If you want to stop worrying about what others think – good luck. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t occasionally worry about what others thought of them. But wait, don’t click out yet, the title of this post isn’t click bait because what you can do is reduce how often you worry about what others think. Here are eight strategies to help you stop worrying about what others think.

Quit Using the Word Worry

What I’m about to share sounds simple, and it is, but it’s not easy. Replace the word worry with concern; it’s more of a proactive verb. You can put any concern in one of two categories.

  1. Something can be done about it so, do it
  2. Nothing can be done; it’s out of your control, so quit wasting time in worry.

I’ve believed this for years. However, sometimes I slip and catch myself worrying. When I start to worry, I try to stop, rethink my perspective, change my language from worry to concern, and look for what I can and cannot do.

The idea has been around for a while. The serenity prayer, written by theologian-philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr, in 1943 said it better than I ever could.

“God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.”

You Are Not an Imposter

I was at brunch with six friends on a recent Saturday morning. These were six are a highly trained, experienced, and accomplished group of professionals. The topic of impostor syndrome came up, and everyone at the table admitted they experienced this syndrome. “…impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.” — American Psychological Association.

I admitted that one time in this very same group when asked about my secondary education I said I’d dropped out four times. That was a lie. I dropped out once. I was nineteen-years-old, dropped out, got married, had a beautiful daughter, and then took a job with a footwear retailer. At twenty-years-old, I moved from assistant manager of a retail outlet in Indiana to a marketing position at the home office in Worcester, Massachusetts. Older college graduates surrounded me and I used that to justify not returning to school. I never went back. And as much as I’ve learned and accomplished, there are times that I feel like an imposter. Here are a few strategies for fighting the imposter.

Recognize it for what it is

When I begin to feel as if I’m a fake, I stop and think about what I’ve done to earn my way in, whatever “in” is.

Celebrate victories

One of the best ways I know to stave off the imposter is to celebrate victories. They remind you of your successes and why you are deserving.

See failure as an opportunity

Rather than beat myself up when I fail (something I did for far too many years) I analyze my mistakes and look for a learning opportunity. It’s almost always there.

Be Grateful

Showing and sharing gratitude pushes the imposter away. Imposters seldom show gratitude.

Let it out

I hate to admit how long I had held in my being a drop-out, but this group of friends was the first I’d shared the story with. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. Don’t wait as long as I did. If you feel like an imposter tell a few friends.

Understand this Truth

People aren’t watching you nearly as much as you believe they are. They’re not critiquing your appearance, language, or projects as much as you might think. Because here’s the truth you need to learn and remember. You know who people are thinking about? It’s not you. People are thinking primarily about themselves. And many are thinking, “I wonder what everyone thinks of me?” Stop being concerned about what people think because you’re probably not part of the conversation in their head.

Others Don’t Know What’s Best for You

Why would you consider what people think of you, other than close family or friends who know who you are? Most people have no idea who you are and what is right for you. For example, I’m an old hippie. I let my hair grow, and sometimes I wear it in a man-bun. I was performing with my band not long ago when an audience member told me the man bun looked ridiculous on a man of my age. I thanked her for her opinion, told her I like it on me, and explained my wife liked it too. In the past, I might have allowed someone’s shallow view of how I should wear my hair, affect me. Not this time.

Can Anyone Totally Stop Worrying about What Others Think?

Can someone completely stop worrying about what others think? I don’t know, but I’m certain there are a few amazing souls who can. For the rest of us, we can make it better if we take the time to stop and consider that we do deserve to be here, celebrate victories, be grateful, and learn from our mistakes. So, what do think of me after this post? Just kidding. No really what do you think?

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash