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What do others think of me? How to free yourself from the opinion and evaluation of others


Inspiration, food for thought and tips for a good and fulfilling life

“I worry about what other people think of me and I let it hold me back. I'm slowly not even knowing what I want myself. With every decision I want to make, the fear of possible opinions and judgments of others obscures my view. "

This email from a newsletter subscriber is just one of the many messages I have received on this subject. The fear of a possible negative evaluation by others is firmly in the grip of many.

This fear of being judged by others prevents you from being fully yourself and making informed decisions. Instead, it lets you shape your life according to what you think others may think is right and appropriate.

Stop it!

There is only one opinion that really matters to the way you shape your life and the decisions you make: your own.

In this article, I'll show you why 3 essential mindset shifts and give you 4 concrete strategies the hand with which you let go of what others think of you - and instead listen to what YOU want.

Let's start with a question that has probably bothered you at one point or another.

"Why is it so important to me what other people think of me?"

Good question. After all, this circumstance almost always only causes stress, self-doubt and negative feelings. Why is it still so damn hard for us to let go of our fear?

1. It's in our nature

It's probably not your first time hearing this: We humans are social beings. It is an important basic psychological need to be accepted, respected and liked by others. Belong to.

If you look at our evolutionary history, that's a good thing. When we were hunter-gatherers, we probably would not have survived at all without our community of people with whom we worked and lived. Adjusting was an absolute necessity.

We no longer live under these conditions. But the instincts and needs from the Stone Age are still present today.

2. We are born in the cradle

As if that weren't enough, most of us are trained from birth to adapt and behave in accordance with expectations. Large parts of our socialization are based on it.

You may remember situations where as a child you were taught how to dress or behave, what to say or do, so that others would like and accept you. As a woman in particular, you feel this pressure early on.

  • "You always have to be kind and good, otherwise you'll be offended everywhere."
  • “It is important that you adapt and do what is expected of you. Nobody likes troublemakers. "
  • "Always be helpful and take care of others."
  • “Stop being so rebellious. Girls don't do that. "

For some of us this process is more intense than for others. If you feel like you put a disproportionately high value on what other people think of you, you are probably one of them.

It may be that at some point in your life you have been taught that connection with and appreciation from others is something that you must earn. Something you only get when you meet everyone's expectations and please everyone.

The conclusion you have drawn from this is simple, but momentous:

“If you act differently from everyone else, you will run into problems. It's always better to adapt and belong. "

There is a technical term for this internalized belief: Do-it-all-drivers. I have a itemswritten how to get a grip on it.

This inner driver, which you probably developed early on, can become so dominant that at some point it is more important to you what others think of you than what you think of yourself.

  • When you stand in front of the wardrobe in the morning, you think three times about what to wear so that the people you meet will think you are well-groomed and stylish.
  • After the meeting at work, you keep going over and over again in your head what you have said (or not said) - constantly worried whether your colleagues might label you as not smart or competent enough.
  • Basically, only the best of 47 selfies lands on your social media accounts (possibly pimped with a filter that makes you look prettier and more lovable).

In short: you will become "Everybody's Darling".

3 things you need to understand if you want to worry less about what others think of you

1. Nobody cares

That might sound tough at first, but the world of others isn't just about you.

You can walk around the world thinking about whether someone is judging you or thinking badly of you. But don't forget that everyone else feels the same way.

The psychologists Kenneth Savitsky, Nicholas Epley and Thomas Gilovich were able to prove this in a study [1]. Accordingly, we humans permanently overestimate how much and how badly others think about us and our mistakes.

The fact is:

  • The people you meet in your everyday life are so preoccupied with themselves that they have no time to think about you for more than a moment (if at all!).
  • And even if they do, the thought will be gone faster than you can blink.

Experts believe that on average each of us thinks at least 50,000 thoughts a day. Yes, you read that right. Fifty thousand.

Even if someone thinks about you 10 times during or after an encounter, it only accounts for 0.02% of their daily thoughts.
  • And just as your world is primarily about you, someone else's is primarily about him.
  • So as long as you don't do anything that has a direct impact on him and his life, it is unlikely that he will think much of you at all.

So yes, it can be that people on the subway think briefly about your outfit or your make-up or that the colleague at work is surprised at a sentence you say at the meeting.

It is perfectly normal. And it doesn't matter.

Because just as quickly as the thought popped up in your head, it will go away again. It won't affect you or your life in any way.

So why should you waste your energy worrying about it or attaching so much importance to this opinion that you live your entire life around it?

2. What others think of me is not my business

Let's say someone actually thinks something negative about you.

So what?

Another person's opinion of you usually has VERY LITTLE to do with you and A LOT to do with them. With his past, his attitudes, expectations, likes and dislikes.

If I give a workshop in front of 20 people, talk about a topic and just be myself, I cannot influence what the participants think of me.

  • Some will find my outfit stupid, others will love it.
  • A few will think I have no idea and others will be excited about what I have to say.
  • While some will have forgotten me as soon as they leave the classroom, others will remember me for years.
  • Some will understand everything I tell them and take it with them. Others will misinterpret my words.
  • There will be participants who don't like me - because I remind them of their annoying sister-in-law or unpleasant colleague. And others who love me because I'm so similar to their daughter or themselves.

What I mean by that: Each of them will get exactly the same version of me. I'll do my best, but their opinions about me will still differ.

No matter what I do. There will always be people who think I'm good and others who think I'm stupid.

It has nothing to do with me and is only of limited concern to me.

The problem with worrying about what others think of me is that I am clinging to something that I have absolutely no control over.

If I take it to the extreme, one could say: I can try my best or be completely indifferent - it is not up to me how the other person reacts.

You can't stop people from judging you. But you can keep yourself from letting it affect you so much.

So be yourself. Stand up for what you believe in, what is important to you and what you need. There will always be people who disagree anyway - so why bother to pretend?

3. If you want to be free and self-determined, you need to stop worrying about other people's opinions

Perhaps you are not even aware of how much you let others influence you in your decisions. But I am sure you do.

  • Perhaps you are holding back your true views on a topic because you know that the other person disagrees or might disagree.
  • You give up on dreams and goals too quickly because you believe others will judge you for them.
  • Or you do something you don't want to do because you're concerned that others might think you're boring or weird.

But you don't really do any of this because of what others say or do. It's because of your concern about what they MIGHT do or say. Maybe because of what someone said at some point.

By doing this, you let a lot of opportunities slip by, block yourself and make an effort to fit in rather than make your dreams come true or shape your life the way you want.

In the worst case scenario, you will lose access to yours inner voicebecause you turn other people's voices (be they real or just in your head) too loud.

And at some point you no longer know yourself what you actually want.

You take yours own needs are no longer true, do not know your wishes and goals anymore.

You live any life. But not yours anymore.

But if you instead start basing your decisions on what you FEEL and WANT, you will gain the priceless freedom to be YOURSELF.

You can lead your life as you see fit.

Do and say what you feel like and what feels right.

You can finally be honest with yourself.

No recognition in the world is worth exchanging this freedom for.

"It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not."
- André Gide

4 strategies for taking a back seat to what others think of you

Changing your mindset about other people's judgments is one thing. However, it is just as important to consciously implement this new knowledge in everyday life and to train yourself in dealing with yourself and others. With these 4 effective and proven strategies, you will succeed:

1. Question your thinking

We humans tend to think incorrectly, we psychologists speak of cognitive distortions.

For example, we often develop negative thought patterns and assume the worst, or focus on the negative rather than the positive in a situation. We jump to conclusions, make improper generalizations, and so on.

If you are concerned about what others think of you, you are likely to have some thinking errors creeping in as well.

You project your own insecurities and expectations onto others

In many cases, the fear of being judged by others is a reflection of one's own insecurities. Just as we judge other people as to what we think is right and appropriate, so do we with ourselves.

So if you are concerned that someone might judge or judge you, you are actually evaluating yourself - and the other person as well.

  • You assume that what you do will result in negative judgment because YOU believe it is inappropriate.
  • At the same time, you assume that the other person has the same opinion about your action and judges you for it too.
  • So you are projecting your own thoughts onto someone else.

The sociologist Niklas Luhmann used the term "Expectation expectation“Brought into play.

  • That is, you have a certain expectation about what another person expects of you and act accordingly.
  • Of course, this expectation does not necessarily have to correspond to reality.
  • She can be wrong.

For example, you assume that other people will find it unacceptable if you cancel a date because you are too exhausted - even though you have no idea what they think of your cancellation. After all, they might also understand that you work a lot and need your rest from time to time.

You judge others on the basis of half-truths and incomplete information

Imagine you see a couple sitting in a restaurant who are silent. You think "Uff, that's uncomfortable!"

  • What you are not paying attention to is the couple's perception.
  • Maybe they feel the situation very differently than you do.
  • Maybe they enjoy the silence together or want to focus entirely on their delicious food.

We tend to people because of one constructed reality to judge who exists in our head. But this is only an interpretation of their reality. Everyone has their own.

It may be that someone judges you negatively for something that feels totally awesome and right to you.

Conversely, you can worry endlessly about a possible judgment regarding a decision that your counterpart finds absolutely admirable and courageous.

So the next time you catch yourself worrying about what others might think of you, think about whether those worries are really valid. The chances are high that you make a mistake in thinking.

The same applies here: Make yourself aware of how unimportant these thoughts are.

  • You may look at the couple in the restaurant strangely for a moment.
  • But are you going to waste a single thought on her after you leave the restaurant?

2. Think about the worst caze scenario

The next time you are faced with the decision to do or not to do something and you find that your fear of others' judgment is holding you back, ask yourself the following question:

What's the worst that could happen if I do [use what you're up to]?

For example, let's say you would like to go to the gym and don't dare to because you haven't done any sport in the last 5 years and have put on a few pounds.

What can happen if you do it anyway?

  • You will sweat and probably not look very stylish and yes, people will see you in that state.
  • You might get a goofy look or two.
  • In the worst case, some stranger makes a stupid comment or laughs at you.

Is it really that dramatic? No. No it is not.

It may be uncomfortable and yes, it may hurt a little for a brief moment, but nothing more. You don't have to let that get you down. You can stand above it.

When you have imagined this worst-case scenario and determined that it is actually not that bad, you come to the second, much more important question:

What is the worst that could happen if fear of others' judgment prevents me from doing what makes me happy?

Think about it for a moment.

  • You don't go to the gym even though you would like to work out again.
  • This frustrates you so much that you let the idea of ​​the sport stay the same.
  • You feel limp, unfit and uncomfortable in your body, which increases your self-doubt and yours inner critic plays into the cards.
  • In the worst case, you might even develop a disease that you could have prevented with sufficient physical activity.

I'm sure you can see for yourself that this worst-case scenario is far worse.

How sad is it that we let this irrational fear keep us from doing what we want, what moves us forward, makes us happy and fulfills?

We do not live our lives to the full, hold back and miss opportunities because we are too busy worrying about what people who are often completely irrelevant to us might think of us.

Is it really worth it?

What if you are not interested in any people, but in those who are particularly close to you? It's okay that you care about their opinion. You can listen to their views and advice and decide for yourself whether you want to incorporate them into your decision. The only important thing is that in the end it is and remains your decision. If you really want to do (or not do) something, don't let anyone or anything stop you.

"I'd rather look back on life and say‘ I can't believe I did that ’than than I wish I did that’.
- Richard Branson

3. Know your values

You are probably wondering how you manage to stand behind your decisions so confidently and confidently, even if your caregivers disagree. You can find the answer by asking yourself these questions:

  • What is important to you in life?
  • What principles do you want to live by?
  • Which qualities and attitudes do you value most?

Knowing your personal values ​​is like a bright flashlight that gives you orientation while you wander through the pitch-black forest at night.

When you have tough decisions to make, they can guide you and make you feel safe, arming you against falling into feelings of shame or self-doubt when someone questions your decision (or for whatever reason you expect them to think so ).

Let me give you a few examples:

  • Belongs courage In addition to your core values, you don't have to worry so much if someone thinks your outfit is too “daring”. Maybe that's it, so what? You know you are brave and that it is important to you to go through life bravely.
  • Do you know that yours freedom Most importantly, it's much easier to ignore the questioning looks or doubtful comments after you've given up your employment to become self-employed.
  • Do you put on in your life authenticity, you can express your opinions and worldviews at the risk of someone contradicting you. Because it is more important to you to be yourself than to be well received everywhere.
  • Plays I-time an important role for you, you can say nowhen someone wants to claim your time instead of being guided by the fear of being perceived as an egoist.

Take your time, think about it and write down your most important values. Knowing them will take away a large part of your fear or relativize the judgments and evaluations of others.

4. Practice self-esteem and self-acceptance

If you accept yourself with all your good and bad sides, the opinions of others can no longer harm you.

You will know that nothing they do, say, or think of you really has anything to do with you.

Of course, speaking of terms like self-acceptance or self-esteem can be intimidating at first after you've devalued and rejected yourself for years. I would like to recommend two articles to you to make your journey to a loving relationship with yourself easier:

  1. Self-acceptance: 6 easy exercises to accept yourself for who you are
  2. Start Loving Yourself - These 15 Tips Will Help You Do It

You won't wake up the next day after reading the articles and be a self-love professional. It will take time. And you really have to be ready to work on yourself.

But I promise you: it's worth it.

If you would like further support to find a mindful and compassionate way of dealing with yourself in the long term, be sure to check out my self-coaching tool, the soulbox, at. The daily reflection and implementation tasks contained therein aim, among other things, precisely at these topics.

I doubt there is a better feeling in the world than being happy with yourself. Or what do you mean?

Write me in the comments

  • What have you always let yourself be kept from doing so far because you were afraid of what others might think or say about you? Are you going to reconsider your decision now?
  • What are your values ​​in life and what do you do to live up to them?
  • What are your strategies for accepting yourself for who you are?


PS: Sharing is caring: If you liked the article and it helped, share it now with your loved ones and with all people who the knowledge can also help. Thank-you! You can use my newsletter, the Soulspirations here subscribe - so that you never miss an article and benefit from goodies that I only share with my newsletter subscribers.


[1] Savitsky, K., Epley, N., & Gilovich, T. (2001). Do others judge us as harshly as we think? Overestimating the impact of our failures, shortcomings, and mishaps.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1), 44–56.

As a coach and trainer, Ulrike Bossmann has been helping people like you to go through life more relaxed, relaxed and with more joy for many years. On her blog at soulsweet.de you will get specific tips on coping with stress and building your resilience, but also practical suggestions on how you can use the findings of positive psychology to be more content and happier in your life.
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4 Comments on What others think of me? How to free yourself from the opinion and evaluation of others

  1. Hello, thank you for the good article, have always had self-doubt about myself and little self-esteem, I always see negative, that's why I may have missed a lot of opportunities in life and think too much about what others think about me

    • Dear Dana,

      Thank you for your feedback. I understand that the thought that you may have missed opportunities through self-doubt and a negative attitude can frustrate you. Fortunately, these things are not set in stone. By reading the article you have already taken an important step towards freeing yourself from the opinions of others. You can perceive that and acknowledge yourself for it! At the same time, stuck thinking structures do not change overnight, of course. That takes time, patience and active observation and reflection. If you would like to continue working on your topics, please have a look at this article: https://soulsweet.de/sich-selbst-akzeptieren/

      I hope he will help you and send you best regards

  2. Great contribution. Thank you so much! ☺️ I actually think far too often about what other people think of me. And although I am more of a self-confident person, I often find myself in the city thinking about what other people think of me while looking at me.

    I would like to work on it, because after all it is my life and I live it how I want it and I should really be more indifferent to the opinion of others! ☺️👍🏽💪🏽

    • Dear Jessica,

      Thank you for your kind feedback. And yes, unfortunately we all know the problem. It is all the nicer that you catch yourself worrying about other people's opinions and resolving to keep working on it. Because as you say: it's your life. I wish you all the best for the future! 🙌

As a qualified psychologist and coach for positive psychology, I will support you with valuable suggestions to go through life more relaxed, relaxed and with more joy! You want to know more about me
Then this way please.

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