Do You Worry About What People Think?

It has been said that more people are held captive in the prison of their own minds then in all the jail cells in the world… and worry is their Warden.  There are countless things we can worry about, but I have worked with many people who significantly struggle with the worry of what people think about them. 

Many of the decisions you make on a daily basis, e.g., the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, what you say in a conversation, or who you associate with, are governed, in large part, by a goal-directed conscious or unconscious process that attempts to influence what people think about you.  We call this process impression management. 

As humans, we all have needs for belonging, affection, and acceptance.  To not think about how others perceive you to some extent is to deny these needs.  Unfortunately, many people are trapped by a powerful impulse to over engage in impression management.  In other words, they are overly focused on trying to manage what others think about them in an effort to feel like they are acceptable or good enough. 

When a person excessively worries about being accepted and/or approved of by others they likely possess what is called a self-worth contingency.  In this instance, the self-worth contingency involves the belief that your worth and value is contingent upon the approval or acceptance of others, e.g., “I am worthwhile as long as I perceive that people accept or approve of me.”  This type of self-worth contingency reveals a dependency on the real or imagined opinions and behaviors of others.  Unless you work hard to meet this contingency your sense of positive self-worth will always be in jeopardy.  This is one of the reasons a person can feel good about themselves one day and the next day conclude they are worthless. 

Until you are able to fully understand and accept that your value ‘significance and importance’ and worth ‘priceless’ are inherent, and therefore has nothing to do with the opinions or judgments of others, you will always be vulnerable to excessively worrying about what others think about you.  

When you successfully internalize the truth about your value and worth you will no longer be held hostage by the opinions of others.  It is in this transformation you will experience the freedom to be the genuine article – the real person God created you to be. 

In a further effort to help my clients diminish the power they place in the judgments and perceptions of others I encourage them to memorize the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” The truth is, most people are so focused on their own impression management efforts that they really don’t have that much time to think about others. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that negative judgment and criticism, more often than not, comes from those who are most dependent on the approval and acceptance of others.  People who possess a strong and stable self-esteem are much less likely to negatively judge or critique others and to accept them based on their inherent value. 

It’s certainly okay to put your best foot forward and to use your gifts, talents and abilities in an effort to maximize your potential and fulfill your purpose; however, never forget that the impressions and perceptions others have of you – good or bad - will never determine your real worth. 

If you desire to stop struggling with what people think about you and you want to build your self-confidence you still have time to enroll in our brand-new course Confidence in Mind. You can check out all the details here!  

Live, Work and Relate Well! 

Dr. Todd

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