"What Other People Think..."

Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist, is attributed with saying, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” Wait. What?

When you really think about those words, internalize them and make them part of your inner self, you will find that it simply doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of you. When you can approach life that way, the world starts to be a much nicer and friendlier place.

Oh, I know, these words are much easier said than internalized into your core thinking. But, really, isn’t it freeing to think that what others think about you isn’t your business?  You can’t control other people’s thoughts or idea. So why try? Why try to reshape someone into the version of them that is best suited to you? In fact, why try to change yourself to fit into someone else’s expectations of you? 



Image: Fuse / Fuse / ThinkStock

Sure, we’ve all done it and to a certain extent, we need to conform to society’s standards and expectations to fit into the world. What I am talking about is more subtle. You start dating a guy that you really like but, to fit him into your notion of what would make him perfect, you start trying to mold him into someone he’s not. Maybe you want him to dress better (easy), maybe his table manners need to become more polished (doable), but what if you want to change his behaviors or his belief system (good luck with all that!)? You can’t and shouldn’t try. You can suggest specific things you would like to see changed, but you can’t change someone, so don’t even try. If you need this person to change to be someone you can be with, then you need to find someone else who comes prepackaged with the goods you require.

Along that line, you shouldn’t concern yourself with what anyone else thinks about you. Yeah, you may want to fit in and be accepted by your friends, spouse, or roommates, so you may decide to change some of your behaviors to feel more accepted within your peer group. But that is a decision you need to make, rather than having someone else insist that you need to change.

What I am really talking about is that incessant worry we have that manifests itself as anxiety, an upset stomach, insomnia, nail biting, etc. The niggling fear that we don’t measure up. That we are not good enough.  That our friends wouldn’t like us if they really knew us. That our bosses don’t like us or don’t think we do a good enough job. We worry constantly about what others think of us.

Now, let’s take that nagging doubtful voice out of our heads and replace it with oh, I don’t know, anything else as long as it’s positive.  If you can imagine living your life without worrying about what other people think about you, can you envision your life improving? Of course you can! Think of all the energy that you are now wasting worrying about what other people think. (By the way, what does all of that self-doubt and worry accomplish? It doesn’t change the outcome of anything.)  If you can repackage that energy into positive self-affirmations or simply use the energy for healthy pursuits, can you anticipate how your life will calm down and you can begin to truly enjoy life? This is the freedom we all seek!

Here’s your homework to begin enjoying your life:

1)      Stop worrying about what anyone else thinks about you.

2)      Stop trying to change other people in your life.

3)      Start thinking about yourself positively, using positive self-affirmations.

4)      Begin enjoying your life: You are good enough.

5)      Because you are following steps 1 and 2, you now have more time and energy to focus on yourself and living your life on your terms!

6)      Repeat steps 1-5 until they are ingrained in your psyche.