post written by: Marc Chernoff

7 Ways to Stop Fearing What Everyone Thinks of You


7 Ways to Stop Fearing What Everyone Thinks of You

The unhappiest people in this world are the people who
care the most about what everyone else thinks.

“What’s wrong with wanting to please others?”

That’s what several people asked me via email in response to one of my recent articles.  Today, I want to discuss why it’s not healthy to try to please everyone, and how to stop yourself from doing so.

Seeking approval from others is perfectly fine up until the point where you are compromising your health and happiness in the process.  It becomes a serious problem if you feel as though widespread positive approval from others is the very oxygen you need to breathe.  There was a time in my life when I felt exactly this way.

I literally felt like I was short of breath – almost as if I’d die if my peers didn’t approve of me.  This is a condition that developed in my mind when I was very young, after kids in grade school teased me for being a “nerd.”  I did everything I could to win their approval.  And although I grew out of my awkward stage pretty early in my teenage years, the damage was done – I was left feeling insecure.  I was conditioned to seek and beg for outside approval at all times.

The big problem was that, as a twenty-something college graduate entering the work force, I felt that anything I did or even thought only had validity if it was the “right thing” to say and think.  And by “right thing,” what I really mean is “what other people thought was right.”  I was terrified to step outside the box of acceptability – which was especially harmful to my creativity as I tried to nurture my passion for writing and blogging.

Once I realized what I was doing, I read several books, spoke with a coach, and focused diligently on healing this broken part of myself.

The bottom line is that constant approval-seeking forces you to miss out on the beauty of simply being yourself, with your own unique ideas and desires.  If you are led through life only doing and being what you’ve come to believe is expected of you, then, in a way, you cease to live.

So how can you stop fearing what everyone thinks of you?  Let’s take a look:

1.  Get comfortable with not knowing what other people think.

When I first started writing on this blog, I’d agonize over whether people would think what I was writing was good enough.  I desperately hoped they’d like it, and oftentimes I’d catch myself imagining they didn’t.  Then one day I realized how much energy I was wasting worrying about it.  So I’ve gradually learned to relax with simply not knowing.

Some problems in life, such as not knowing what others think of you, are not really meant to be resolved.  How people perceive you may have more to do with them than you anyway.  They may even like or dislike you simply because you’ve triggered an association in their minds by reminding them of someone they liked or disliked from their past, which has absolutely nothing to do with you.

So here’s a new mantra for you – say it, and then say it again: “This is my life, my choices, my mistakes and my lessons.  As long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” and “Relationships” chapters of “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.”)

2.  Know that most people are NOT thinking about you anyway.

Ethel Barrett once said, “We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.

Forget what everyone else thinks of you; chances are, they aren’t thinking about you anyway.  If you feel like they always are, understand that this perception of them watching you and critiquing your every move is a complete figment of your imagination.  It’s your own inner fears and insecurities that are creating this illusion.  It’s you judging yourself that’s the problem.

3.  Accept that someone else’s opinion is NOT your problem.

How many times have you looked at a person and initially misjudged their brilliance?  Appearances are deceptive.  How you seem to someone and how you actually are rarely congruent.  Even if they get the basic gist of who you are, they’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle.  What someone thinks of you will rarely contain the whole truth, which is fine.

If someone forms an opinion of you based on superficialities, then it’s up to them, not you, to reform those opinions based on a more objective and rational viewpoint.  Leave it to them to worry about – that is, if they even have an opinion at all.

Bottom line:  The opinions other people have about you is their problem, not yours.  The less you worry about what they think of you, the less complicated your life becomes.  (Read The Four Agreements.)

4.  Ask yourself, “Does what they think even matter?”

People will think what they want to think.  No matter how carefully you choose your words and mannerisms, there’s always a good chance they’ll be misinterpreted and twisted upside down by someone.  Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?  No, it doesn’t.

How others see you is not important.  How you see yourself means the world.  When you’re making big decisions, remember, what you think of yourself and your life is more important than what people think of you.  Stay true to YOU.  Never be ashamed of doing what feels right.  Decide what you think is right and stick to it.

5.  See the benefit in being unique.

If you’re thinking like everyone else, you aren’t thinking.  And if you aren’t thinking, you aren’t truly living.

It’s human nature to attempt to mimic other humans we look up to – perhaps a parental figure or a celebrity – especially when we are feeling insecure in our own skin.  But attempting to be someone else will always leave us feeling empty inside.  Why?  Because what we appreciate about the people we admire is their individuality – the qualities that make them unique.  To really copy them, we need to develop our own individuality, and in that way, we would actually be less like them and more like our true selves.

We all have quirks and unique perspectives.  The more relaxed you become with your own differences, the more comfortable you will start to feel just being YOU.  Celebrate being different, off the beaten path, a little on the weird side… your own special creation.  If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in.  But DO NOT change who you are; BE who you are.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

6.  Be fully present and aware of how you DO want to feel.

It’s OK to know how you do not want to feel, but that’s not all you should be thinking about.  Imagine someone trying to learn to read by spending all their time focusing on how they do not want to not be able to read.  It doesn’t really make any sense, does it?

Enough is enough!  Forget what you do not want to feel for a moment.  Work out how you DO want to feel right now in the present moment.  Train yourself to live right here, right now without regretting how others once made you feel, or fearing the possibility of future judgment.

If you were delivering life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on your mom in public, you’d be 100% focused and present.  You wouldn’t be thinking about what bystanders thought of your hair, your body type, or the brand of jeans you were wearing.  All these inconsequential details would vanish from your consciousness.  The intensity of the situation would motivate you to choose not to care about what others might be thinking of you.  This proves, quite simply, that thinking about what others are thinking about you is YOUR CHOICE.

7.  Speak and live your truth.

Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.  Be cordial and reasonable, of course, but don’t tread carefully on every word you say.  Push your concerns of what others might think aside.  Let the consequences of doing so unravel naturally.  What you’ll find is that most of the time no one will be offended or irritated at all.  And if they do get upset, it’s likely only because you’ve started behaving in a way that makes them feel they have less power over you.

Think about it.  Why be fake?

In the end, the truth usually comes out one way or the other, and when that happens, you’re standing alone if you’ve been living a lie.  So live your whole truth starting now.  If someone gives you a hard time and says, “You’ve changed,” it’s not a bad thing.  It just means you stopped living your life their way.  Don’t apologize for it.  Instead, be open and sincere, explain how you feel, and keep doing what you know in your heart is right.

Afterthoughts

A life spent ceaselessly trying to please people who, perhaps, are incapable of ever being pleased, or trying too hard to always be seen as doing “the right thing,” is a sure road to a regretful existence.

Do more than just exist.  We all exist.  The question is:  Do you live?

I eventually realized existing without ever truly living was not what I wanted for myself.  So I made changes – I implemented all seven of the points discussed in this article and never looked back.  If you are in the same place I once was, seeking approval from everyone for every little thing you do, please take this post to heart and start making changes today.  Life is too short not to.

Your turn…

How has the fear of what other people think interfered with your life?  What has it stopped you from doing?  How have you coped?  Leave a comment below and share your insights with us.

Photo by: Zev

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94 Comments

  • Fantastic post! Thanks for sharing. So many of us need to get into the mindset of “What would I do if I were completely free of judgement?” in order to truly be free, secure and happy. The fear of what others think often stops us from being ourselves.

    I cope by concentrating on my core goals and only the opinions of those who matter in my life.

  • Thank you so much for this lovely post. It’s true that we never need to carry more than you can hold; we just need to take it one day at a time. I always put myself under pressure of what others think of me. It has stopped me on many occasions from following my heart. But your words here (and in your book) are pushing me forward in the right direction.

  • Knowing that it doesn’t matter is common sense. You know that it doesn’t matter, but still somehow it nudges at your confidence if you give it room to. Teach yourself that it doesn’t matter by, as you say, living and speaking the truth.

    Be true to yourself. Do what you want and follow your own path, before even considering how people will regard you for it.

    As always, great post. Have a nice good one.

  • I’m much better than I used to be I still get moments where I revert to the judgment-fearing person I used to be. Usually I go through the routine of reminding myself of #2 and that gets me back to normal after a few minutes. It’s definitely the most powerful realization for me.

  • #1 and #7 are me - I am working on changing both. I do not need to worry about what others think of me, and yes, I always speak the truth. Old school here and brought up that if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything. I follow that every day.

    Every post I read is just awesome, and enjoy the comments from others very much. Thank you all. Very comforting.

  • Someone said way back when, “other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.” How true that rings…especially for those of us who project ourselves into the business of helping others to heal and grow. We hit their “tender spots” and it’s easy for them to project their pain onto us. Well written and compassionate post. Thanks!

  • #2 and #4 for me is what I always tend to think about when fearing people’s opinions. Most of the time people really don’t think of us as much as we think they do. As much as we don’t want to hear it, we’re not that important. But us being not important might be a good thing when it comes to fear of people’s opinion.

    Then again, even when I let myself fear other people’s opinions, I try to manage by using #4. I think to myself, does their opinion really matter? Most of the time I answer no. And if they do matter (probably a loved one), I’m usually comfortable enough to say anything to them anyways.

    Great post btw!

  • Great post, thank you! I catch myself, quite frequently, worrying about this all the time. The list you provided is going up in a discreet place on my office wall so I can use it to remind myself that most of the time, this is due to my over-active imagination and lack of confidence.

  • People may get confused because they might think statements like “don’t worry what anyone else thinks” or “don’t try to please other people” are giving us free reign to be a jerks. Perhaps it needs to be said that this assumes that you’re being a decent human being.

    There’s a huge difference between caring whether your neighbor gets upset if you park on his lawn and caring whether your neighbor gets upset that you have a pink car.

  • This post penetrated my whole being. Having struggled with insecurity for most of my life, I pretended to be someone else just to be likable.

    I was afraid of my boss thinking I was lazy, so I brought home my work and spent my weekends working instead of spending quality time with my family.

    My fear of being seen as stupid led me to triple and quadruple-check everything before I make a decision.

    All these focus on what others think led me to miss out on life. I stopped pursuing the things I love because I was too busy pleasing everyone else. I sacrificed my time just so others will not think ill of me.

    The turnaround came when I started to suffer physically. Even though I exercise a lot and do a lot of meditation and yoga, the sheer stress I imposed on my body was too much. I started to get sick more often and I was becoming irritable.

    I decided then to get some help, read books and devour blogs like Marc and Angel. I’m slowly making progress. Thank you for these incredibly helpful posts!

  • When I think about all the things I haven’t done because of fear of what someone else might think, it proves that I have eluded my own identity for quite some time. I feel cheated of all the chances I had to pursue something I believed in because someone (mostly, my father) would have an opinion that it was the wrong thing to do.

    On the other hand, I can think of so many situations in which I did something purely driven out of spite for his foul judgments. For example, he told me I wouldn’t get into the grad program I wanted, so I applied and got in just to throw it in his face. When I told him the news, all he said was, “Good job” which in turn, antagonized the overall pursuit. I am done making choices on behalf of the off chance that I might earn approval; because in the end, I need to earn my own stamp of approval or all my efforts would have been wasted.

  • I’m reading a book right now by Ken Robinson and he talks about how we live in two worlds often. The world of our own minds and what we think of ourselves and the world of others and what they think about us. The quote about knowing how seldom others think of us really stuck with me after reading this. The fear of what other people think halts me in my personal growth and doing what I want and love.

    We all have our own story to create and it’s fun when they match up and can be told together. But I really have no place telling someone else what to think or how to live their life story. Someone else’s opinion and what they want is not my problem. I want to please myself most often and think about me. I am the author of my own life, and I remind myself of that each week.

  • Greetings from India! And a lot of thanks for this post. It looked as if it was written for me only, as I am also planning to start my own blog and as soon as I finished writing the first post, I began to be worried and confused if I had written it too personal and what people would think of it. Now after reading your post, I don’t care anymore.

    Thanks a lot again. Keep up the good work!

  • This is so timely, thank you. I am about to make a life-altering job decision and I am finding that the only thing that is potentially holding me back from making the jump, is my fear of what people will say; my family, friends, colleagues and community and my current staff. I am so worried about how my leaving will affect THEIR lives. Your article helped me to realize that it is a huge waste of energy trying to make everyone happy. This is something that is out of my control and is not MY responsibility. While I will continue to acknowledge the opinions of others, I will strive to change my thinking patterns so that I do not weigh heavily on the opinions of others to direct my own life.

  • This post speaks to me, it’s been an issue of mine.

    I was teased in elementary school/junior high. Like you said, the phase disappears, but the damage was done. I began to form my all actions around others opinions.

    I eventually stopped doing things I loved, like piano, because my classmates thought it wasn’t “cool”.

    I also didn’t play for my high school hockey team. ALL my friends signed up… I didn’t. Many people questioned why I didn’t join; I was a great player. But I knew that I wasn’t as good as the AAA kids in the same league from my previous school, the ones who teased me in my early years. It prevented me from joining. I let the opinions of others guide my choices… It has been one of the biggest regrets of my life.

    The way I coped can be summed up by a Will Smith quote, “Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings, and emotions” I do what I love now, because I love to do it. #4 and #5 are so true.

    Nowadays, you can see me in full scrubs longboarding to my human dissection class, and getting down on my keyboard at home. There is a “benefit in being unique”, it’s called true happiness

  • Totally agreed with each of your thoughts here Marc. I am experiencing the calmness in my life after focusing on me instead of others. My mother used to say if you’re not taking care of yourself than nobody else does either. It’s important to be your own best friend first, rather than only seeking acceptance from others.

  • Marc, thanks for this insightful post. I often describe myself as a recovering “overachiever and people-pleaser,” and only in recent years has it finally hit home just how darn *much* my sense of self-worth has relied on the opinion of others. Which is ironic because, as you so eloquently describe here, that mostly consists of my own perception of what I *think* others think of me. :)

    So I have used your 7 phrases, and some close variants, to gradually “pep talk” myself into new ways of thinking and perceiving…and over time, they really do work!

    For example, due to a hearing sensitivity, I need to wear earplugs at my workplace. This can cause a moment of awkwardness when someone comes up and starts talking to me without realizing that I can’t hear until I pop out the plugs, and for a long time that embarrassed me deeply because I thought it looked “weird.” (And let’s face it, to some people it probably does.)

    In the beginning I’d over-explain, going on at length about my condition, until I noticed the glazed look in people’s eyes and it finally dawned on me…most of them SIMPLY DIDN’T CARE one way or the other.

    It’s taken time, but now I’m a lot more likely to catch myself in the middle of my own embarrassed reaction and say to myself, “Does what they think even matter? As long as I’m pleasant, polite, and doing my job well, they probably couldn’t care less…and even if they do, it’s not my problem anyway.” See? Sort of an amalgamation of some of your points. :)

    And the more I practice these inner pep talks, the more liberated I feel—finally—from what others may (or equally may not!) be thinking of me.

  • Thanks so much for this article, l too was an eternal people pleaser and feeling as though l never measured up, or was always “less than”. With lots of reading and work on myself l now know l was the one who felt as though l never “measured up” and l have been able to give up trying to be perfect. I now live my life as the person l am, warts and all and guess what? l’m enough!

  • Hello Marc and Angel,

    Thanks for an insightful post once again. I think most people can relate to the problem of fearing what everyone thinks of us. It is normal as human beings because we have become so aware about ourselves and others.

    I have a point I want to make about changing. 1 year ago I went from being a students drinking 5-6 times a week to becoming an Ironman crossing the finish line in August.

    People liked me being the student having fun all the time but people respected me even more when I made a conscious decision about chasing a dream. I was surprised about the reaction from my friends but it also tells me that as long as you support your decisions most people will support you as well.

    Take care,
    Anders Hasselstrøm

  • Marc & Angel,

    Thanks a lot for this post. I am in a situation in my life where I feel like some people are misunderstanding me for being who ever I am. This post really helped me to be clear of my thoughts and feeling so happy. Can’t thank enough you guys.

    One take away from this post is “If you find yourself feeling like a fish out of water, by all means find a new river to swim in. But DO NOT change who you are; BE who you are”.

  • These posts are so inspiring… They help me in my daily life and struggles. Keep it up!! Well done..:)..

  • Thank you so much for this post, especially this following sentence: “All these inconsequential details would vanish from your consciousness.” This is exactly what I told myself when taking a walk along the park. I should really concentrate and know what I DO want myself to be like and who I DO want myself to be. I hope that I can really change in this respect!

  • Wonderful thought for the Monday Morning Mind Set! In the words of the great scholar Dr. Seuss:

    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

    Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  • I have encountered people who think that being true to yourself means taking absolutely no consideration for those around them. Courtesy is not straying from your true self and acting courteously and selflessly actually tends to make people feel better about themselves. I think the trick is to (courteously) never change your opinion to suit others. Never be silent on a subject that is near to your heart. Never make yourself miserable over the option of another person no matter how important they are to you.

    My soon to be ex apparently spent a lot of time and effort trying to be who he thought I wanted him to be so I would not leave him. All he succeeded in doing was making himself thoroughly miserable. Nothing he did was anything I wanted. His perception of my critical nature existed nowhere but his own head. I am just sad that the real man has probably never been seen. As a result of making himself miserable he started a relationship with a much younger woman with a history of emotional problems. I am very sorry for them both. I see 2 desperately unhappy people chasing the circumstance that will finally allow them to be happy. I just pray they will discover just how much unhappiness they have manufactured.

  • I have been a people-pleaser and it got me nowhere because you cannot please everyone and some people can never be pleased! I found as a grew older the confidence to just do what felt right for me has increased and reading blogs like this one reinforces my new approach. Trying to please everyone leads to stress which they don’t feel - but you do.

  • Excellent post!

    I used to be a people pleaser, not because I wanted to, but because it’s what I saw as a child. Fast forward to now, and I am not a people pleaser. I also stopped worrying about what others think. “What others think of me is none of my business.” ~Dr. Wayen Dyer.

    If someone doesn’t like me, so be it. It’s like what Pastor Joel Osteen says, “Why are you trying to get people who won’t give you the time of day to like you when you have others in your life who do give you the time of day?” Good point.

    If you keep worrying about how the people in or out of your life don’t like you, you’ll miss those who are already in your life or who want to come into your life, the ones who, perhaps, can help you to the next level.

  • Very needed article - it’s talking about many people out there I am sure. And we should always remember and accept that we might fail to do so sometimes but we should never give up on trying cause it’s all good.

    I cope by reminding myself how assumptions I have made about other people’s opinion have turned out to be only a figment of my imagination, yet I have let it influence me which was a bad choice. Constant reminders are the key.

    Let us keep control of our lives and be our own heroes :)

  • Insecurities and fears of what others may say or do in reaction to my words or decisions has controlled my life for far too long. Although being a mother has helped - (I try to take advice I delegate out) I still find myself wondering if every time I say no to a request or choose not to change my plans because someone asks me to, if I have ruined my future with them. I was raised to think I must always put myself second, and have done so for so long that people do get angry with me sometimes when I say no, or let them know they are asking a lot of me. I totally believe that people rarely think of me at all- and I love this blog!! I will read it again. Thank you - I think you are awesome Marc and Angel!

  • Thank you very much for this. It really hits home in a number of ways for me, as many of your articles often do.

  • Terry Cole Whitaker, author of What You Think of Me is None of My Business, resolutely cleared my want to people-please. Her title became my mantra of defense when I begin to “conform” and thereby damage my authenticity.

  • “Opinions” - got to love them! Years ago, I decided to stop living my life based on other people’s opinions. The only exception to this rule is when someone who’s already been there in the past shares their opinion - like my coach.

  • What if one has to resign a job because of an incompetent boss who tries to hold one responsible for her behavior. Now I am having trouble getting a job because when my previous employer is contacted, which is required on applications, she can say any thing she wants and prevent me from being hired. What others think about you CAN hurt you in certain situations.

  • Awesome post. I use to care what people thought of me whan I was younger. After I read somewhere or heard someone speak on this vary issue it just clicked for me. Now I think I’m a little too far to the other side LOL. I totally cope by #1 and #2 as daily mantras. Thanks so much for your post and everyday blogs. I look forward to them religiously.

  • I like how much of your story is in this post Marc. I am definitely a people pleaser. When I realized how much it held me back and how much I had missed out on, I vowed to turn it around. But that did not work the way I wanted it to.

    It took a lot of deep thinking, but I came up with an alternate perspective: I like to make people happy, and I love to encourage people who are in bad way. Since I am still a work in progress, there is still more to do and more to become.

  • I agree with Christy King’s comment.

  • Just started reading M&A Hack Life through the Zite app. Glad I found you guys.

    This particular post nails it: the reason I haven’t been truly happy in my 52 years. It’s my biggest and probably only true barrier to my self-worth and happiness. Still working on rectifying it, and I’ll save this post and re-read it over and over.

    Thanks for a terrific and meaningful piece!

  • I made some poor career and financial decisions because I gave too much weight to what other people thought and by trying to do what I thought would be most acceptable to those around me. I ended up miserable and in debt. I wish I had this article while I was going through this struggle to get myself back on a happier track. These are great tips! It took me a long time to learn that the life choices I was making to try to please others were not really making the folks any happier. They were often still angry or wanting more from me. These days I find it helpful to set boundaries on how much action I will take based upon the opinion of others. The more I started listening to my own inner voice, the better my life became.

  • There are some great points here and some I do need to adopt more in everyday life. But I have to fundamentally disagree with points 3 & 4 when it comes to the workplace…

    3. Accept that someone else’s opinion is NOT your problem.
    Well, yes, it is my problem if they have formed a certain opinion of my abilities and are determining my future on that opinion. If you are judged, compensated and evaluated based on what THEY think instead of what YOU think, then it certainly is a problem for YOU, regardless of the fact that you feel you have done everything you can to convince them you are more valuable to the company.

    4. Ask yourself, “Does what they think even matter?”
    Really, the same premise here as #3. Yes, it does matter in that case. The text on this point states “How others see you is not important. How you see yourself means the world.” Just not true…if how my superiors see me in the workplace is not the same as how I see myself (and I feel I am very good at what I do), that is a problem.

    I don’t want to sound like I am downplaying the great points made here in this post…they are very helpful in many regards. I just don’t think they are completely applicable to business and someone’s position in the workplace.

  • Thank you for your wonderful e-mail. This is me all over the place. I too was that kid that people didn’t like or pick because of my thick glasses. I was always the odd one. I’m still going thru that but I will keep your post close to me and read it everyday. Thanks again and for all of your posts.

  • Love your posts, Marc and Angel, as they continually support and re-affirm to me things my heart already knows but sometimes forgets in the daily rat race. I am comforted also in the length of posts today. I am so not alone. Love and support to all who fight daily for the right to be who you are.

  • I am astonished!
    This is Excellent…Thank You!
    :) I’m a spiritual Billionaire now

  • Wow, this is so true. I have become free of this problem years ago but occasionally it rears it’s head. My worst time is when dealing with men. Needless to say three failed marriages and many other wrong male choices, I decided I needed to fix this, for myself. Why was I attracting the wrong Mr. Right? I saw the pattern of the type of men that have come into my life and it is the same type - the broken angry ones at life which make me want to help and fix them - you know “the project”.

    I finally realized that there was nothing I could do to make happy the situation, that their misery in life was self imposed, and now they had a scapegoat to blamed their misfortunes on - it was now all my fault they are miserable. Until I realized this, I would internalize their pain as my failure. I was so wrong, this had nothing to do with me. Learning to walk away was my greatest gift to myself.

  • Interesting ideas with a lot of merit. However I have one major problem with your blanket advice to be yourself and say whatever you want without worrying about other people. In a reasonable society, most people automatically edit their thoughts before speaking in order not to hurt or humiliate others. But there are those who do not care who they hurt as long as they are being ‘authentic.’ For example, my elderly mother is constantly vicious, rude and critical, both to complete strangers and her immediate family. All on the name of speaking her mind. If victims react, they are just being over sensitive. We have given her a pass because of her upbringing and have avoided conflict for years because confrontation only makes things worse. However. we recently decided as a family that age alone does not naturally guarantee respect.

    Your advice to speak your mind without worrying about other peoples’ feelings is a little simplistic and is all too often interpreted by sociopaths and narcissists as an excuse to excoriate and manipulate everyone around them.

  • This is so true. I remember one of my English teachers, Mrs. Luchansky, telling me that once you stop caring about what others say about you, your life changes forever. I think that’s happening to me right now. I’m getting closer to be an actor on theater or in Hollywood. My mom’s boyfriend’s daughter and her partner and their dogs now are moving to Santa Monica, California. I hope we see them soon. There are three theaters in my town and although I didn’t get one role, I might get another. Thank you for writing these blogs.

  • Hi,

    Thanks for writing this!

    I often don’t like to write on the internet because of this very thing. I am afraid if I have an opinion that is controversial, many who “look up” to me will be negatively or positively influenced, and I never want to be the cause of anyone’s mess ups. But this post brings to mind, that that type of thinking alone (or too often) may truly be paralyzing. (I do think it’s important to take other’s into consideration, and like someone said in an earlier post, you don’t want what you are saying to be misconstrued as permission to be dis-courteous and just plain kind. But so many of us tend more to err on the side of denying our own thoughts or being so afraid to stand alone that we fool ourselves into imagining that the whole world is thinking this or that. And it brings us no good thing. So thank you for sharing!

  • Wow Jake. So inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I love the comments on this blog. It’s such a great way to start the week.

    I also implemented all seven of these points almost three years ago and never looked back. It took me distancing myself from family and lifelong friends for most of that time, until I was strong enough not to revert back to old habits and insecurities in their presence. It was worth it, and when the time was right and I was ready, which happened only recently, they were right there waiting for me, as if I’d never left. It turns out, they weren’t all that attached to their opinions either. Haha!

    The one thing I’d add is that just like their opinion is not your problem, their reaction to your thoughts, feelings and actions are also NOT your responsibility, no matter how much they try to blame you for it. This is assuming you’re just being honest and true to yourself and not actually being a jerk, at least not intentionally. A rational person who cares about you and has your best interests at heart will know the difference. If you find yourself constantly apologizing and feeling like you’re walking on eggshells around someone out of fear of what they’ll think or how they’ll react to your truth for yourself, run, don’t walk, far, far away from that person and never look back. That is the epitome of a toxic relationship.

  • This is Awesome!!!!!

  • Powerful, and insightful post! I have been reading your website posts faithfully for a yr or so, and find such value in them! You both write so well, concise, and right the heart of every topic! I find all your posts relateable, easy to resonate, and therefore apply in daily life! Thank you for sharing your gift of insight! :)

  • A great article. I just wanted to share something my mother has always said to me: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

  • This is much easier with most people for me than it is with my family. I can choose the friends I have, not my family. It’s not easy to just brush off someone who you have to see every holiday that humiliates you in front of others you have to see on the same basis. My sister baits me into fights when others are around thinking that either I won’t bite because everyone is watching, or I will and embarrass my mom, who cares way too much what others think.

  • Great post. It’s really about being nice to others, wholeheartedly, without needing their approval be happy in life.

  • I have a blog.. It’s called Americangirlinholland.blogspot. When I started it I started it for me and for my family and friends. Somehow it’s taken off… no money but a nice little following around the world. But sometimes I think people wish I would just shut up but then have others begging me not to stop as they will never get to do some of the fun things I’m sharing.. so on I write… and I always try to remember.. I do it for me! Staying true to myself. Thank you so much for your blog. I stop by daily for inspiration!

  • Another masterpiece… I loved this article.

  • Wonderful post. Instead of thinking about what others will think all the time, it’s time we start checking in with ourselves.

  • Gotta love point #5 about being unique;

    Quite a lot of people (the old me included), seem to be trying to hide in the numbers of the crowd, assuming that if they don’t stand out, they won’t be seen or judged. They do their best to act, look and be like everybody else, thinking that their conformity will spare them the judgment of others.

    This strategy is simply ridiculous; it’s doomed to fail, and you will only be judged the harder for not having any individuality or backbone. (And if you actually did manage to become invisible to the judgment of others, it would be even worse; you’d be virtually ignored by the world, and you would live a life constantly fearing that someone might eventually spot you and pass judgement).

    Better to throw yourself out there and be judged for what you really are, than to hide and only have others see your outer, boring shell.

  • Gabi,
    The next time your sister does that, look at her with a puzzled, sympathetic look and say, “Hmm, you must be so unhappy.” and walk away. She might be so surprised and embarrassed, she says nothing further. But if she pursues you, and tries to argue with you, let her rant on while you have a bored expression on your face, and then say, “I see.” in a bored voice, and walk away. She’ll quit bothering you because you’re not reacting and staying cool and calm and it makes her look foolish.

  • The very first word I can say right now is WOWWWW!!!!!! I can’t even begin to express how I believe this article was written for me!!! Every single point, every behavior, every thought is how I live my life…actually as the article said…I’m not actually “living”!! I base my entire life on what others think of me & I base my self worth on what others think of me!! I live in fear of making mistakes and being ridiculed & talked about all the while the person that I really am is dying inside and can’t show the talents, dreams, hopes, etc. that are buried deep that I KNOW I’m capable of!!!

    My life-long dream…to be a singer…cannot bring myself to do it because I live in fear of messing up & being made fun of even though I’ve been told by people who have heard me sing that I NEED to do something with my voice!! Thank you for writing this…you just may have helped turn this woman’s life right around for the better!!! I just happen to “stumble” across this on Facebook this morning & this is something I’ve been struggling with GREATLY recently….meant to be I saw this today???….NO DOUBT in my mind!

    Gratefully and humbly blessed, Theresa.

  • I was terrified to tell people that my marriage was on the rocks, and then even more scared to admit we were divorcing. I was shocked that people were not the judgmental jerks I was expecting — quite the opposite. I received a lot of support and no one questioned my decisions. Even though I was scared of gossip and others’ opinions, I did the right thing by getting divorced.

  • …”attempting to be someone else will always leave us feeling empty inside. Why? Because what we appreciate about the people we admire is their individuality – the qualities that make them unique. To really copy them, we need to develop our own individuality, “…

    Great way to frame this concept! Kinda puts the whole Nike/Michael Jordan “Be Like Mike” marketing pitch in a new unhealthy light.

  • I love and am 100% for each of these methods. I’d like to add one that is often either neglected or misunderstood…

    Each of us is part of the grand design of life. We belong to something and/or someone. If you want to call it God, or infinite intelligence, or the Universe, or the Divine plan…I think the name is less important that the presence. But when you realize you were SUPPOSED to show up, and your presence influences, dignifies and honors those around you - faults and all - it gets kinda hard to worry too much about what folks are thinking. :)

  • I really like this post. And I see you have a book. I’m all over it!

  • Great tips, can definitely relate to all of them, especially love no 2!

  • I always find it so important how people think about me, as a youngin I was really insecure, now when I walk through a street, i’m looking for people who are looking or staring at me, waiting for them too judge with their minds. But I guess its my imagination, scared of what people think of me. It’s time to let that go and enjoy myself, all that stressing about what other people think of me is over.

    Thank you for this amazing article, you guys always enlighten me in times of need.

  • Thank you for this beautiful post. I always worry so much about whether others like me or not, that I often let myself be stepped on, used, and become worn down. I have to learn to be myself and set my limits. It’s a work in progress, but it helps to see things from this different perspective!

  • Thank you for those words of wisdom, I needed them. It’s hard to move if you fear you’re going to be judged about everything. I have moved anyway, but I have cared too long and for all the wrong reasons what others thought of me… It held me in chains of fear. I recently stop being friends with someone because they needed to be the center of attention and always allowed their children to disrespect me and lie to me. Well that had to end - I will not accept that selfishness and disrespect from anyone. That weight is gone and I feel better. My children haven’t enjoyed being around her kids in years, that should have been a clue to me. Finding my voice and living as ME has got to be the only choice for my personal freedom. I don’t want anyone ever trying to take that freedom away from me. Simply, I’m not going to question and second guess myself just because a friend is not comfortable with the “new and better” me. Great message of encouragement. Thanks!

  • The first two people a child wants to please are its parents. I think the kind of sensibility about what peers or other think of the child depends on how the parents show their appreciation of what the child accomplishes or what it is not accomplishing. The parent teaches the child how to cope with success or failure. If the parents are themselves embarrassed about failures for the child, the child will learn this behavior. When the parent is taking a failure of the child as a challenge, it also will not matter to the child, overly, what others are thinking.

  • @Christy King: Agreed. As I stated above, that why our mantra should be: “This is my life, my choices, my mistakes and my lessons. As long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”

    @ JoAnne: It’s inspiring to hear that these words are being used as daily reminders. Thanks for putting us up on your bulletin board. ;-)

    @Nila Sweeney: Sounds like you’ve made a miraculous turnaround. Congrats.

    @Heather D: I hit that same wall and made that same decision many moons ago. Good for you.

    @Matthew Palka: I read it and loved it! =)

    @Vishal: Congrats on starting your blog. Write for YOU. Write the words that help you think and grow -the ones that move you.

    @Stephanie: Good decision. Not only is pleasing everyone a waste, it’s totally impossible. Good luck with the next step.

    @All: As always, thanks so much for sharing your insight. Angel and I are about to catch a flight, but I’ll jump back online soon and respond to more comments. For now, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes, which is a perfect companion to this article:

    “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”
    ―Frederick Douglass

  • This is a wonderful article. I know way too many people who think they have to please others and live up to everyone else’s expectations. It’s so important in life to do what you want, not what others think you should do and what you think others want you to do. Do what you think is best for you and your life. #hatersgonnahate

  • I too, as many of you, have been always looking for the approval of others. It’s really hard with family, and in the workplace. I was lucky for 33 years to have had good jobs and great bosses to work for, but for the last 8 years I have been in an atmosphere that is slow (if at all) to praise and quick to punish for even the smallest thing. It’s a very sad way to earn a living, but I take comfort that I will be retiring in 17 months! An odd kind of perk is that I have learned I need to do my best, but give up worrying about others. I can’t give more than my best. At the end of the day, what I feel about myself means more than what anyone else thinks about me. Maybe this job was a blessing in disguise to teach me this.

  • I wish you’d included something about fearing what family members think. I dated someone who was so ruled by what his parents and siblings thought that it prevented him from living an authentic life.

  • @John: Every piece of advice has its exceptions. In the workplace there are situations where you must follow a certain set of rules wherein the opinions of others will matter for your career development. But that doesn’t mean you have to BE someone you aren’t. The key is to align your career path with your values and the results you want for yourself.

    @Vicki o: Again, if you aren’t hurting anyone else, I believe you can walk your own path with minimal interference from others. But you should be aware of how your actions affect others. For the most part, I agree with your sentiments.

    @Giselle: Great idea. We will add this to our idea file for future posts.

    @All: Angel and I just finished reading all of your comments for this post. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. Now it’s time to put the finishing touches on my latest article… look for it soon.

  • Wow! Excellent article! Thank you so much.

  • As i flow deeper in my creative endeavors certain people have dropped off. Typically judgemental cynical types and that is okay. I am big on how people leave me feeling, as we get older we re-meet these “familiar spirits”. So based on that I may decide if I need to even full engage certain people, but I try and give people a real chance, bc I don’t want to be cynical by acting like I have seen it all. Sometimes people surprise me and it keeps me grounded and it is comforting to know that I do not know or have seen it all.

  • The Four Agreements, yeah! So simple, so basic and yet so profound. Completely changed my perception of life and the way we live it.

  • I have been stuggling with this for so long! I hope each time I read this post I will be encouraged. To finally be independent of my biggest worries. Now that I have allowed it to control many of my relationships, I have to take control. For so long I have tried to be so careful. …. Don’t say something that may hurt someone, always encourage others, openly thank everyone for their help and friendship, fearful that I may offend anyone at any moment by a simple word or comment,,,, that my own feelings have been compromised. I have people in my life that are always pointing out my insecurities and worries . My flaws are the focus of the conversation, forgetting that we are all perfect in our own way. I regret that I have become this way … careful replaced with fear ande nervousness. I thank you for writing this post. I no longer feel alone in my struggle.

  • I want to say a big thank you to Marc and Angel for your timeless and inspiring posts, and to everyone who commented on this post, you are really doing a great job. I was an addicted people pleaser, always seeking approval from people, and like you said it’s a waste of time and often drains one of life itself. It feels good to know that ‘those that matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter’.

  • What else can I say except “thank you.”

  • Thank you for the awesome article. You will never be you if you’re always concerned about what other people think about you. :)

  • Loved this piece!
    I’m awful at what people think of me and always have done. Entering into my 40th year and this has plagued me for majority of my life. Effected friendships/relationships and my direction in life.ive decided now is the time to work at ridding this from my life. Would never want my kids to pick up this habit. So bad that I’ve organised a party and so worried that no one will turn up, anyone who does turn up won’t enjoy themselves and also don’t gave many “real ” friends to invite. Wish I hadn’t bothered! What I really want to feel is “yay I’m gonna have my nearest and dearest with me for a few hours of laughter and celebration!”
    Thus is my year - I’m gonna make a change!

  • I have gone through quite a tumultuous time over the last 18 months dealing with a severe physical assault, another attempted sexual assault and a divorce, and then an employment layoff. After being laid off from my job with a severance package, I took sometime to travel and get away before securing employment. I actually enjoyed this time and focused on who I am and what I want going forward. As is often with divorces, I didn’t travel in the same social circles as much, but whenever I returned home I would often only see old friends when they wanted to relay what was being said about me. This hurt me a lot because, I was very proud of my decision to leave a destructive relationship and instead of my friends being there for me, they all just judged me and made comments about my character under the guise of being worried about me. I spent a lot of time worrying about what they thought until I finally decided that they don’t deserve to effect my life in this way any more. I certainly found out who my real friends are during this period, but it is still tough to lose closeness with people and then on top of that, have them make negative comments about you when you are going through a very difficult period. I really enjoy this website and it has helped me dearly.

  • Amazing post. I’ve struggled with this myself and honestly still do to an extent. It’s OK, self improvement is fun!

    It’s really true that people really aren’t thinking of you as much as you think of yourself. And truth be told, whether they are or not is their own business, not ours.

    It’s hard giving yourself permission to be you. Especially if it’s been beaten into you from a young age that you are not… up to par?

    But it’s so liberating loving yourself. Relationships are fuller, more meaningful and longer lasting.

    I think Mark Twain said something like, If you always tell the truth you never have to remember anything. That applies to telling the truth about yourself. In other words, being yourself.

    It can be a difficult path. For sure. Old habits die hard. Your list is spot on, though.

    Thanks for the post! Funny how things come along sometimes at just the right time. (I know, I’m half a year late to the party. Still, read it when I needed it.)

    Vince

  • Notes to myself …..

    Don’t speak so loudly ….volume does not make you correct nor interesting , just annoying .

    Leave space between your thoughts , sentences and even your words…..all things ….that are allowed to breath , do better .

    Shut your mouth ……and be amazing . Nothing SPEAKS so loudly as silence and action .

    Terseness is energy contained . Explanation is energy given ….YOU are ENERGY ….is the value of YOU …..valued by those you give to? You …DO NOT!!!….OWE…. everyone an explanation…..not by any stretch of the imagination .

  • I had this post bookmarked for the longest time. I finally read it today and it has motivated me to become a more confident person. As of the moment I was having trouble telling someone that I do not like them or want them in my life. I just didn’t want to be mean, but like you said, I have been fake. I need to move beyond this relationship.

  • This makes me feel better and strong about the decisions that I have to make. I am done trying to please the whole world at my emotions expense. While they are pleased with what thet want I am left alone suffering emotionally and crying. Its time for change. Marc & Angel. Thank you very much. You have no idea how you have just changed my life.

  • Will try this!!!
    Fear of judgement has stopped me basically from being happy. It has made me be very insecure, so insecure that I can’t event date a guy because I fear of what people might think of me. It also has stopped from doing stuff I love to do like dancing. Even up to the clothes I wear. It sad that it has taken over my life but I try to fight it everyday and I think I’m making progress . Not fully recovered but taking baby steps to reach this goal! Pleasing everyone is impossible and I have come to learn that it’s my life and my happiness not theirs.

  • I love this article. I have been living in fear for 4 years now. I had a traumatic event happen in 2010 and went from super confident, not caring what others thought at all, to now..being self conscious, paranoid about people looking at me and judging, and its a horrible way to live! That’s a fact. So, this is really helping me! I know its all in my head consciously, but its hard to turn off the paranoia of it all. Esp. when you’ve trained yourself for 4 years to live in fear and worry and focus on all the negative and what others want from me. So..its gonna take time also to train myself to not worry and fear what others think about me. But, I’ll get there! Thanks for this help!

  • Your article really hit a nerve. I have been searching for this all my life, you have put it so simply and yet it has registered so deeply.

    I have lived in chronic fear and anxiety all my life. My childhood was filled with fear, anxiety, emotional and physical cruelty and isolation. I learned to please my parents in a desperate attempt to get some kind of love and acceptance which never came. In my young adult life I let them continue treating me in a way that was totally unacceptable, I made sure I was there for them but could never speak up to them, I was petrified of the consequences. So many awful things happened to me that shouldn’t have because they never had ‘my back’ so to speak, there was no one to protect me. Eventually I developed severe panic attacks, agoraphobia for years and had a constant lump in my throat that affected me wanting to eat, developed insomnia and health issues. When I tried one day to explain to them how much I was suffering ( this took immense courage) and asked if we could all work together to create a happier situation I was persecuted and disowned, that was 22 years ago, they never spoke to me again, they moved 2000 kms away and turned my siblings and family friends against me, I have no family to speak of which has saddened me greatly.

    Did I realise what I was doing at the time, no. I then proceeded to become even more of a people pleaser with my own family, in-laws and friends. I had been abandoned by my own flesh and blood and I was convinced that ‘ I was not good enough’, how could I be, my own parents didn’t love or want me. Time to work even harder, perfectionism was a good way of showing everyone a perfect look, a perfect home, perfect life. On the outside no one ever suspected, I did such a good job. Meanwhile I couldn’t leave the house unless I was with my husband, cried all the time, no one even cared or missed me, I missed out on all my children activities because I couldn’t go, I was isolated and alone. Now my children are young adults, I have bent over backwards for them, cleaned, cooked, paid for most things, supported them emotionally, had them living with me over and over. Did they do anything for me, no way. Did I ask, no way. Have they used and abused me, yes indeed.

    They have all left now but still cause great heartache, I am to blame for all their problems, but I am also expected to fix them. I’m sorry for the lengthy story but I want to drive home to others the damage that is done to ourselves and our loved ones by feeling that we have to please others to be loved and accepted as human beings. I believed that by doing what I did I was loving them unconditionally. I had no idea what I was doing and no one explained this to me, so please stop as it only destroys our life. I look back and deeply regret the quality of life I missed out on. Right now I feel that I have lost everything. The close happy family I thought I was creating is far from it. I hope this helps someone because this is not living.

  • This type of fear has its roots in childhood, usually a childhood with too much conflict, rejection and fear; however to get over a severe fear about what others think of one, I’ve found that it is necessary to go back into the deep feelings that are stored at a cellular level in the body; otherwise it’s just trying to intellectualize oneself out of the fear, and the fear has a life of its own, (it can even feel like “life or death” to us if someone doesn’t approve of us, or if someone is judging us.)

    Try a method called “The Journey” by Brandon Bays. I found this method to be really helpful to go back and feel and then let go of fears that have their roots in childhood.
    best wishes

  • This article really made me think, now I will ask her out. Time to live life without fear.

  • I am currently undergoing the change from existing to living. Thank you for this article as it will remain favourited and perused many times after I post this comment. Keep making a difference in other’s lives Sir, for you do it well and it really does wonders!

    Namaste,

    Jason

  • Oh my goodness, whilst reading this amazing piece something dawned upon me. My own family invariably seemed to be dissatisfied with me when I was in a relationship with a partner who was either successful or strong willed, but if my partner was weaker and more malleable they were noticeably happier! Sadly I was affected by this and made decisions based more on what was expected of me than what I am seeing now to be what I actually wanted myself. I’m left cold and saddened :(

  • real nice blog… love you guys. keep it up!

  • Great article, I guess I was meant to stumble upon on it, because I have been living a life of pleasing everyone and needing their approval for some years now. I’ve also thrown away many opportunities in life because I was worried what other people thought of me. It’s taking a toll on me, I’ve gotten to the point that I have anxiety issues and anger issues, lashing out at the people who are there for me the most, my wife and two kids. I need to start today and turn my life around and I thank you for this article, I feel I found it for a reason.

  • Thanks for changing my world!!! :)

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