Shakespeare got it wrong.
The entire world is not a stage. You just think it is.
And it’s this exact thought – the thought that you’re always in front of a judgemental audience – that gives you anxiety.
And that anxiety causes you to wonder:
Why on earth did I say that? This person must think I’m weird. And that person thinks I’m boring.
We’ve all been there.
So here I am, sitting down to write an article on how to care less. And by care less, I don’t mean being a jerk. Definitely not.
I mean how to stop worrying about others and focus on yourself. How to stop the soul-crushing anxiety that comes with people pleasing. How to live life on your terms.
In this article, you’ll learn practical tips on how to stop caring what people think.
But more importantly?
You’ll be reminded of some simple truths about life that you needed to hear again.
Are you ready?
Let’s dive in.
How to Stop Caring What People Think
First, understand that research confirms that no one is really thinking about you.
Why? Because they’re mostly thinking about themselves.
But don’t just take it from me:
Dale Cargenie said, “When we’re not engaged in thinking about a problem, we spend about 95% of our time thinking about ourselves.”
The research agrees.
One psychology study found that 78% of our conversations centered around us.
Harvard University conducted a series of experiments to assess how much people talked about themselves.
Most people spend the majority of their time talking and thinking about…you guessed it, themselves.
Dr. Meyer and Dr. Lieberman of the University of California wrote extensively about this in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
They titled it, “Why People Are Always Thinking about Themselves”
See where I’m going with this?
Think about your own personal thoughts for a second.
How much of that centers around you?
How you feel, how your day went, what you have to do tomorrow?
Probably 95%. And that doesn’t make us selfish, it just makes us human.
Secondly, realize the negative comments people make is about them, not you.
There’s one thing you need to know when it comes to learning how to care less:
People’s words reflect their character.
And you know what?
There’s research to back that up too.
“Your perceptions of others reveal so much about your own personality,” says Dustin Wood, assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest.
Dustin Wood and his team of researchers found that how positively we see others is a crucial indicator of how satisfied we are with our own life, and how much we’re liked by others.
“The simple tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders,” says Wood.
You can’t make this stuff up.
But let’s sidestep for a moment.
I’ve thought about writing this article for a while. But life happens. I got busy. And it’s been on the back burner for a few months.
Then I got a message from my friend Jamie. It was a YouTube video with a text that read “You’ve GOT to watch this.”
We send funny videos back and forth, so I didn’t think much of it. Besides, it was 10:30 pm on a Thursday night and I was getting ready for bed.
“I’ll just watch it tomorrow,” I thought, as I went off to brush my teeth.
A few minutes later, my phone buzzed another message:
Have you watched it yet? What’d you think?
No, I hadn’t. But when I opened Jamie’s message, I noticed that the title of the video was How to Stop Giving a #%[email protected] (I’ve censored the F-word here, but you know what I mean)
Jamie normally isn’t this persistent about funny cat videos or movie clips, so I knew this one had to be pretty good. So I clicked on it.
And I’m glad I did.
So I’m sharing the video with you below. Then I’ll give you some actionable tips on how to care less afterward.
Here’s Matt D’Avella’s video, How to Stop Giving a $%&!
Yep, it was that video that inspired me to get busy writing this article. To give you my take on caring less.
So now that you’ve seen it, I want to give you a few practical tips on how to stop caring what people think.
Tip 1: Remove the Negativity from Your Life
And I mean immediately.
If your coworkers have a knack for starting drama, avoid them. If your circle of friends brings you down, then get rid of them. If social media and the things people say get the best of you, then for the love of everything stop reading that stuff.
You can’t stop people from being negative but you can do your part in removing yourself from the situation.
Instead of focusing on hateful people, I ignore them. I show up for work, do my job to the best of my ability, and go home. I do what makes me happy. I surround myself with people that make me happy.
You should do the same.
Tip 2: Trust a few opinions, forget the rest
This is called focusing on where it counts. Stop asking people what they think of you and your ideas – especially critical, unhappy, and unsuccessful people.
Think of your mind as a glass with limited capacity. You choose what you put in the glass, but the glass restricts how much you can put in it.
The same goes for the opinions of others. Only the people who love and support you can have a voice at your table. This means you have to forget the opinions of negative friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else.
This is a key element of learning how to care less. Don’t underestimate it.
And there’s a famous quote that says, “The only way to win with a toxic person is to not play.”
Read that again.
Tip 3: Quit Trying to Please Everyone
You know, it feels crazy.
I can remember what it felt like to care too much what other people thought about me.
It was so distracting that it became difficult to stay present in the moment. I remember having a whole inner dialogue going on in my head. I thought that every facial expression and every comment from other people had to mean something.
That there were universal truths about me that other people surely thought.
I was wrong.
You weren’t put on this earth to focus on what makes other people happy.
People pleasing doesn’t make us easygoing, likable, and pretty cool. It makes us lost, confused, and boring.
When we go through life as people-pleasers, we aren’t living it on our own terms. Sure, we think we’re being nice and drama-free, so that’s how we justify it.
But in all actuality?
That just results in you being surrounded by selfish, rude, and unforgiving people who, instead of accepting you for who you are, treat you like a doormat.
So let me drop a truth bomb:
This isn’t just about learning how to care less. It’s about respecting yourself.
Be a nice person. But don’t be a doormat.
Want a real-life example of this?
Let’s talk about Steve Job’s epic response to people-pleasing.
The year was 1997. Steve Jobs had just returned to the company he founded, Apple, after being fired in 1985.
Yup, Steve was fired by the Board of Directors from the company he started. Can you imagine?
Anyway, Steve was on stage answering audience questions when a software developer took a shot at him.
Watch the first part of this video:
“Mr. Jobs, you’re a bright and influential man,” the naysayer begins.
“Here it comes,” responds Jobs, as both he and the audience chuckle.
Then, the famous insult:
“It’s sad and clear that on several counts you’ve discussed, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I would like, for example, for you to express in clear terms how, say, Java and any of its incarnations addresses the ideas embodied in OpenDoc. And when you’re finished with that, perhaps you can tell us what you personally have been doing for the last seven years.”
Steve takes a pause.
“You know,” he says. “You can please some of the people, some of the time.”
What happened next?
Steve Jobs later went on to make Apple profitable again. He revolutionized the sale of music through iTunes. He catapulted the success of the smartphone. He changed the technology world as we know it.
Steve didn’t let his naysayers get the best of him – and believe me, he had plenty.
Neither should you.
Finally, realize that life is too short.
Think about it.
You can ask any 70 year old you know and they’ll tell you that 25 years passed by in the blink of an eye.
You simply do. not. have. time.
And here’s the deal:
Some people suck. Some people will always be judgemental. Some people will always have something to say.
But promise me that you won’t focus on the things you cannot control.
Get busy living.
2 Extra Resources on How to Care Less
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F
What I love most about this book is that my initial thought of, “Oh this should be a good book. I’ll probably get a provoking thought or two from it,” turned into, “Wow, this book is a gamechanger.”
As someone who has given far too many f***s in life, this book was the wake-up call I didn’t know I needed. Despite the title being a bit crass, I found this book to be sophisticated and an easy read. I looked forward to every moment I spent reading it.
There were times that I laughed, cried, and most importantly thought, “Hmm, I didn’t think of it that way.”
If you’ve ever struggled with the emotional rollercoaster of trying to learn how to not care what others think, then I strongly encourage you to read this book.
I appreciate Dr. Aziz Gazipura’s approach to this book. He goes into detail about the reasons why we appease others and seek their approval.
One of my favorite lines from the book is, “Being nice does not come out of goodness or high morals. It comes out of a fear of displeasing others and receiving their disapproval.”
This book helps you set boundaries, say “no” and speak up. I’ve read and loved Dr. Gazipura’s other two books but this is by far his best one.