Why do we care what people think about us?

Why does it matter that someone seems to speak badly of us, in spite of our best efforts to please? Or appear to ignore us when we’ve gone the distance for them?

That hurts.

Have you met someone who seems to easily blow right past these kinds of things? They cavalierly throw their head back, shake their fist at the sky in blind anger and say they don’t care at all what people think of them. You can watch the back of their head whilst they walk away.

I don’t believe ‘em.

I think they do care; I’m pretty sure they care a lot. But I think their mojo is that they’ve learned to manage their own perceptions of other people’s actions.

How do they do that?

Here’s the deal: It’s not what people think about you that matters. It’s what you think people think about you.

It’s more about you and less about them.

Don’t you just hate that?

So how do we get there? How do we know what’s for real so we can move past it?

Acknowledge the pain.

If you feel hurt, then you are hurt. That’s really okay. Our feelings are an indicator of what needs our attention. Just because someone says they “didn’t mean it that way” doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

Your feelings are your experience. No one else can tell you you’re not feeling something or shouldn’t feel something (my personal favorite).

You are the sole authority on what and how you feel.

BUT you can’t get stuck here. If you step out of the mud for a minute, then you’ll realize that you can actually decide what you believe about the source of that pain.

Challenge your perceptions.

You don’t have to take everything that is said or done to you at face value. Just because words were formed and projected into the air towards you doesn’t mean they 1) were well thought out 2) contain any factual truth and 3) really have anything to do with you.

Put your muddy finger on the pause button for a second and ask yourself, “What else could be going on here? What could I be missing? Where’s the remote?”

This can take some of the emotional edge off.

  • Maybe you just heard it the wrong way (clarification never hurts).
  • Maybe they’re a jerk and treat everyone that way (then in this particular case it’s not about you at all, yay!).
  • Maybe, like Wonder Woman, you just don’t have all the information about who you really are, but they see it and they don’t like it and want to throw lightning at you!

Get creative but come up with something that’s less about you being a horrible person and more about you being the victor in your own life story.

It may sound like denial, but in this case it might be the best way to move on from people who may have nothing invested in you anyway.

Recognize that we all have different ways of perceiving the world.

I think social media has more than proven this point. With all of the ways we can now share our unique perspectives, along with our food choices, you really have no way to know where people are truly coming from.

Unless you ask them, of course. And even then, you still won’t have the complete picture because you’re not in their head.

You are having your own undeniable experience, and other people are having theirs, too.

Someone who hurts you is responding based on their own perceptions of the world. Their own upbringing, their own personal models of how to relate to people, and their own feelings of inadequacy.

Just like you.

It’s not that people always have it in for you. For most people, it’s just that they’re scared, too.

Don’t underestimate the power of fear. It makes people do some pretty stupid things.

I say this all the time, but don’t be afraid to run interference on your emotions.

Instead of letting your mind run away with all the reasons someone doesn’t like you, challenge those reasons and design a different perspective for yourself.

Check out Lori’s new book!

Click to order 31 Days of Mental Health Moments 31 Days of Mental Health Moments is a devotional-style guide for good mental health. Each day will give you a month of tips and perspectives that you can easily carry into each day for good mental health. Learn actions you can take right now to get your mind focused on healthy behaviors and thoughts.