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Stop Worrying What Others Think

Written by Karl Perera BA, MA, DipLC
Updated: November 22nd, 2020

self esteem and anxiety

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One major cause of low self esteem can be listening to what others say about you. One possible reason for this, according to this interesting study, is that our level of self esteem depends on how socially accepted we feel. The study adds that if others speak negatively towards us, we might feel excluded, resulting in an increase in low self esteem. To boost your self esteem, therefore, you need to stop worrying what others think. Easier said than done? Let’s find out…

Before we go into the reasons why you may be worrying about what others think of you, how can this hurt you and what should you do to stop worrying?

Worrying about what others think of you can result in low self esteem. According to Leary et al. (1995), we are social animals and in order to check our social status and inclusion we constantly notice what others think of us. When this becomes worrying excessively, our self esteem can be negatively affected.

If this is what you do, there are steps you can take to stop worrying about the thoughts of others and build your self esteem and confidence again. With many years of writing about self esteem, both online and in print, I’m here to show you how. Keep reading!

Do you worry too much what others think?

It is good to be a sensitive person and consider other people’s feelings and thoughts… However, you need to establish a balance between being considerate of others feelings and not worrying about what others think of you. After all, their thoughts towards you are only their opinion. They are not reality.

Why is worrying about what others think a problem?

According to Leary and Downs (1995), the vast majority of research done in this field shows that we have an extremely important need to build and maintain our levels of self esteem.

Worrying too much about what others think is behaviour connected with low self esteem (Farooqi and Intezar, 2009). So, if you notice that this is something that you do, you may be suffering from self esteem issues. Boosting your self esteem and confidence may help to reduce how much you care about what others are thinking.

If you worry excessively about what others have on their minds and how they might be judging you, it may cause negative thinking and certain problems such as self consciousness. It is something you need to address if you wish to become more positive in your actions and thoughts and if you want to improve your confidence and social skills.

Another problem associated with excessive worrying about what others think is that it can cause you to become a people pleaser. Many of us do become people pleasers, as this way of behaving does have many positive advantages in life, in terms of career and personal life. However, those who try too hard to please others can become neglectful of the self and may be easily manipulated by others.


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One example of how being a people pleaser can have negative effects on all aspects of life, and may even lead to depression or the breakdown of a marriage is given by Jason Whiting, in this faculty publication (Brigham Young University, 2016).

In short, worrying about what others think gives others power because you are letting them control how you feel and behave. You need to reclaim your personal power to feel good about yourself once more. This also involves you taking responsibility for the decisions that are in your own interests. This is not selfish, as long as your wishes never hurt anybody else.

Poor Decision-Making

Suffering from low self esteem or a lack of self confidence, you may make decisions according to other’s expectations, rather than according to your own wishes and feelings. When you feel unhappy afterwards, you may blame yourself. Blame can become self hate… be careful, you may project this onto others and ask the question: why does everybody hate me? This can only make everything worse. You definitely don’t want this!

Worrying about the opinions of other people may lower your self confidence

Here are some of the ways that this may affect your thinking and behaviour:

You may behave how other people expect you to. You may not be true to yourself. You might feel you are denying yourself the right to live your life the way you want to.

You could have problems relaxing in challenging social situations because you may worry what others are thinking about you – this will make it likely you will make more mistakes and feel less confident. In this way, you are likely to be unable to cope with criticism from others.

Speaking in public can become a nightmare. You may focus on the audience rather than on your performance, feeling the attention as they stare. This can make you nervous and uncomfortable instead of relaxed. All because you may be wondering what they are thinking. This makes for a performance limited by poor self confidence.

How to stop worrying what others think about you

If you want to build your self confidence and your self esteem, you need to stop caring so much what others think and value your own opinion. This means increasing your trust in your own beliefs, opinions and thoughts.

Fear of other people’s opinions is also known as FOPO. As Michael Graves explains, FOPO can be overcome through a program of self awareness.

Note from me: You can stop worrying how other people may be thinking because I and many others have done just that. I know it’s possible…so how can you change?

Ask yourself why you care about what other people think, and challenge this. – Are you seeking other people’s approval because you have low self esteem or lack self confidence?

Understand that you are only guessing about the thoughts of other people, you may be completely wrong. You cannot know what is truly on their mind. Why are you letting this guessing game affect you so negatively?

A valuable tip
Photo by J W, Unsplash

Now here’s a great tip for you:

Build your Self Confidence – with Hypnosis downloads – quick, easy and guaranteed to help you build your confidence (prepared by experienced psychologists and gets my full recommendation). This self hypnosis audio download will boost your self-confidence, help you trust your own thoughts and care less about what other people are thinking.

Learning to be more assertive and say no is also important because there are times when you should put your priorities first. If you are worrying about what others think all the time then how can you put your own priorities first? Assertiveness training can really help you, so find out more now.

Some More Ideas to Help You Stop Worrying About Others Thoughts

  • List the things that you would like to do in your life and make a decision to achieve them. Don’t let others tell you how you should or shouldn’t act. Own and take responsibility for achieving your goals.
  • If you catch yourself wondering what someone else thinks, or talking about this, then stop and consider how you feel and decide what is more important your opinion or theirs.
  • Make a decision to change. Decide to change your thought pattern and you will be half way there…
  • Download this helpful what others think self-hypnosis program – start being yourself and feel good about that…
  • Instead of assuming what others think, ask them directly. You may be pleasantly surprised.

One word of caution 

Do you feel abandoned by family and wonder what to do? This kind of experience can really affect how you worry about what others think of you. You may become a people pleaser or worse, all because you lacked love in your life.

You may truly be justified in believing others have abandoned you, but perhaps not. Either way, you need to become stronger and not allow others to have power over what you are. You are not to blame for what may have happened to you. Get help if you need it, and try as hard as you can to help yourself too. if it gets too much, seek professional guidance, help is always available.

Remember the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me?”

– It’s true. Why do you let other peoples opinions affect you so negatively? Thoughts are harmless – they can only hurt you if you let them. Remember, you give others the power they have over you. Their thoughts and actions are only important if you allow them too be.

– I’m sure I lost so many years worrying about what others thought of me and I was trapped in a cage of negative thinking and fear. I didn’t like who I was at all. Now I realise I was mistaken the whole time.

– Improving your self esteem and confidence is the right way to go and I hope that you can free yourself the way I freed myself because you deserve better …. Good luck!

Get a copy of my audio CD “A More Confident You” – stop worrying now about what others think and skyrocket your self-confidence!

References

  • Farooqi, Y. N., & Intezar, M. (2009). Differences in self-esteem of orphan children and children living with their parents. Journal of the Research Society of Pakistan46(2).
  • Graves, M. (2019). How to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think of You. Harvard Business review Website. https://hbr.org/2019/05/how-to-stop-worrying-about-what-other-people-think-of-you
  • Leary, M. R., Tambor, E. S., Terdal, S. K., & Downs, D. L. (1995). Self-esteem as an interpersonal monitor: The sociometer hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(3), 518–530. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.68.3.518
  • Leary, M. R., & Downs, D. L. (1995). Interpersonal functions of the self-esteem motive. In Efficacy, agency, and self-esteem (pp. 123-144). Springer, Boston, MA.
  • Whiting, J. B. (2016). The Deception of Depression: How a Melancholy Mood Can Sink a Marriage.

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Website Author and Editor Bio

Photo of Karl Perera, MA, DipLC Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA) and author of Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Confidence.