Why we care so much about what others think

Have you applied to universities that you didn’t love just because your parents wanted you to? To one degree or another, we all seek others’ approval. But why is that so important to us? Caring about what others think is hard-wired into us, it is inevitable -and it is not necessarily bad as long as it doesn’t interfere with our intuition and our personal goals.

Approval from others matters so much to us because it gives us a sense of higher self esteem. Think about every time you have gotten complemented about your amazing sense of style by a friend, or that your teachers have congratulated you on a brilliant paper. It feels good doesn’t it?

There is nothing wrong with feeling good about receiving approval – except for when you begin to depend on it. In fact, seeking people’s recognition can get quite addictive -the more our friends and families give it to us, the more we need it to fill our sense of self-worth. As a result, we can be too hard on ourselves so as to not “disappoint” others’ expectations.

care about what others think

Social media doesn’t make matters any better. Although social media can be a great way to stay in touch with friends and share information, it usually doesn’t stop there. Who can help but check who has seen your stories, liked your posts or left a comment that has made you smile – and has probably made you feel good about yourself ? The hard truth is that these apps make us spend way too much time worrying about what others think, to the extent of basing our sense of self worth on the appreciation that we receive online.

Now, just think about everything you could do with the mental energy that you waste into worrying about what others think! There is no magic to making a mental shift to not caring about what others think, it’s just a matter of turning your “it’s ok” switch on. It’s ok if not everybody likes you. It’s ok if you don’t make an appearance at a party. It’s ok if you don’t do the things people expect you to – as long as you’re true to yourself and do the things that make you happy.

Turning on your “it’s ok” switch might be easier said then done, but here are some pretty helpful things that can help you with that:

Try a social media detox

Although this might appear hard because we are so used to logging into social media every day, I can personally tell you that it is way easier than it seems. Deleting my social media apps from my phone made me realize how much time I could save from being connected (and to what extent going on social media has become a reflex whenever we have a bit of free time). After only a few days of “detox”, I started to realize how surprisingly ok (and even relieved) I felt about not knowing where everyone was and what they were doing.

I felt more present in my surroundings and more appreciative of the current moments. Give it a try, even if it is just for a week at the time 🙂

Have you ever gone to a party that you really didn’t want togo to just because your friends were going?

Do a bit of introspection

  • Accept that it’s ok if someone doesn’t give you the attention that you want. It’s better to be yourself and to do whatever makes you happy than to waste your energy trying to be someone who doesn’t reflect your awesome whole self.
  • Ask yourself what you really want every time you make an important decision. If you can’t figure out what that is (it’s easy to confuse what your parents and friends want for you from what you really want), write it down and read it out loud. I can guarantee that if you write down : “I really want to …. ” it will not sound right if it is not what you truly aim for.