Stop caring about what others are thinking!
Oh the relief!! When you realise you are finally over caring what others think of you.
When you discover you no longer need to fit in to be OK.
It feels so good. Life is so much better and your body is so much lighter without the weight of expectation and others opinions pressing down on your soul. Everything is easier since I got over that.
I don’t think I am the only one who has struggled with “what will they think of me?”. We have a crisis of comparison amongst women in our culture.
This blog post is for all my fellow sufferers who find themselves constantly running through a stream of thoughts about the thoughts of others. Who try as they might can’t switch off their “what will they think of me?” antennae.
I struggled for years with a preoccupation with what others thought of me. I knew that it didn’t matter. I knew that being happy with myself was the only important thing. I knew all the right answers (and would tell others them) but it didn’t help.
I also knew that my perceptions lied. I knew that I was very likely wrong in what I guessed about the thoughts of others. I would mistake conversation, behaviour even body language for signs that I was being judged. I would assume that I was excluded rather than included. I would read negativity into people’s expressions. Mostly my perceptions of the thoughts of others were more a reflection of my own poor self-image. The other person was merely trying to remember if they had locked their car!?
Maybe there was the odd occasion I was right in my assessment of the thoughts of others. (I like to think I am perceptive!?) Maybe I did pick up some signs of negativity. Perhaps all kind of critical thoughts and judgements were flying around in the ether. But so what!? I don’t need to care. If someone is that critical I don’t want them in my life anyway.
All of this good advice and sound reasoning couldn’t touch my habitual worrying: “Yeah, but what if they DO think I’m weird?”
Anything was fair game for the “what will they think of me?” thoughts to prey on.
What will they think of my clothes/house/spots/kids behaviour/money situation/choices ........(fill in the blank)? They will probably think I am boring/strange/slow/poor/crazy/fat ......(add your own negative here). And repeat.
I wasted SO much time on this.
The change came when all my obsessing became a problem for me. You see while I was managing with the constant stream of thoughts and everything was OK I had no incentive to change. It is only when I collapsed in an exhausted heap and my milk dried up (being forced to give up breastfeeding is never a good deal for a woman) that I began to see it as a REAL problem.
My body was tired of the comparison and the running around. I got an infection and couldn’t get over it and eventually collapsed and was in bed for 2 weeks.
While convalescing I reflected.
You see when racing thoughts control your mind you never have any headspace for reflection. Getting away from your situation is so important for your thinking.
Part of my reflection was to say sorry to myself. I actually repented of all the negativity towards myself (repent means to change your mind). I knew I held the key to my own freedom from anxiety. And I also changed my mind about the way I saw myself. I was worthy of love. I would have no need to question that fact from now on.
I adopted two new mantras which I said numerous times a day for a while:
“I am loved”
“I don’t know what you think. I don’t mind what you think”
It took awhile for my habits to change. But they adjusted to my new internal landscape. I was over it. My mind adjusted to not need to notice what others think.
If you want to follow my recipe for freedom in your mind then here are the 3 steps:
Get away from your normal routine. Ideally an overnight solo retreat. Reflect and allow truth to surface inside you.
Start a conversation with yourself. Find things to say sorry for and heal the internal conflict. Repent of your thoughts or behaviour.
Repeat a significant mantra. Follow up the change with intentional, repetitive self-talk.
I’d love your comments on getting over compulsive thinking. How has this worked for you? What is easier now your mind is thinking better?