How To Really Not Care About Other People’s Opinions

Can’t stop thinking about other people’s opinions? Me too! I used to obsess over what people said to me about me. No matter if it was positive or negative.

And is it really possible to stop worrying? Yes! And I’ve got a mind recipe that makes it possible to not only deal with other people’s feedback and criticism but also not let it affect you. You’ll shrug it off and actually might even feel good about other people’s opinions.

The first thing to realise is that humans are wired to inherently care about other people’s opinions. It’s what helps build friendships and community. What this mind recipe allows you do is not take someone’s opinion and let it spiral in your head.

The Mind Recipe is much like baking a cake, you need to mix the ingredients all together in the bowl to have it bake properly in the oven or in this case your mind.

Ingredient 1: Establish a mind boundary.

This is the foundational ingredient, like flour in a cake recipe. A mind boundary is understanding that a person’s opinion originates in his/her/their own mind. That means when someone says to you “you’re not that good looking” – that opinion comes from them, not from how you look, what you’re wearing or how you behave.

The same is true when someone says to you “you’re beautiful”. It has nothing to do with you.

Ingredient 2: No one’s opinion is the absolute truth.

My opinion isn’t the truth. That last article you read on mental health is not the absolute truth on mental health. Why? We love patterns, the brain loves patterns and once we see a small pattern we tend to take it on as the truth.

We seek out things we see in the world that fit what we believe to be true. And the same is true when even someone is considered an authority gives us information, especially when it comes to anything to do with our body and mind.

Ingredient 3: Find an element of truth in the other person’s opinion.

This is the secret ingredient to really not caring about what people think of you. It’s based on Miller’s law (from psychologist George Miller1 ) which states:

you assume what the other person is saying is true or what it could be true of

As in ingredient #2, no one’s opinion is the whole truth just like our opinions of ourselves isn’t the absolute truth. There are multiple viewpoints to anything or anyone. Essentially you’re seeing things from someone else’s perspective.

Now, you don’t have to 100% agree with someone’s perspective of you, it’s finding the element truth in it. So, if someone says to you: “I didn’t like your presentation”. You could probably find one aspect of your presentation that could use improvement. Knowing that no one’s opinion is the truth can allow you see that someone’s perspective is neither right or wrong.

This secret ingredient is by far what will set you free from having people’s opinions affect you. Because we tend to resist what people say about us when it isn’t in line with how we see things which is why we tend to hold on to them longer than we need.

I talk more about this amazing mind recipe in podcast episode 21: How to really not care about other people’s opinions.

1Elgin, Suzette Haden. You Can’t Say That To Me. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995.

Mispronunciation of Your Name

“What’s in a name?” Juliet once asked herself in Shakespeare’s play, Romeo & Juliet.

A question that has been recently answered differently by a number of celebrities. Many of them have reclaimed their names that were changed either by accident or part of assimilation in anglicised culture.

English actor Thandiwe Newton used to go by the name of Thandie Newton due to a misspelling when she began her career.

I found myself asking the question again, What’s in a name?. Immigrants to anglicised culture often have their names changed, my own father had a slight adjust to his name and my name has been mispronounced continuously.

And it used to irritate me to no end. Correcting the mispronunciation to have it mispronounced again and then the task of spelling it, I definitely judged others for this.

That judgement came with a rude awakening. When learning another language, I struggled pronouncing other people’s names and names of towns. Basically, I sucked at it.

And thinking back on my father who spoke English well, he struggled with certain sounds in the language. He never meant anyone disrespect whenever he mispronounced English names. His only fault was that he couldn’t make a certain sound that wasn’t part of his native language.

Is there disrespect in mispronouncing someone else’s name that is unfamiliar to them?

Of course, if it is used to insult someone, then Yes. However, most of us aren’t doing that. I speak other languages with an accent and mispronounce words all the time. Giving space for that is something that is required to get there.

So then, when we have space to use our original names, space must be giving also to allow those that have difficulty pronouncing it as well.

At any point in life, we can easily be on the other end.

Terribly mispronouncing names isn’t particular to the anglicised world, we are all capable of sounding ignorant.

Is there so much invested in our name, our identity, that mispronouncing it would shatter it? Or is it merely are own discomfort with dealing with the person mispronouncing it?

A discomfort that, no doubt, drove the anglicised people to change unfamiliar names and others to mitigate that discomfort through assimilation.

Allowing discomfort is the only way, at least that I know of, of allowing the uncomfortable to become comfortable.

I ask one more time, What’s in name? Shakespeare was way ahead of his time, a name is just that, anything we make it out to be becomes a burden we chose to carry every time we’re asked: What’s your name?

I talk more about my journey on learning a language and letting others mispronounce my name in podcast episode 16: Mispronunciation of Your Name. Listen below.

Intimacy for beginners

Understanding emotional intimacy is hard and worse, having it in relationships is harder. I’ve struggled with knowing what it meant and practicing it in my friendships and relationships. When I realised I had intimacy issues, I began a journey to get there.

First, what is intimacy? I define it as it’s the exposure of your true self or the familiarity you have with your true self (self-intimacy) and then intimacy with another is that both of you are familiar with each other’s true self.

We’re essentially not wearing a mask covering up who we really are (what we think and feel).

Next, how do you know if you have intimacy issues? I list out 4 signs I saw in myself and I’ll warn you, they hurt (initially).

  1. You’re told often that you’re a sensitive person or that you’re easily offended. This was with regard to what people said to me or about me.
  2. You have a lot of boundaries. Because I was sensitive to what people said to me, I often found myself having to uphold a lot of boundaries, not accepting of how people viewed me. This was exhausting to manage all of them.
  3. Your vulnerability lies on the two polar sides of the spectrum. The extremes of vulnerability involve sharing too much all at once or being quite reserved. You can be a private person but still share your opinion. Often, I toggled back and forth between the two extremes.
  4. You berate yourself whenever you receive feedback or criticism. You take the criticism to close to heart and it spirals in your head to the point you can’t separate out the fact that that’s only someone’s opinion and not necessarily the truth.

Looking in hindsight, it was easier to see how theses signs showed how I didn’t have the best intimacy with myself. Why? Because I wasn’t comfortable with who I was.

Being comfortable with yourself means you are ok with whatever stage in life you’re at. You’re lost in your career, you’re single, etc. You’re comfortable with all of it, the messy stuff and the great stuff.

That’s not an easy place to come from – enjoyment with who we are. When we can come from this place, people’s opinions of us become just that, an opinion. Your opinion of yourself doesn’t waver with each person’s statement about you.

You can accept what other people say without agreeing with them. That’s true intimacy with yourself.

And when a friend or a loved does say something about you that you don’t agree with you can see it as an opportunity to develop intimacy with them. You can inquire about why they have an opinion without needing it to justify who you are and your worth. You can come from a place of curiosity about the other person and develop a deeper understanding about each other.

Being comfortable with someone else’s true self can truly happen when we’re comfortable with our true self. That’s the kind of intimacy we all want in our relationships – the ability to be comfortable with each other.

I discuss a personal journey with a friend at the beginning stages of developing intimacy with myself. Listen to podcast episode 11: Intimacy for beginners.