than that, I thought I could make people like me if I could be what they wanted me to be.

WOW, is that even possible! Think about it.

  • It is impossible to mind read. I cannot know another person so well that I can predict what they will like and dislike about me.
  • I cannot control what another person thinks or says, and I don’t want to.
  • In any case, people are mostly focused on themselves. If they think about me at all, it is only for a brief moment.
  • What someone else thinks is only their opinion anyway. If I do not agree with their opinion, what does it have to do with me. Another person cannot really know me. It is not personal.
  • In the end they will either like me or not, so why waste time pretending to be something I am not. Just be myself.
  • If I worry what other people think, I am less confident and less likable. I am acting like a fake and that is not cool.

The solution is to just BE YOURSELF. ACCEPT YOURSELF AND BE THE BEST PERSON YOU CAN BE then you have no need for guilt or regret, and others will like you or not anyway. IT IS NOT PERSONAL. All the while, YOU WILL FEEL AT PEACE, RELAXED AND FREE TO BE. How liberating.

Paradoxically, the less you seek the approval of others, the more you actually tend to get it.

Life is too short to waste your time and energy waiting for others to approve of you or how you live your life. It is your life. You do not exist to impress others. You exist to live your life to make you happy, to accept and approve of yourself, and to live in line with your integrity. So long as you do not hurt others, it does not matter if others approve of you or not. It does not need to affect your life or happiness, the sun still shines regardless.

Therefore, the only person I need approval from is me. Instead of seeking love and approval from others, I work on loving and accepting myself.  I want for others to be who they are and to think the way they think. That is freedom. That is respect. That is love. It is without judgement. It respects that others have the right to be themselves and to live their life, as do I have the same right. We are born whole. We are each unique. We bring colour to the world. I prefer to focus on recognising the uniqueness in others rather than on trying to get them to see the merits in me. I realise deeply, for when I accept and love myself, I feel complete, happy and at peace, and I have no need to seek validation or approval from others. I have no need to impress my point of view. I am all I seek and I am free to be me. Therefore, “it is not my business what others think”.

This is easier said than done. Two suggestions may help your practice.

Fake it till you make it. Find the courage to try and be yourself and unhook from what others thinks. Watch your mind and when you notice it straying into other people’s business, ignore these thoughts and return back to task. It is in the doing that you gain confidence as you come to realise it is a win-win, in that, you like yourself more and so do others.

Secondly, you need to recognise the futility of wasting precious energy and time even contemplating what other people may be thinking. For when you are in other people’s business you are not in your own business and therefore you are not present, not here and now, wasting your life and moreover the thoughts bring you into suffering.

You need to choose peace/presence above all else.

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