Are you concerned about what other people think about you and how you lead your life? Are your decisions influenced by the way you anticipate other people will see them? Are you worried about criticism? Does ridicule bother you? Why are you concerned about someone else's thoughts or opinions anyway?
We grow up being taught to worry about what other people think. How many times did you hear, “What will the neighbors think?”, “What will your friends think?”, “What will the relatives think?”, or “What will people think?” in response to something you did or wanted to do?
When you adjust your behavior to conform to what others think, you stifle your goals and restrict your happiness. Continually striving to meet someone else’s goals in place of your own, causes you endless frustration.
Too many people structure their entire lives in response to their concern for the opinions of others. Where they live, who they marry, their occupation, and who they associate with, are just some of their decisions determined by what other people think.
Why do we fall into this trap and what can we do about it? It starts with our craving for acceptance. As children we seek approval from our parents. Over time this need spreads to friends, relatives, and even strangers. Additionally, the hunger for acceptance is combined with seeking to avoid criticism, ridicule, and rejection.
These are powerful emotions because they are based on the fear of “what if.” What if people make fun of me? What if I’m not included? What if people don’t invite me? What if people don’t approve of what I’m doing? The list is endless but the result is the same: conforming to what other people might think ultimately makes you unhappy.
The irony is that even when you do what you think other people want, they either don’t care or aren’t satisfied anyway. So, after adjusting your life, nothing has changed except the fact that you are continually unhappy. So in the end, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Today is the day to break free in order to start living on your terms. You begin from where you are right now. There’s no point to lamenting any past decisions. Your objective is to avoid repeating past mistakes while moving forward.
It doesn’t matter if you are criticized for taking control of your life. After all, attempting to avoid criticism didn’t work out too well. There is no obligation to explain why you are changing direction. You don’t have to convince anyone that this is the right course for you.
Where you want to go from here is based on an honest assessment of yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What do you like? What do you dislike? What are your goals? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s essential that you take time to figure them out.
Next, you need to formulate a step by step plan to get where you want to be. Each step must be small enough to be manageable. If one step seems too big, break it down into smaller sub-steps.
Now it’s time for action. The formula for success is taking one step at a time. Don’t worry about what other people think. The direction of your life and your happiness is your responsibility.
Setbacks are a normal part of goal attainment. Yet, this is the point at which you will be inundated with negative advice, criticism, and even ridicule. Ignore all of it. When you stumble, get up, dust yourself off, and resume your journey forward. You will be very pleasantly surprised by how much more joy you experience by not worrying about what other think.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2013 Bryan Golden