The other day I was getting ready to take my dog for a walk when I decided to wear my bulky gym sneakers, instead of the shoes I usually wear. When I put them on and stood up, I looked at my outfit and instantly felt like I had slipped back a couple decades.
I had on black leggings with a boxy sweater and a white tank top. With the sneakers added into the mix I looked like one of those women from the fitness videos in the early 90s.
Just give me a sweatband and a high side-pony and I'm off the races.
I felt totally silly.
Immediately I thought about changing. Putting on different shoes or a different shirt.
But I didn't let myself.
I am truly all about feeling as good as I can possibly feel and wearing things that make me feel really good and really confident.
But I'm also a big fan of wearing things that make me feel silly. (Especially if I only have to do it for a little while.)
But the reason I do it is because it's a great way to practice not caring what people think.
If you can go out into the world and let other people see you when you're doing something or wearing something that makes you feel totally silly, and not freak out about it, you can handle anything.
And sure, some people might talk or point (or, sorry to say, take pictures). But you won't care.
Because you will have made yourself more resilient to the Noise.
I define "the Noise" as the outside chatter--from other people, society, things we're taught or told--that programs the way you think and the things you believe about yourself and your life.
The good news is, you have total control over this.
You can let the outside chatter affect the things you do, think and believe, or you can find ways to build up your shield so that the Noise can't get it.
My exercises in doing things or wearing things that make me feel silly are more about how it feels than anything else. On the outside it may not look silly for me to be wearing sneakers with leggings and a boxy sweater.
But in my head it feels silly and so I also imagine everyone else is looking at it and thinking that it looks silly. (Even though they're really not.)
And so by not changing and just wearing the silly-feeling outfit with the sneakers to walk my dog, I was able to practice the act of not caring what people think.
Because if I really, actually, truly cared what anyone thought, I would have changed. Right?
This is super simple, but so powerful when it comes to how it makes you feel on the inside.
At first I did feel silly walking the dog wearing the outfit that made me think I was in a 90s workout video. But then I realized that it also made me laugh. Then that laughter turned to a feeling of joy.
And isn't joy the feeling we're after anyhow?
So there really is something to be said for doing things or wearing things that make you feel silly, or even slightly embarrassed.
There's something so freeing about not caring what anyone thinks. To just do you, be you and not even worry about anyone else's opinion.
If you want to try this exercise yourself, here's what you can do:
- Wear something that makes you feel silly out in public--a hat, a t-shirt with a stupid slogan on it, something totally outside your comfort zone. It will seem scary at first and you'll have the "imaginary audience" going on in your head where you think everyone is looking at you and judging you. But they're not.
The more you do this exercise, the better you'll get at not caring what people think until eventually you can totally 100% be yourself and not give a damn what anyone thinks.
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What can you do to help yourself not care what anyone else thinks?