We live in a culture of conformists. Most are afraid to speak up, afraid to be their true self. Those who dare to be different, those who venture off the beaten path are often chastised and criticized.
Our society further encourages this. The school system was built to create conformists, mere factory workers who take orders and do as they are told. The supposed “right way” of doing life is the same for everybody: get a degree, work for 40 years, and retire at 65 having lived a bland and austere life with nothing much to show for it.
And in this conformist society, we learn to care what everyone thinks about us. The fear of being criticized is one of our greatest fears, and we let it run our lives on many days. In decision-making, we constantly frame decisions in terms of “What would she think about this?” and “Would he still like me if I chose this?” instead of “Is this the best thing for me, right now?" It’s complete backwards thinking.
To combat this ridiculous, fear-controlled lifestyle we must learn who we are. We must build a strong foundation so that criticism can't touch us anymore.
Here are five ways to stop caring what people think about you
1. Know who you are
We must know who we are as men and women. Because until we have a strong sense of our own identity, we will always be bothered about what people might be thinking about us, true or not.
The foundation of our lives must be built on who we are; not what we do, who we know, or what we know. Not on how much money we have, how many cars we drive, or how many things we own. Because those things can all be taken away from us, and if we don't know who we are, we will crumble.
Until we know who we are, we will always be afraid to be true to ourselves.
But if we are confident in our own sense of self and identity, we can take criticism and chastisement without it affecting our foundation. So find who you are. A journey awaits you, and it is inviting you to begin today.
2. Just be you
There's a lot of fake out there, and it's easy to become convinced that in order to be accepted by society, we must also be fake. The lie is that we must become like someone else in order to fit in and receive love. But this couldn't be further from the truth. We are all waiting on those who can be fully themselves and not be ashamed about it.
We are attracted to people who have found themselves, and who aren't afraid to show that off. We are starving for authenticity, for real, for truth. And it's hard when we don't have many examples to look up to. But the examples are there, and we will find them if we search hard enough.
Because being totally, completely, and absolutely you is perhaps the most liberating and astoundingly happy place you can be in. So try. Try being just you. Not your friends, not that celebrity, not your parents, but you. Just do you.
3. Don't listen to them
Stop caring about what they think, because it's almost never important. And I'm talking about if they say good or bad things. Because if we don't know who we are, the good things they say about us will go straight to our head, and equally as dangerous, the bad things they say will destroy us.
So listen to your true, authentic voice. That voice knows that it doesn’t know how your life will turn out, but it often has a strong hunch about the right next step to take. There is a huge lie in culture today that says that "You must have your life figured out in order to belong." This is ridiculous, and totally false. This lie is especially prevalent among young people, but I'm here to tell you the truth: You don’t have to have it all figured out.
Just keep on taking those next steps, and don't worry about whether or not people will judge you for it.
4. Stop people pleasing
Trying to people please will always leave you exhausted and burned out. You will never be able to do anything perfectly enough to avoid the truth that there will be certain people who will be unhappy with you, so stop trying to make everybody happy. It doesn't work.
When people criticize you, that's a good sign. You will have people who don’t like what you are doing - when this happens, you can know that you are doing something right. Welcome criticism, because it will move you ahead faster than you could on your own.
“We probably wouldn't worry about what people think of us if we could know how seldom they do.” - Olin Miller
Criticism isn't a sign of weakness in you, but in the one who is doing the criticizing. Don't let hate paralyze you. Brush it off, and keep going.
5. Fight mediocrity
No more standing in. No more average. No more status quo. We were never born to fit in, but to stand out in the crowd. To be different. To be unique. To be us.
Because here's something about the crowd. It doesn't like when you stand out. The crowd isn't going anywhere special or compelling. The crowd likes to stay average. Easy and mediocre are the crowd’s best friends.
Following the crowd rarely results in greatness, because the crowd loves easy and cheap, and easy and cheap rarely result in great things. If you want to be great, don’t follow the crowd. Learn the art of non-conformity. Learn to be different. To stand out. To be unique. Society loves average, and punishes different. But don’t be average. Be exceptional.
And when you can be exceptional, you will be criticized even more. But now, you know how to fight back. Fight back, meaning, ignore the noise and keep moving forward.
You got this.
Practical Next Steps
Take a risk and step out of your comfort zone. You need to do something that scares you, something that someone could (and would) criticize or judge you for. It doesn't need to be earth-shaking, but you do need to start taking risks, however small they will be. And how you feel after being criticized, is a gauge for how strong your identity is.
Did you enjoy this article?
Join me on this journey to making every day matter. Text the word AWESOME to 444999, and I'll send you an email every Monday with practical and motivating content to help you focus on what matters most.
Life is short. #MakeItMatter
Use the hashtag above on Facebook and Instagram when you post something that matters. Make sure to tag me @japhethmast so I can read everything.