“I went through a phase early in Vancouver when whatever was said – whether positive or negative – affected me, and I was putting too much stock in other people’s opinions. Unfortunately, I had to go through some tough times to realize it wasn’t important. I’m at peace with it now.” – Roberto Luongo (The Hockey News Vol. 68 No. 07)
Not caring about what other people think is way easier said than done. It’s unrealistic to think that we could ever completely separate ourselves from the opinions of others (and there are some people whose opinions should matter to you!), but there is a difference between caring about the opinions of others and worrying about what other people think. You might care about and respect other people’s opinions, having awareness and consideration of their viewpoint, but worrying about the acceptance of other people is relying on them to determine your worth. As Brigham Young says, “Why should we worry about what others think of us, do we have more confidence in their opinions than we do our own?”
People are entitled to think what they want, but when you realize that you don’t need (nor will you ever have) the acceptance of everyone, that is when you can truly be free to follow your own values, beliefs, and desires. Chances are that whatever they’re thinking about you isn’t taking up too much space in their mind anyway – we’re usually more focused on ourselves.
Life is too short to be living your life for other people.
Game Plan: When you do find yourself worrying about what other people think, consider where they fit on the hierarchy. What matters most is the opinion of your immediate family: a spouse, children, and parents. Next is probably your boss and friends, whose opinions likely matter a lot. The opinions of your colleagues and neighbours should matter somewhat less, and acquaintances after that. The opinion of strangers you casually encounter (including trolls on the internet) shouldn’t matter at all. Before you let yourself start worrying about what other people think of you, decide first how much their opinion is worth to you.