Caring Too Much About What Others Think: Why Is This So Hard?

Caring Too Much About What Others Think: Why Is This So Hard?

Dr. Rick Petronella

 July 2023 Newsletter

Caring Too Much About What Others Think: Why Is This So Hard?

We all seek acceptance, validation, and the need to be affirmed by others. However, this constant concern about what others think of us can become a significant source of anxiety and hinder our ability to live life authentically.

This happens when you present a version of yourself that you don’t like, and you’re left wondering what stupid or regretful things you may have said. Only when you’re back in the comforts of your true self, and you’re left ruminating about what that prior version of you may have been. Your self-talk may be, “Why did I act that way?” Or, “Why did I say that?” This can cause you to obsess with negative self-talk that can rob you of all confidence.

How do we decrease the chances of encountering these exhausting emotions? Whether you do it through self-reflection or distancing yourself from those that detract from you. From that goal, maintaining calm during these periods can give you the confidence to ground your true sense of who you are. Your true identity. Because it’s only through knowing yourself that you can assert that the opinions of others won’t encroach on what you know to be true.

When interacting with others, we create different versions of ourselves. This constant clenching between identities can lead to confusion about our true selves. The exhaustion experienced after social gatherings is not merely physical but also stems from the mental strain of maintaining multiple ways to try to fit in..

 Alcohol or drugs often present in such gatherings provides temporary relief by merging our identities into one, but true confidence should be built without mood-altering substances.

“When you’re worried about what someone thinks of you, it’s rarely about that person’s opinions of you. It’s about your own opinions of yourself.” – Unknown

One of the primary reasons we worry about what others think about us is the belief that their opinions hold great significance in our lives. However, upon closer examination, we realize that other people’s thoughts and judgments have minimal impact on our well-being and personal growth.

Each individual is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions. However, it is crucial to remember that their perspectives do not define our worth or determine the path we should take. Our lives are ours to live, and seeking approval from others for our choices is unnecessary. Ultimately, we are the ones who need to approve of our decisions.

Worrying excessively about what others think can prevent us from pursuing our dreams and aspirations. Fear of judgment and disapproval may lead us to make choices that conform to societal norms but do not align with our true passions and desires.

When we base our choices on what we believe others expect from us, we relinquish our own influence and accountability. Taking ownership of our decisions empowers us to learn from both successes and failures, leading to personal growth and self-discovery.

To break free from the trap of internalizing other people’s opinions, we must cultivate self-acceptance, authenticity, and self-validation. It is essential to remember that we are the authors of our own lives and that “our worth is not determined by the judgments of others.”

“The unhappiest people in this world are those who care the most about what other people think.”

Joy Bell C., writer

While we may believe that others are constantly scrutinizing our every move, the truth is that people are primarily focused on their own lives. Freeing ourselves from the imagined judgment of others allows us to live with greater freedom and authenticity.

Attempting to please everyone is an exercise in futility. No matter what we do, there will always be someone who disagrees or finds fault. As individuals, we have our own unique tastes, preferences, and perspectives. Accepting that we cannot please everyone can liberate us from the burden of seeking universal approval and allows us to focus on living our lives according to our own values and aspirations.


Worrying excessively about what others think is a common trap that inhibits our personal growth and happiness. However, by recognizing and questioning the weight of expectations and embracing authenticity, we can break free from the shackles of external validation. Ultimately, our own opinions and self-validation should hold greater importance in shaping our lives. Let us prioritize our own growth, follow our passions, and live authentically, unencumbered by the opinions of others. Remember, embracing your authenticity and prioritizing your own happiness and fulfillment is a lifelong journey. It may not always be easy, but by implementing a mindset of self-acceptance and self-compassion, you can gradually free yourself from the burden of worrying about what others think and live a more authentic and fulfilling life.

‘My grace is enough for you because potential (power) is made perfect in weakness.’ 

2 Corinthians 12:9             

How to Overcome the Burden of What Others Think

1. Set Boundaries and Distance Yourself from Negative Influences

Set healthy boundaries by limiting your exposure to these negative influences. This may mean that you reduce contact with toxic people, avoid triggering social media accounts, or create physical distance from non-supportive critical people that do not support your authenticity. Surround yourself with caring and loving people and create a nurturing environment that allows you to flourish as much as possible.

2. Cultivate Self-Confidence and Emotional Resilience

Build your self-confidence by recognizing your strengths, accomplishments, and unique qualities. Celebrate your successes and embrace who you are.  Develop emotional resilience by understanding that not everyone will approve or understand your choices, which is perfectly okay. Remind yourself of your own worth and the intrinsic value of your experiences and perspectives.

3. Focus on Your Own Growth and Fulfillment

Shift your focus inward and prioritize your own personal growth and fulfillment. Set meaningful goals that align with your passions and values. Invest time and energy into activities that bring you joy and contribute to your personal development. By focusing on your own journey, you can cultivate a sense of purpose and fulfillment that transcends the opinions of others.

4. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Recognize and challenge negative thoughts or cognitive distortions that fuel the fear of judgment and criticism. Avoid all good and all bad thinking. Practice reframing negative self-talk and replacing it with more positive and empowering beliefs. Remind yourself that you can shape your own sense of self. No one else has the power to make you feel less than yourself.

5. Seek Professional Support if Needed

If the burden of worrying about what others think becomes overwhelming and interferes with your daily life and well-being, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor. They can provide guidance, tools, and strategies to help you navigate and overcome these challenges.

“Be strong! Be fearless! Don’t be afraid, and don’t be scared by your enemies because the Lord your God is the one who marches with you. He won’t let you down, and he won’t abandon you.”                                                                                                                                 Deuteronomy 31:6    

Are Your Assumptions Undermining You?


It’s natural for us to instantly and automatically generate beliefs or assumptions about other people and our environment. Most likely, it’s a throwback from our insecurities which constantly scans to see if we are safe or in danger. Take a look at the following questions to discover if your assumptions are undermining you:

Set 1

1. I base what I believe is possible on past experiences I’ve had.

2. I already know what I do and do not like and, therefore, stick to what I know.

3. I tailor what I say and do based on the expressions on other people’s faces.

4. I don’t tell certain people what I think or feel because I already know what they will say.

5. I can size people up within minutes of meeting them and then know what to expect.

6. How I relate to people is influenced by the way they look, dress and speak.

7. My opinions of others are influenced by what kind of work they do and where they are from.

Set 2

1. I regularly examine my assumptions about myself to determine whether my beliefs hold me back.

2. I know that my truth is not necessarily other people’s truth.

3. When I have an assumption about someone, I check it out with that person first before acting based on what I think is true.

4. I make time to clear the air with my loved ones and workmates so that we don’t just assume we’re on the same page.

5. I consciously endeavor to open my heart to people I think are different from me—and am delighted when I discover we have more in common than I had imagined.

6. I make an effort to learn about differing beliefs and try to keep an open mind.

7. I cultivate curiosity as a way to counteract my natural human tendency to make assumptions.

If you answered true more often in Set 1 and false more often in Set 2, you may wish to examine how your assumptions undermine your relationship with yourself, others, and life in general. Please don’t hesitate to call if you’d like to explore this issue further.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *