How to Let Go of What Other People Think
Monday October 8, 2012

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“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

Walking down the sidewalk, in the hallways at work or school, through boutiques or at your favorite restaurant, you observe glances, stares and perhaps comments as you go about your business. Consequently, some of us (many of us at one time or another) begin to, almost without thinking, fidget, lowering your head slightly or feel a bit comfortable. Why? Honestly, there is no real reason except for the reason you’ve created in your head. In this case, the reason is one in which you have attached to what you perceive to be negative judgment by those around you whether you know them or not. In fact for some, this misperception prevents them from venturing out and trying new things, dressing in a style they’ve been curious about or doing things that have always piqued their interest. But no longer.

Today, I want to convince you to let go of others’ judgments – real or perceived. I want you to liberate yourself, thus helping yourself create a more fulfilling, creative and enriching life. While is has been said many times that most people are too worried about themselves to notice what’s going on with them, the truth is, we know people judge because you and I have most likely been guilty of passing judgment a time or two in the past ourselves. But today I’d like to ask you, in what way does passing judgment on others help us in our every day lives and in pursuing our dreams? It doesn’t. It simply does not aid us at all, and actually depletes energy that can be better used to help propel our own dreams and ideas forward.

The one aspect that comes just before we judge is observation, and it is observation that can be helpful. It is observation that can be used constructively to help us and others learn, grown and gain inspiration. We see a way of dressing that is inspiring and we try to mimic it in our own style, or conversely, we see a behavior that is offensive and we learn through observation what not to do. But it is when we take these negative observations and use them in a destructive fashion (gossip, jumping to assumptions or trying to bring someone down with a rude comment) that turns a positive into a negative.

Knowing that we will never be able to bring to a halt criticism or the judgment of others as it is completely out of our own control, we must then accept responsibility for what we can control and how we let it affect us and our daily lives.

Here are a few ways to combat the judgment of others and let it go, creating a habit of paying it no mind:

1. Understand that their judgment has very little to do with you. Accept that those who judge are actually reflecting their own insecurities, fears and frailties which have nothing to do with you what-so-ever.

2. Become grounded and confident in who you are and what you are doing. People who mock, tease or try to tear down others are less likely to continue to do so when their target doesn’t back down or ignores them completely. When you are certain of yourself, your actions and your choices, you are less likely to waiver and the “bullies” are less likely to continue to pounce.

3. Broaden your own perspective. For me, travel (especially international travel, but it needn’t be the only remedy) has broaden my understanding of what it means to live well. If we only experience the small world we’ve grown up in as the only way to live happily, it is easier to pass judgment (ignorantly so) on other behaviors we don’t understand or have never seen before. By traveling, what I’ve learned is that there are endless ways to live well, and the beauty is that not one way is the only way. When you realize this, upon your return, it is easier to stand your ground knowing that you are living in a way that best suits you, even if it is not what others are used to.

4. Fall in love with the life you are living. Get busy chasing your goals and dreams. Fill your days with to-dos that bring you joy and lift your mood. When you become enamored with the choices you’ve made and the life you are building for yourself, you no longer have time to analyze, fret and stress about what others might be thinking about your decisions.

5. Master your emotions. Our emotions can be a very powerful master if we shrink to their every demand. In Eckhart Tolle’s widely acclaimed book A New Earth, he explains a simple process on how to control our emotions (good and bad). First, become aware of what your are feeling (fear, embarrassment, worry, etc); second, observe this particular emotion with your mind (rationally and objectively); third, understand that if you are noticing it, it can’t be a part of you; and lastly, watch the emotion disappear. Upon understanding objectively why you are feeling the way you are feeling, you are mastering your emotions as you choose to let it go and not let it provoke you into doing something you might later regret or allow it to hold you back from doing what you wish to do.

6. Stop Assuming the Worst. Most people aren’t as interested in our actions, appearance and thoughts as we think. Let them do their thing, and get on about the business of doing yours because truthfully, “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind” what you do, as long as you are being true to yourself.

Once you are able to let go of what others think, you will feel a burden lift. You will feel a weight of pressure remove itself allowing you to breathe deeper and step forward with more confidence as you begin to live the life that is calling your name, begging you to enjoy. Do you have an itch to swap your contacts for glasses in order to change your style? Do it! Want to investigate how you can begin your very own business? Make an appointment with a mentor in the business community you admire. Want to see that new Indie film that came out last week, but no one wants to go with you? Go by yourself and enjoy it without interruption!

With our actions, we define what a fulfilling life looks like, and if we cower to the assumed judgments of others, we are limiting the amazing opportunities life has waiting to share with us. So today, begin shedding the burden of others’ opinions and choose to dare greatly as you begin living the life you’ve been dreaming about.

16 thoughts on “How to Let Go of What Other People Think

  1. This is really inspiring post. I believe also as we mature we can deal better with understanding how to stop worrying what might other people thing. It’s such an impediment for success to be able to overcome often imaginative worries of what might others think of us. As I am thinking about a new career and how to live a full life this topic often crosses my mind. I just ordered the book you mentioned in this post. Can’t wait to get it!

  2. I love it when you write articles like this, they are truly inspiring and always make me feel refreshed and energized. 🙂 I think you must be a great teacher and a wonderful example to the children in your classroom. You come across as such a warm, sincere person who has the right ideas about how life should be lived.

    Look forward to the next article! Have a great week.

  3. This is just the thing I needed to read today. I have spent the day worrying about everything including what others think. But tomorrow I will not!! I shall be putting into practice all the points you have made. Thank you Shannon

  4. What an inspiring post. I agree that in freeing the thoughts from ourselves, it allows the energy to be spent in more productive and fruitful manners.

  5. Great post! As a travel addict, I especially love this line: “By traveling, what I’ve learned is that there are endless ways to live well, and the beauty is that not one way is the only way.” 🙂

  6. I think the most significant thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is realizing that most people’s judgement as very little to do with me and much more about how they feel about themselves. Once I realized that, my entire attitude changed.

  7. I would definitely say that more and more over time, I’ve let go of what others think of me. It certainly has made me feel lighter and also more confident just because I act without fear of what those around me are thinking.

  8. This post really hit home for me. I am an American living in Italy, and unfortunately, your number 6 doesn’t really apply here. Most people here are extremely interested in other’s actions, appearance and thoughts…especially appearance. Being aware of this, it has caused me to change the way I do many things so that I would fit in, from the way I dress, to how I eat and how I’m raising my son. I’ve automatically changed to blend in and taken for granted that their way must be the “right” way because they seem so convinced about it and so judgmental towards anyone different. Your post has reaffirmed for me what I already knew deep down: this type of behavior is their shortcoming and I don’t want to be another cookie-cutter image like all of them are. I have the advantage of knowing how people in other countries live their lives and I want to take what suits me from both. Just like you said in point 3, “… stand your ground knowing that you are living in a way that best suits you, even if it is not what others are used to”. Great post, thanks Shannon!

  9. WOW!!! I read this insightful article three times, and have shared it with a couple of colleagues already! We all fall into this ‘people-pleasing, conformity’ trap more often than we’d like don’t we? This is a great reminder to simply be oneself. Ironically, it is only when we are at peace with ourselves, freed from self-obsession, that we can truly find time to reach out to those around us, isn’t it? Thanks, Shannon for the reminder!

  10. Thank you for this wonderful post! This hits home for me, as I unfortunately still care far too much about what others think of me, my appearance, and my actions. Food for thought, for sure!

  11. Love this one, Shannon, especially the bit about travel. 🙂 And having turned 30 this year, I’ve noticed I’m significantly more comfortable in my own skin than I was even 5 years ago. It comes more easily now. It can be exhausting to always be tiptoeing through life, worried about pleasing everyone else. Your insight really resonated with me. Thank you!

  12. great post shannon once again.This is a lesson that I am learning.I turned 50 last year and have made a lot of changes this past year and continue to do so,some easier than others but very liberating.some I wish I had done a long time ago.Still I feel great.thanks once again for your great post.

  13. Thank you very much Shanon!!!!!

    I’m a firmly believer in sereendipity and just in this difficult times ( for me and a lot of people in my country, Spain) I have realised that the only way to be happy it’s be myself no matter what other people think… even the significant others… Now I only need one thing: COURAGE…

    Lots of love from Barcelona

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