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Five ways to stop worrying what people think

We all worry about how we are perceived by others. Am I too pushy, a pushover, too fat, unsuccessful, boring company? The list goes on and on.

Thing is, it’s normal to feel that way, but sometimes we care too much what people think and that can be reflected in our behaviour and our moods.

London-based psychotherapist, Ruairí Stewart aka Happy-Whole Coach (pictured above) has dedicated his career to changing people’s lives. If you’re lacking in self-esteem, he’s your man.

Ruairí says: “I’ve found that the most common struggle for those lacking confidence and suffering with anxiety, is that they are hugely concerned about what other people think or say. This can be a crippling affliction which embeds itself deep, causing negative self-image and a lack of self-belief.”

For anyone who struggles to speak up and be heard, Ruairí offers five actions to help remedy the problem and allow space for growth into a person with high self-esteem and self-worth.

1. Become solid in who you are as a person

It’s important to give yourself the space and time to understand who you are as an individual. You can do this by considering the following questions: what are my beliefs? What are my values? What matters most to me in my life? What impact do I want to have on the world? Reflect on your answers and compare them to the life you’re living now. Do you believe that the life you’re currently leading directly aligns with the life you want to lead? 

2. Recognise your business

It’s very common for anxious people to waste their energy trying to ascertain what others are thinking. The hard truth is, you can never truly know what others think or feel unless they explicitly tell you. The other thing is, it’s not really any of your business! Focus on allowing the real you to be seen and heard. Showing up honestly will attract people who value you for you. You’ll learn to shrug off any external rejection or criticism you may experience because you’ll feel confident in yourself to an extent where the only opinion about yourself that matters, is yours. 

3. Own and honour your feelings

Trust your gut! Especially those people-pleasers out there. Practice speaking the truth, let your feelings be known and you will unlock those deeper, intimate connections in your personal relationships. The right people will listen and respect you and your thoughts. The wrong people will kickback or react negatively. It’s about knowing the difference. 

4. Understand that perfection does not exist

Ultimately, you cannot be all things to all people. Making mistakes is what makes us human, and your failures do not define you. When you fail, because you will, learn from the experience and empathise with yourself – pick yourself up and try again. Secondly, check the standards you hold yourself to. Hear your self-talk and listen to the judgements you are making about yourself. Ensure that these judgements are coming from you, not anybody else, no matter how important you believe their opinion to be.

5. Develop empathy and self-compassion

Do not forget that how you construct your inner-world has a direct impact on how you show up in the outer world. Become your own cheerleader. You can do this by:

  • Reminding yourself of your strengths and successes on a regular basis and taking stock over daily or weekly wins
  • Being aware of how you speak to yourself
  • Speaking to yourself in a loving and positive way

Lastly, remember that you can’t change thought habits or patterns of behaviour overnight. You need to work consistently to show up honestly in the outside world and push through the anxiety you feel. When you learn to let go of the need to control what others think of you, it will change your life and relationships for the better.

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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