To stop the self-defeating behavior that is people pleasing we need a new mindset, a complete flip of the scripts that run in your head.
Instead of “She going to think…” or “He’s going to say…” We need to start focusing on, “I think…” I say…,” and I believe….”
It is all about forming a healthy relationship with yourself, your ideas, and your opinions. By gaining confidence in you, you can overcome the need to please others and finally stop worrying about what others think.
1 – It’s Ridiculous
Think about how ridiculous it is to care about some stranger’s on the street opinion of you? You’ve never seen them before and you will never see them again.
Often, these are the people’s opinions that are easiest to let go of, versus a critical parent, long-time friend or someone else you are close to.
Here is a little exercise that can break the pattern. Put on an outfit that does not match at all, polka dot sweater, striped pants, and purple sneakers, and throw an orange wig on your head and take a stroll on a busy street.
Put on your biggest fake smile and wave at people who stare, laugh, or point at you.
Do your best to push aside all the feelings and panic that you may feel, and just do it. Keep positive talking to yourself with positive statements, such as
- Who cares that they are laughing
- Who cares that they are staring, what difference does it make to me
- Their opinions are irrelevant
- I am confident
- I like myself
- I am being me
Keep doing it to desensitize yourself, fake it, until you take that walk without really caring at all what others are thinking.
2 – You Can’t Please Everyone – Only Yourself
Please realize that it is a fruitless attempt to please everyone, because you never will. There will always be someone or more than just one someone who does not like your hair, your dress, or your opinion. There will always be judgements. There is no possible way to prevent this and you have no control over what they say or do.
What you can control is whether you let it affect you, and whether you live your life based on your own terms or if you continue to be an actor in your life.
3 – Imagine the Freedom
Imagine the freedom of not giving a flying fig about what people think. It is like that jail cell door opening and being let free. Imagine this for a moment. The cuffs are unlocked, the chains are off, and there you are, free! You can wear whatever you like, do your hair as you like, say what is on your mind, live life on your own terms, be yourself ALL THE TIME.
4 – We’re Not That Special
Ah, the human ego. Often, we place an inappropriate amount of importance on our own selves. In reality, people have little time to worry about you, many are either worried about what you think of them, and their own shortcomings, or they are busy living their lives, after all, social media updates are waiting.
In the mind of a people pleaser the concept of being constantly watched and judged becomes over inflated, when in reality, few people really care.
5 – Get To Know You
In order to see and appreciate yourself through your own eyes it’s important to get to know yourself.
Who are you really? What do you like?
What makes you happy? What’s important to you in life?
What are you goals? What inspires you? What are your opinions?
What would I do if I never had to worry about being judged by others?
What are your values?
Make a list, a long list and keep adding to it as you think about this more and more.
Once you get in touch with who you really are and what really matters to you, you will become much less obsessed with what others think. To put it simply, you will get a life!
Knowing your values will give you something real to stand up for, you will no longer succumb to peer pressure, and you will stop saying yes to everyone and everything just because that’s what you think they want to hear.
6 – Spend Time Alone
One of the best ways to get in touch with who you really are and begin to live life from that standpoint is to spend time alone. Introspection requires quiet, and when you are by yourself, in quiet you can really get in touch with your own real self, and your deepest needs. Meditation is very effective to this end, though walking alone and getting lost in yourself works too.
7 – Make a Worst Case List
Get into a quiet space and start brainstorming. Write down the worst-case scenarios in regards to what others think and what is holding you back from being yourself or doing what you want to do.
What is the worst that can happen? Write it out in detail.
- For example, if you wear the red dress that you believe will not be well received by your sister, what will happen?
- If you should state political views that counter your friend’s or brother’s opinions, what will happen?
- If you go to the free weights section in the gym, where all the male bodybuilders dwell, what will happen?
- What is the absolute worst thing that can happen if you…?
What intimidates you?
What’s holding you back from doing the things you want to do?
What stops you from stating your opinion?
Do you think they will like you less?
Will the world end?
All of these answers will give you a clear picture of what stops you from being real, and doing what you want.
In the end, the truth is the judgmental and ignorant people of the world are jerks to put it mildly, and who really cares what they think or say? Are these the people that you will allow to dictate your life?
In regards to the people close to you, if they stop liking you because of a dress, an opinion or your hair, then are these the types of people you need to have in your life? Probably not.
You can use this exercise in your daily life. Whenever you hesitate to be yourself, ask yourself, “what is the worst than can happen?” Unravel the overblown and unrealistic fears that dwell in your head, bust them wide open so you can face them.
8 – Understand Judgmental People
You know the old saying, “Remember, when you point a finger at someone, there are three more pointing back at you,” is 100% true.
Judgmental people who criticize and point fingers are not really judging you, but themselves. These are unhappy people with miserable lives and their judgements and commentary are a reflection of themselves, and not of you.
9 – You Only Get One Life
You know, you can choose to be happy.
You can choose to live your own life.
You can choose to say bye-bye to negativity.
You can choose you.
All of us are heading towards the same ending to our stories, death. This is a fact of life, which while can be daunting and scary, can also be liberating.
It really puts things in perspective.
Life is short, why waste it caring what other people think, would you not rather be grateful on your deathbed that you lived a life that was true to yourself.
10 – Learn From the Masters
Spend time with and surround yourself with those who have mastered being themselves, are self-assured and don’t care what other people think.
Have you ever watched anyone speak their mind and not waver no matter how others reacted? Did you notice their confidence and conviction? They will show you how it’s done, time and again.
You might be surprised to see the respect these people get for being honest and direct even when others may disagree with their views and how good they feel about living a life that is truly theirs.
11 – Remove All Negative and Toxic Sources from Your Life
Toxic people breed toxicity, they are negative, and their negativity seeps into everything in their life and all who are around them. You know that person who always has something negative to say, some nasty hateful comment to make about someone or something. These people wear you down, and you usually dread being around them.
It’s time to let them go! Immediately! The truth is that you cannot make anyone stop being mean, hateful or negative, but you certainly can control whether or not they are in your life.
12 – Make a Trust List
Consider and make a list of those people who are most important to you in the world, and then make a list of those who you care little about.
- The first list should include those people whose opinion really matters to you (these should be the people that don’t judge or criticize)
- The second list should be your, “I don’t give a flying fig what they think list.” (start this list with strangers)
The people who are on your trust list should of course be those who are loving, kind, are supportive of you, and have your best interests in mind.
It is freeing to break free from caring what others think, but of course, there are certain opinions you will and should care about, especially when it comes to confidences when seeking advice. We all need people to talk to.
Keep the lists handy and refer to them often.
13 – Stop Chasing the Irrelevant
Are you always chasing after those who don’t like you? This is a typical dysfunction in humanity as so many of us want what we can’t have.
Instead of being concerned with those who don’t like you, spend your energy and time making sure you like yourself so you can be the best you and not only for yourself, but also for those who do like you.
14 – Change Your Self-Talk
Have you ever stopped to wonder why you expect people to think bad things about you? Often, when we care what people think it’s because we always expect something negative. This can be an indicator of how you feel about yourself and your own insecurities.
In addition, we may assume the worst and completely block out the good in various situations, while only paying attention to the bad.
Pay attention to your thought process, and start to change your own self-talk away from the negative towards the positive.
For example, instead of “Oh God, they’re going to think I look fat in this dress,” to “Wow, I am going to wow them with this dress, I look great.”
At first, this will be difficult and you won’t really believe it, but in time with repetition, it will become habit and you will believe it!
15 – Ditch Perfectionism
Some have the idea that being perfect means being admired and liked.
First, no one is perfect and never will be.
Second, it’s a really exhausting effort. You are better off spending that time and energy getting in touch with your REAL self and stop being an actor in your own life.
16 – Accept Vulnerability
No matter what you do in life, you will never truly escape vulnerability. This is especially true when you begin to put your real self out there, and start to let go of what others think. This freedom includes the risk of being vulnerable, but the rewards are plentiful.
17 – Be Your Own Friend
Do you realize that if you live your life from the standpoint of worry and anxiety of what others think that you are not really practicing self care or even being a friend to yourself. In fact, in many ways this is not only self-defeating, but also self-abusing.
The pressure and the shame that is associated with this cycle is certainly not anything that serves you.
Consider this, if you saw a friend that you love treating herself or himself this way would you be compelled to intervene?
18 – Be Ready for Confrontation
Maybe the most difficult part in making this change is the actual interactions you might have with people as a result. Consider if you always say yes or agree with others because you worry so much that, they won’t like you or might be upset with you otherwise, once you start to do so there will be conflict that you will have to face.
For example, you are at lunch with a friend and she comments on some controversy and you don’t agree, you think something totally different, so for once you speak up and state your own opinion, and she reacts negatively.
Perhaps, she gets irked that you don’t agree or possibly berates your opinion (by the way, this is a good test of whether this is a person to have or not have in your life) or you go into that old panic – “Oh no she’s not going to like this.”
This will happen, and you must be ready for it. If you can, role play all possible scenarios with a trusted person so you can get comfortable being in that moment. Plan and practice how you will hold your ground.
Don’t worry if you waver or make mistakes, such as succumbing to the pressure of agreeing. Stating and sticking with your opinion is more difficult than just worrying about people liking your dress or your hairdo – the main point is that you pick yourself up and keep going.
Likely, when you do flop back to old habits you will feel disappointed with yourself, and that you let yourself down, so use these feelings to keep moving forward. Notice how bad it feels, it likely make you angry with yourself, use this to do better next time, it can be a powerful motivator.
19 – Get Help
If all of this seems like too much, or you found yourself struggling, then by all means get help. A therapist can help you work through any roadblocks you may face to reveal the real you. This is especially helpful if childhood trauma blocks the path to freeing yourself from the chains of worrying about other people’s judgments. Reach out for help as it is well worth it to end the vicious cycle and suffering so you can live your own life.
20 – Put Yourself Out There
Okay, here is a scary one, but YOU CAN DO IT. Begin to put the above steps and all that you have learned into action. Put your REAL self out there, as this is the ideal way to acclimate yourself to a whole new mindset!
Be your REAL self
Face the world head on
Forgive any slips and keep pushing forward
You only get one life, NOW MAKE IT YOUR OWN!
The more you practice your newfound freedom, the more confidence you will gain, as you begin to focus on and appreciate you, instead of worrying and focusing on what others think.
With time, you will find it easier and easier, as you see the sky will not fall when you are your real self and you being to feel empowered and proud.
You only have one life; don’t you want to be your own?