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“The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you.”
– Hugh McLeod, Ignore Everybody.
If you had the opportunity to read my recent piece at epostakur on Books for cultivating curiosity, great, or else I suggest you to have a quick rundown of that article. What I’m on to write about in this piece is closely related to curiosity and how our feelings of what others perceive of us influence one’s creativity. The child in us, the one with all the dreams and the one that comes up with all the ideas is an insecure and lonely child. We often need validation for our thoughts and actions from people immediately around us. It so happens that most of the times we are better off with such kind of validity from these people.
Why do we care what others think of us?
To reflect upon our tendency to care about what others think of us, this could be drawn back to our ancestors. Humans, even during the very early days have always existed in tribes. These are the tribe that expects and require you to live up to their standards to be considered a part of the tribe. It is our itch to be a part of something, to be a part of the tribe that is causing us to consider what others think of us as a major factor.
Social networks in the current internet age are one great example of modern-day anxiety and need for social approval of others. We value our self-esteem through the perspective of others rather than our own. The fear of denial from the social community and a few raised eyebrows make us anxious and it is partly because we feed them up. It is not to say that you must not receive constructive feedback from people around you, it is just to say that we must not jump to conclusions based on mere assumptions.
Why you must stop caring what others think of you
Worrying about what others think of you and the need for social approval has never done any good for anyone. Taking another quote off Hugh McLeod’s amazing works,
We humans are hardwired to think of others as what they are thinking of us. This is natural unless our actions & thoughts are deeply affected by other people perception. To stand out & be a complete free person, you need to take control of your thoughts & action, which can’t be done unless you stop worrying about other’s people.
This is a piece from my heart which will help you stop worrying about others. Especially those who are social anxious or are creative, they need to be free from external influence. So go ahead, & let me know how deeply can you connect with this life changing article.
You cannot and must not aim to please everyone
You might have heard or read this phrase from somewhere at some point of your life, albeit in a mild fashion. We all are unique and the way we perceive and judge things is the very thing that makes us different and unique from others. This very notion makes it ridiculous for us to try to please anyone and everyone around us. No matter how much you do or say, you cannot please a person beyond the scope of your own thoughts and actions. This is also one of the most talked about concept in the art of creative writing too and that is what genres and niches are crafted for.
Just as in creative writing or any creative pursuit for that matter, you scale down your art or any such form to a target audience who are likely to be evocated by your work. Art or action that is universally appealing is pretty rare and is not something one must always aim for. The very fact that you cannot please everyone is the basis for the idea that you must not aim to do the same. We think about what others think of us to gain their approval and our this very repeated act will do no good for our mental peace.
People around you do not always want you to change
Pieces of this article are heavily inspired by Hugh McLeod’s book Ignore Everybody, and this is that part where we talk about the altering of power balance in relationships. Hugh mentions in his book that people around us, no matter how sweet or close they are to us, they do not want us to change.
This very notion of the shift in the power balance in relationships is something that is often misunderstood by people for jealousy. Not wanting you to see improve is not the same as not wanting you to change. Although people around you and those who care about you usually want you to see succeed, they do not want you to change.
Succeeding is often related to changed behaviors and state of a person as compared to at a stage when they were very closely related.
This is the part where people around you, even those who care about you do not want you to change. When you throw in strangers into this situation, it gets even worse. Let alone change, they do not want you to succeed if they consider you as competition for themselves, and this is the hard fact you need to get on with life. And so it makes sense not to consider what others think of you and just to strut your stuff!
You hold sovereignty over yourself
If you must be reassured, you own yourself, your thoughts, your actions and all that you believe in. Once you let the control over these fundamental elements of life be taken over by the perceptions of someone else, you are losing the game.
Your thoughts, your actions, your ideas are unique to you no matter what has been said or done before.
These very aspects that define you as a unique person are entirely entitled to you and the thoughts or approval of others over these factors are not particularly essential.
Simply following your inner voice and channeling it effectively is a great way not to worry what others think of you. If your thoughts about what others might perceive of you are interfering with what your intuition or gut feeling has to say, you are treading down the wrong path.
Opinions of others do not really matter
To put it in a simple fashion, people’s thoughts and opinions are shapeless. What one might perceive of something as of now is not an adequate representation of the same thought over some time later. This very nature of people that their thoughts and opinions are shapeless leaves us with even a better situation of not to worry about such fickle opinions. Moreover, at the end of the day, it is the facts that matter the most and not the opinions of people judging the situation.
For individuals, what should matter the most for oneself is the opinion that they hold of the situation in their heads. As mentioned before, you hold sovereignty over your thoughts and also your opinions. While you must firmly hold to your opinions, they need not be guided by the opinions of those around you. Although opinions in their very own sense are not adequate representatives of the reality, they even matter the least when you bring in the situation of worrying about opinions of others.
People really don’t care about you as much as you think
Have you ever had the feeling walking down the street walking a new dress, for the first time and when you thought everyone was giving you off weird looks. This immediately made you worry if the dress is making you look like a lunatic and you just wait for the moment to get back home and ditch off the dress that you’ve loved so much never to see again. Probably the very people giving you off weird looks were thinking about something they just looked upon on their smartphones. There, a dress was gone alas!
It is moments as such when we must remember ourselves that people in this age, at least, are much more occupied with their smartphones and computing devices than they are to you. Attention spans are declining steadily and at an alarming rate, and this is one reason to consider to stop caring what others think of you.
The simple truth is that they are not actually thinking about you, and this makes it reasonable for you to worry less about what they are thinking of you.
They’ve not or will not walk in your shoes
You face the consequences, not them. So what people might be thinking of you is definitely not a good reflection of what might’ve been or going through. The situations one has faced in their lives is what shapes them for most of the times. Leaving the judging of yourselves into the hands of people who have not walked or will not walk in your shoes is not a good idea in principle. You are mostly shaped by the events in your life and wondering what others think of you is not an adequate representation of what you are.
I’ve always heard people themselves seek out advice on anything from people who are actually not well-suited for making an effective judgment. No matter how closely related the person is to you, seeking out advice or relying on their evaluations on topics alien to them does not make sense. Understand that people you are considering to be silently judging are not the ones who have walked down the road as you, and it makes them even matter the least.
It saps you of your energy
One final thing that could be certainly said about caring what others think about you is it has a negative impact on your overall well-being. Social Anxiety Disorder is an official scientifically-proven disorder termed for people with higher social anxiousness and a sense of approval from the social tribe. In not only sapping you of your creativity and energy, caring what others think about you has serious and lasting negative impact on your mental health.
It is not worth endangering your personal well-being for the sake of some random stranger’s perception of you, isn’t it? To lead a peaceful life where we are perfectly synced with our thoughts and actions, it is essential that we do not let our energies focussed on the redundant.
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What do you consider to be other reasons for not caring what others think of you? Shout out your thoughts and comments below on when you were placed in a similar situation and how you overcame it.