Do You Worry About What Other People Think?

Do you worry about what other people think?

I do.

The women in the stress management workshop I presented this week do.

And the self-employed professionals who attended my public speaking workshop do.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t at some point in their life worry about what other people think.

Why do we worry?

I can only speak for myself.  I go back to my youth for the answer. I was often teased and criticized by peers.  You might ask the question of yourself: “Why do I worry about what people think?”

Worrying about what other people think can stop you from living the life you know deep down you want to live.

So how do you stop the worry?

I don’t know if it’s possible to stop completely. I know I’m not worry free! (if you never worry, let me know, I’d love to interview you.)  However, I have taken the following steps over the years in an effort to better manage this worry when it appears. Here is what worked for me.

Be aware. Noticing my thoughts is always the first step in taming them.

Get curious. Once I notice the worrisome thoughts, I asked myself, “Are these stories true?” Although at times the stories are created due to events of the past, they aren’t reality. The future hasn’t happened and the past is over.

Tap into me. I spent so much time worrying about what other people thought of and said about me, I failed to notice what I thought of me. Quiet practices like yoga and meditation helped me listen less to others and more to me.

Take some action. For a year I wanted to start a networking group for health and wellness professionals. Worrying about what others thought kept me from doing it. I finally decided the best way to know it it will work – offer the networking. I did. It worked. I’m no longer worried what other people think.

Surround myself with supportive people. One woman in the stress management workshop I taught earlier this week explained how she wants to finish her undergraduate degree, nights, in Boston. Her family is nervous about her evening commute into the city. She wants to go for it. As soon as she shared her story with others in the room (her work colleagues) every one said, “Go for it! That’s awesome!” We all need supportive groups to turn to for encouragement.

Remember, it’s my life. Actually these are the exact words from the women I mentioned above seeking to finish her undergraduate degree. When I let the words and fears of others dictate my actions, whose life am I living? I’ve taken many steps in my life that others don’t understand. In the past I let it stop me believing “I must be doing something wrong”. What I do may be different, but that doesn’t mean it’s “wrong”. If my actions feel good for me and the people I’m hoping to influence, then why not go for it?

How about you? Do you worry about what people think? How do you manage it?

 

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4 Comments:

  • Susan O’Brien

    I think we all would like everyone to like and accept us, but in reality that’s not possible. We all have faults and some will judge us for them. But your true friends won’t. They will accept you, faults and all and vice versa. I have made many mistakes in my life and have not always made the best decisions. But I have always tried to be true to myself and fight for what I believe in. This may not always get you ahead in the work place or win you the most friends, but I have several “true friends” that have been in my life for over 40 yrs. In this respect, I think quality wins over quantity. To de-stress, solitary walks on the beach several times a week do it for me.

  • Penny

    If I attend or have a party, or if I go on a weekend with a group, or even if I just attend a meeting, I tend to be noticeable. Sometimes loud. Afterwards, I am plagued with worry, replaying the scenes over and over in my mind. I worry about what other people think, how they perceive me, and that is reflected in my behavior from that point on. Then people really do reject me and I get severely depressed. I know, in my heart, I am a good person. I am caring (sometimes too much and I push my views on unwilling recipients). This has been happening for my whole life. I’m over 50. When this happens, I start to have suicidal thoughts. I try to think of all the blessings in my life (there are so many). But I still torture myself with these thoughts.

  • Penny

    If I attend or have a party, or if I go on a weekend with a group, or even if I just attend a meeting, I tend to be noticeable. Sometimes loud. Afterwards, I am plagued with worry, replaying the scenes over and over in my mind. I worry about what other people think, how they perceive me, and that is reflected in my behavior from that point on. Then people really do reject me and I get severely depressed. I know, in my heart, I am a good person. I am caring (sometimes too much and I push my views on unwilling recipients). This has been happening for my whole life. I’m over 50. When this happens, I start to have suicidal thoughts. I try to think of all the blessings in my life (there are so many). But I still torture myself with these thoughts.

  • Dee

    This has been haunting me for years. I have always been addicted to approval and the good light of everyone else. I try to remember that I’m not them and they’re not me and I never have to have THEIR feelings in my whole life. I also read a lot of self help books and they all say that its ridiculous to care. I am determined to get there one day.

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