Do you ever worry about what other people think of you?
One afternoon I was going to a yoga class with a friend. When we arrived, the class had been cancelled. We were already in our gear and in the mood for movement, so we walked to my local park to do yoga instead.
Two minutes into our yoga practice, my friend started to freak out about that people were watching us. She pointed at two guys who were literally miles away having a conversation not paying us any attention. But my friend was too embarrassed about doing yoga in a public park to continue and so we stopped.
With all love and respect to my friend, this is a great example of how caring what others think robs you of your life and fulfillment.
Does this sound somewhat familiar? Can you think of any situations where you're not being authentic or going after your goals because you're worried about the opinion of others?
If so, here are 8 steps to stop worrying about what other people think.
1. Forgive yourself for being human.
Everyone worries about what other people think of them. It is a trait that we inherited from our caveman ancestors. Back in their day, you needed to belong to a tribe or you would be left alone in the wilderness with almost no chance of survival. So our brains developed this rather frustrating habit of constantly looking to see what others are thinking about us.
The good news is you are not alone -- you don't need to feel bad, ashamed or abnormal for having this fear. Forgive yourself for being human and have compassion for yourself.
2. Question whether it truly matters.
When we worry about what others think of us, we are most likely assuming that their opinion of us actually matters or means something about us.
The truth is that what other people think about us is colored by their own experiences, prejudices, beliefs and perceptions -- so in many cases their opinion probably has nothing to do with us or our behavior at all.
It's also worth questioning the assumption that having everyone like us is an achievable or worthwhile goal -- there is probably no one in the world who has an 100 percent approval rating, so why would you put this kind of pressure on yourself? It's simply not within your control to have everyone approve of you.
3. Choose whether to take feedback on board.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "No one can make you feel inferior with your consent."
We can't control what other people think of us -- but we can control our reaction to their opinion. No one can diminish or reject you without your active participation.
If someone has a particular view of you, you can choose to say "thanks, but no thanks" to that view and not take it on board. It's really up to you to determine whether their feedback is helpful or valid.
4. Learn to refer to yourself.
Instead of looking to the world for validation and approval, look within and approve of yourself. Get clear on what your values and truths are -- and then you can let those guide your actions and decisions, not the opinion of others.
Make love and intuition your internal GPS. If something feels right or true to you -- trust that. If you are worried about what others think -- ask yourself: "What would love do here?" Love is a better guide than the opinion of the peanut gallery.
5. Feel your feelings without the story.
Fear is not a stop sign -- you can feel the discomfort and vulnerability of being potentially judged by others, without it stopping you from doing what you desire to do, or know in your heart you were born to do.
Next time you catch yourself worrying about what others think -- pause, take a few deep breaths, and notice the sensation of fear or worry in your body. Notice how it's simply a physical sensation -- it doesn't actually dictate what you do next. If you don't add a mental story to it about what the feeling means, you are free to proceed as you choose.
6. Get your priorities straight.
Let's get one thing straight -- you didn't come here to be liked or win unanimous approval. That is not the purpose of life.
You came here to be you, to do what you love, to live in accordance with your unique soul and destiny, and to walk your own path -- which no one else has walked in the history of the world. You also came here to be the presence of love.
Each day, remember your priorities and you will start to lose your preoccupation with what others are thinking.
7. The right people will love you for who you really are.
When you are yourself and you do what is right and true for your soul, the right people will love and accept you -- and those who don't were not meant for you anyway. Your vibe attracts your tribe -- so be yourself and do what is true for you.
As Dr Seuss famously wrote: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."
8. Turn your light of consciousness outward.
Worrying about what other people think of us is a sign that we are lost in our thoughts -- instead of placing our awareness on the beauty of the present moment and how we can be of service to the world around us.
Every encounter with another human being is an opportunity to bless them and wish them well. If you approach each moment with an attitude of "how can I serve you universe?" you will find that you are no longer worried what others think because your light of consciousness is now shining outward on the world.