This is a simple way of not giving a fuck of what other think of you.

Have you noticed we are always second guessing ourselves:

  • When we go for groceries, we check around to see if someone is watching us buy that toothpaste with strawberry flavor.
  • At a party, we are afraid of someone thinking we are getting bold.
  • We hate talking about what we do for a living because, for some reason, we think it’s not good enough.

And it doesn’t just happen when we are around people. What people think determine which music we like, what career we choose, and even our choice of underwear. If we look closely, this dynamic seems to influence almost every thought we have and decision we make – it’s very ingrained into our psychology.

And social media doesn’t help at all. People posting pictures of their great vacation, how successful they are at their jobs, their new and expensive piece of clothes and the cutest little puppy the could find on the internet. Everyone is having a blast while you are there, watching anime on Netflix.

Modern culture is setting higher and higher standards about how we should look, how successful we have to be in order to feel good about ourselves, and what is the correct way to live.

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Why Do We Care So Much What People Think?

Giving a fuck about what others think of us is just a natural by-product of all of these modern trends. The good news is we actually have the power to revert this. By deeply understanding why we care about what other people think, questioning it and changing some bits of our behavior, it’s possible to let it go.

And this is not about being a rebel and going through life doing and saying whatever goes through our head, going against everyone and everything. What I’m suggesting is about living a raw, authentic, and genuine experience of life and yourself – without any filters but obviously, taking into account other people’s feelings and well-being.

Let’s dig into why we are so programmed to care about what people think of us.

Evolutionary Psychology

Whether we like it or not, we are conditioned by our ancestors. We now live in modern society with refrigerators, tv, social media, cooked food and lots of things we take for granted. But that was not always the case, and if you look from far enough, our lifestyle is actually the exception.

For hundreds of thousands of years, human beings lived in caves and tribes that where constantly fighting against nature to survive. They had to hunt in order to eat, beware of wild, dangerous animals that were trying to kill them or keep an eye on other tribes that wanted their women and food.

Living alone was not an option. Without the help of your tribe and neighbors, you would have been dead in a matter of days. That’s why being part of a social and cultural group was of outmost importance. If they didn’t like you, you were dead.

In 2019, we have most of this figured out. People can live alone if they choose to since society will take care of them – healthcare is free in many developed countries, there’s a police force to take care of you and food and shelter are provided regularly. Basically, you don’t need a tribe since you’ll not die from a tiger eating you.

But still, this only happened a few hundred years ago. Our brains and, therefore, our psychology, didn’t have time to catch up with these abrupt and disruptive changes. We still have, in some way or another, the same psychological structure of a human living a million years ago.

In other words, unconsciously, we still believe social acceptance is crucial for our survival. No wonder why we are continuously double-checking ourselves and trying to make everybody like us.

Evolutionary psychology is a great framework to understand where most of our emotions and behaviors come from, but it doesn’t give us insight into how we can be free of this dynamic altogether. For that, we’ll need to explore our own experience and psychology.

The Existential

You probably noticed that, even though almost all of us care about what others think of us, we don’t share how we want to be seen or thought as. In my case, I’m worried that people will think of me as stupid, or arrogant or mediocre. Perhaps others are preoccupied with someone believing they are cowards, or ugly, or shy. And others hate being perceived as needy, stupid, temperamental, or not successful.

Regardless of this shared psychological dynamic, the particulars of how we want to be perceived and though as change from person to person. Essentially, we don’t care about the same stuff. A skater wants to be perceived completely different from a business man, an Indian girl or a Hippie.

You might be wondering: “what does all of this has to do with me and the possibility of getting rid of this annoying sense of guessing myself?”

Here’s the key insight: “We care about what people think about us because what they think is critical to our social survival.”

We don’t just exist as human beings with a body and a mind. We also identify with different character traits like beautiful, intelligent, environmentalist, just, caring, bold, a good parent, an artist, not weird and much more. Notice that this amalgam of conceptual labels drastically change from person to person, based on their ideals, upbringing, culture, and family.

Ghandi probably didn’t care about being seen as cool, or good looking. And a teenager will not be concerned if you think of him or her as irresponsible. And the simple reason is that they don’t identify themselves with that character trait. It doesn’t define them.

Deep inside of us, we believe that we are worth nothing without these traits – that’s the reason why we defend them so much and work so hard so people perceive us the way we want. If I think of myself as a rebel, I also want people to think that I’m a rebel – I want them to support my vision of myself. What is the point of acting that character out, then?

Can you see that dynamic in your life? You think of yourself in some way in particular, you act that out and crave for others to see you the same way.

So now we are begging the question: “How do we give a fuck about what others think if us?”

And the answer is simple: “Let go of the character trait you identify yourself with.”

The Solution To Not Give a Fuck

Sure this may sound simple, but it’s actually quite difficult to implement. We are so attached to the concept of ourselves that letting that go can feel like death. But by recognizing each and every time we still are, we still exist, and there’s nothing dangerous with not being some way in particular, we begin a process of dismantling that part of ourselves.

If I attach no significance to being successful, I don’t care if people think of me as unsuccessful or mediocre. My sense of worth doesn’t depend on that character trait anymore and I’m free to act and behave as I may like. Obviously, I want to be good – or even the best – at whatever I’m dedicating my life to, but my sense of self and worth is not tied to that.

Each and every time you catch yourself caring about what other people think of you, recognize which self-image you are trying to maintain. Do you want to be perceived as correct, intelligent, wise, funny? Then try to let go of that image of yourself and you’ll notice that the urge of caring about how people perceive you will fade away.

With time and by doing this over and over again, your mind will realize that you are still okay and alive. There’s no need to protect something that’s not you anyways.

Notice that even though one might stop identifying with being intelligent or a hard-worker, that doesn’t mean that one stop learning and working hard. It’s just that we won’t feel the need to defend that image or maintain it in some way or another. It doesn’t define us, we just like to learn and work hard.

In The End, It Doesn’t Matter

I also think that is important to recognize that, in the end, we cannot control what other people think and say. People talk and whisper and criticize – we all do it. And no matter what we do or say, we are going to get judged anyways – it’s just natural. On the other hand, people don’t care about us that much. We tend to believe that they are always checking us under the shoulder, attending what we do or say, but guess what? In reality, that are caring what you are thinking about them.

And on a final, quick note. I would 100% suggest reducing the time spent on social media. If we are constantly checking what other people are doing and posting, our brains are being wired to care about others and what others think of us. It’s just a by-product of these platforms.

By letting go our concept of ourselves, we will find the freedom to be, without any labels or concerns. It will be radically different experience of life – one that will be much more genuine, raw, and alive. Sure, it can take time and practice, but if we become aware enough of our own psychology, it’s just a matter of time until we master it and create a better and way more exciting life.

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