There were so many times in my life when other people's opinions or perspectives could have deterred me from my plans or dreams. Most of the time, the negativity toward what I desired did not come out of maliciousness but was just a projection of the other person's fears or limited thinking.
While I learned to shut those voices out a long time ago, I think it's important to revisit this topic because so many people struggle with "what will other people think."
First, you should expect to care about what people think because it's wired into your biological imperative for survival. The expectation that you should not care at all is not reasonable. As human beings, we're a tribal species, and our survival was and continues to be predicated on each other.
You see in ancient times, there wasn't any way for you to survive as a loner. Trying to fight off a saber-toothed tiger by yourself meant certain death. You had to belong and be accepted so that you could fight off predators as a group and so you could hunt, gather, and share your resources. So, possible rejection from your clan was avoided at all costs.
In modern times, we have the ability to live independently but our hardwired biological need for integration in a group has not changed. In other words, while we may not need a tribe for our next steak meal, it can feel just as important emotionally to gain approval and acceptance from our modern tribe of family, friends, and community.
This is why so many people get stuck on caring about other people's opinions.
It's not that there's something wrong with you. Or that you're weak or lazy.
Yes, you probably procrastinate but that's your fear kicking in trying to take care of you because that next big thing feels so threatening. After all, ridicule and judgment, especially in today's internet age of the trolls, can feel as menacing as a sharp-toothed prehistoric animal.
So, here are a few ways you can combat that hardwiring and ignore all those other voices (even when it sounds like your own voice in your head):
Be Reasonable With Yourself - You will never be able to please everyone or have everyone agree with you. It's impossible. So, if you keep trying to get a consensus on your next big move or get everyone to believe in your dream, you're setting yourself up for failure. There are over 7 billion people on the planet all with their own individual perspectives. You have to accept that not everyone will agree with you, period.
Stop Overthinking It - How many times have you obsessed over something you were afraid to try, and then once you got through it, you realized you spent an unnecessary and inordinate amount of time worrying about failure only to succeed at what you set out to do. Learn to lean into more of your own experiences of success instead of focusing on other people's opinions.
You Have Your Own Unique Path - There is only one of you and since that's the case no one else can tell you what is best for your life. This is your life and no matter what others think you're the one that has to live in your daily existence. Sure, you can gain knowledge and guidance from those that are supportive of you and your dreams, but ultimately, you have to know what is right for you.
Set Boundaries - You can kindly but firmly tell someone that you are not seeking their opinion and certainly don't welcome their judgments. You have the right to stand up for your dreams and desires and when you do, it can feel so good, even liberating.
Turn To Your Higher Power - God, Creator, Universe, Goddess, Source, Divine Love, however, you call in your faith and your spiritual belief, do it. A growing body of research shows that those with faith in something greater, experience significant well-being, less anxiety, and stronger coping skills, all of which can strengthen the foundation you need to make that next power move regardless of what others think.
Ultimately, beloved, you have to know your truth. Take the time to reflect on your truest desires and then take action because you have the right to live your best life, no matter what others have to say about it.