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The Art of Letting Go of Other People's Opinions

Updated: Apr 12


Women letting go

Do you always think about what others think about you?


I met a lot of people who did not pursue something that they wanted to do because they worried about what other people would think about them. They fear the judgment from others.


I can relate to this setback very well. I often find myself being paranoid and worrying about what others might think or say about me. This fear of being judged by others often prevents me from pursuing important tasks and limiting myself from doing what I want.


What does the experience of being paranoid look like, though?


It could be having thoughts like, “I can just tell from her face that she doesn’t agree with what I’m saying”? 


Or something like, “Nobody listens to me. They think I don’t have anything to say.” 


Or maybe, “I did all this off the top of my head, and I’m sure no one is going to like it.”


Do they sound familiar? 


These are lingering thoughts that keep spiraling in our heads. It’s a normal experience for everyone. We all have these chatters in our heads telling us various things to prevent us from doing something unfamiliar or uncomfortable.


Our brain is trying to keep us away from danger. Even the small discomfort we feel when we want to do something important can be tagged as risky by our brain.


Oftentimes, it’s hard to notice it ourselves when we’re too engaged in entertaining those thoughts that may not even be true.


A coach used to remind me, “We cannot read other people’s minds. So why worry about what they think about you?” 


That phrase helps me go back to where I am instead of letting my mind explore incomprehensible thoughts.


Observing what the chatters in our head tell us is a very effective way to help ourselves stay grounded. It starts with being aware of it and telling ourselves what we’re noticing.


You can notice this in anything that you do.


You might notice that you don’t want to go to the gym, even if you want to because you worry about what others would think if you don’t know how to use a machine or what if they look at your body and judge you for it. 


You might notice that you don’t want to speak up in a meeting because you worry that you might say something wrong and others would judge your skills or intelligence because of it, so you end up staying quiet.


You might notice that you cannot say no to a request because you worry that the other person will think that you’re being selfish or you’re not helpful enough. 


You might notice that you overcommit at work because you worry that your colleagues think that you don’t produce good outputs. 


You might notice that you cannot set boundaries with anyone, with a partner perhaps, because you worry that they might leave you if you don’t do what they want.


It all starts with noticing. 


But what now?


When you notice those familiar worries or thoughts in your head when you want to do something, do it anyway. 


Scared to go to the gym? Go there anyway. No one cares about what you do because everyone else is busy doing their workouts. 


Scared to speak up? Say it anyway. No one knows everything. It’s okay to not know everything. 


Scared to say “no”? Say no anyway. If you don’t wanna do something, don’t do it. It’s better than giving yourself the pressure to do something you don’t want to do.


And the list could go on.


There will always be a feeling of discomfort when you’re on that line between listening to the chatters in your head and doing what you want to do. It’s a natural experience. The only thing that will define you at that moment is, did you stay where you are or did you cross that borderline?


It takes time to dance with our thoughts because they will always be there. They won’t disappear. 


One thing that can be helpful is noticing the thought, and still doing what you think is important for you. 


You also need to be clear about what is important to you, what resonates with your character, and what do you care about.


Do not worry about what others think about you. Let those thoughts come and go. Everyone else is too busy thinking about themselves. 


What sets you apart is taking the action that will lead you a step closer to your goals. Do not let anyone stop you from doing something great!


Self-improvement is one of the best investments you could do for yourself.


When you get there, to where you want to go, you will be able to freely express your true self because you finally embrace who you are, without other people's opinions about you. And that feels liberating!

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