Today’s guest post is from Diggy at Upgrade Reality where he talks about self improvement and personal growth. I had to post this guide, because it gave me a chuckle, especially in the context of long-term travel… if you do care what other people think, you’ll suffer immeasurably. There’s nothing more humbling than travel and while from the outside it may seem like we’re all free-wheeling adventurers, there is an inherent process to getting there. Not caring and being awesome is a learned skill. Now on to the awesomeness…
Are you one of those people who really cares what other people think of them to such a degree that it influences almost every decision you make?
I have met some people who based every decision they made on trying to get other people to like them. They would buy fashionable brand-name clothes because it was trendy and should impress others. They would live in an expensive apartment because it should impress people. They would drive an expensive car because it should impress people. They would smoke because it was cool.
Caring vs Not Caring
Let’s take an example of two guys:
Guy A does everything with the sole intention to try to impress people. He drives an expensive car to look cool, wears expensive clothes to be classy, buys people drinks to look generous, smokes to look cool, tells stories about all his cool (and fake) adventures.
Guy B doesn’t care much what people think about him. He has his own mission and his own likes and dislikes. If he doesn’t like something he won’t do it or he will simply say no. He is one of those guys who may just show up at a black tie event in shorts and sandals because he was in the area and wanted to see his friends. He will go and dance on an empty dancefloor in a busy club because his favorite song is on and he doesn’t want to wait for others to start dancing before he can have fun. He will be the first one to open his mouth when something isn’t right while other people just wait in line and don’t say anything.
While guy A may initially seem cool, he is fake. Nothing about him is real. Once people discover this about him, they will likely lose respect for him very quickly and all his efforts of trying to impress people actually lead to people disliking him. There is nothing likable about people who are deceptive and unauthentic.
The chances for people to like the guy B are actually pretty high, although he totally doesn’t set out to be liked by people. He is happy with who he is, he has boundaries and he sticks to his principles. Sometimes he may be perceived as a bit of a social idiot with no manners (like showing up at a black tie event in shorts and sandals) and there are people that will not like him for that. However, many people will actually like him and respect him for having such a strong identity and for having his own boundaries because it is something that many other people do not have. He is real and will not sell himself out just to impress other people.
This is a cool little graph that shows the effect of caring what people think about you on how people actually think of you. The more you care what people think of you, the less likely you are perceived to be a cool person. The less you care what people think of you and the more you do your own thing and have a strong sense of your own identity, the more people will think you are totally awesome.
Who do you want to be like? The person who bases every decision on trying to impress others or the person who is on their own mission and happy with who they are?
Not Caring vs Being Stupid
There is a big difference between not caring and being stupid. The reason why I am telling you this is because I don’t want you to read this article and think “Hey, Diggy says I shouldn’t care what people think” and then go up to the first police officer you see and start swearing at him and calling him a fat doughnut-eating pig. That is not the idea behind not caring what other people think, that is being plain stupid because it WILL get you arrested.
Not caring about what people think means not basing your decisions on what people will think of you.
You do something because it is what YOU want to do, or it is a part of your goals or mission. If you are in a great mood and feel like doing a cartwheel on the street then just do it. If you think an outfit looks really nice, don’t worry about if others will like it or not. If you have something you want to share with the world, don’t be too scared to stand up and tell people about it just because it is possible that they will laugh at you.
I think that by now you understand what I am trying to say.
How To Not Care
Okay, this is what you have been waiting for the entire article: How to not care what other people think of you.
It is one thing so say “Ahh, I don’t really care what people think”, but it is another story to actually not care what other people think. How do you go about adopting the habit of not being affected by how other people will think of you (especially when you have conditioned yourself for years to base your actions on impressing people)?
First, it is going to take time.
You will not be able to change yourself overnight, and probably not within a week either. It is going to to take you conscious effort for a few weeks or even a few months before you can really and truly not care about what others think of you or your actions.
People don’t like you because of what you buy and what you have, they like you for who you are and what you are. (There are unfortunately always people who will pretend to be your friend for their own personal gain. These are not the kind of people who you want to like you anyways). This is something I am telling you from experience, and even though you may take what I say to heart, you will still have to realize it for yourself. I cannot do that for you.
Secondly, you are going to feel awkward.
The only way to really not care about what people think means you have to start doing what you want in the situations where you normally change your behavior to impress other people. Initially this is going to feel awkward to you. You might feel humiliated, stupid or embarrased. It doesn’t matter, it’s part of the process and it won’t kill you.
I used to be the guy who cared a lot about what other people thought. I used to want gadgets, clothes and cars to impress people. I used to think if I just went along with other people I would fit in and they would like me. It took me a good 3 years to get to my current stage where I care little about what other people think of how I live my life.
Where it started for me is being really shy to approach attractive girls. I would be scared to go over and talk to her because of what she might think of me. And if she didn’t want to talk to me I would be scared to be humiliated in front of other people. Like I said, it took me a long time to change my thought process and not care anymore what people think about me. The only way to change it was lots of experiences, forcing myself to go up to attractive girls and just saying the first thing that came to mind (which was often something ridiculously stupid).
It took me a long time to realize that it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter what people think of you when you do something. It doesn’t matter if you do something cool or something stupid. Most people don’t even know you and will never see you again. So what if you do something stupid and people around you think that you are a moron for a few hours. They probably won’t even pay attention to you for more than a few minutes.
Do you remember someone who made a complete fool out of themselves last week, or last month, or last year? Maybe you can think of one or two people, but other than that you probably can’t, even though there were hundreds of people around you who felt that they did something stupid or who felt embarrassed about what other people would think about them.
The most clear and simple instruction that I can teach you how not to care about what people think of you is this:
Whenever you do something ask yourself “Am I doing this to impress other people and because I hope to be liked by others, or am I doing this for myself?”
If the HONEST answer to the above question is that you are doing something to impress others and you wouldn’t really do it otherwise, then don’t do it. Do things because they are part of your mission, your goal or because they amuse you.
Remember, it doesn’t matter what the people in the restaurant think of you, or what the group of girls at the club think of you, or what the people who view your Youtube videos think of you.
What matters is that you are true to yourself. Be true to yourself or you ain’t true to nobody!
Diggy writes all about self improvement and personal growth. He wants to inspire and motivate as many people as possible to live their lives to the fullest and to be their best selves. Spread the word or subscribe to his blog via RSS or Email