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.

Other People’s Opinions

Worried about what people think of you? I used to obsess. And I wanted to stop obsessing. It never felt good to do so and it never helped me in anyway.

Here’s what I wish I had known earlier about other people’s opinions so that you can obsess less and actually feel positive about other people’s opinions. What? Yes, you can feel good about whatever feedback or criticism comes your way.

The biggest falsehood that we are taught, usually by our family and friends, is that we shouldn’t care about other people’s opinions. And while their advice is well intended, it 100% doesn’t work.

Why? Because we’re human. Humans have evolved to care about what other people think because it’s what allows for friendship and community. It’s human and trying not care goes against our natural instinct. So, you’re left with a strategy that will fail you all the time.

Accepting the fact that we care about what others think of us cuts the misery (and time obsessing about it) in half. It’s true. Think of the last feedback you received, good or bad, and admit you cared about what they said. And feel the tension automatically release from your body.

It’s okay to care about other people’s opinions. In fact, it’s what makes you human.

Feeling good about what other’s say about you requires establishing a mind boundary. And if you’ve never heard of one, you’re not alone. Again, we’re not taught how our minds work in relations to interacting with others. And then how to set boundaries around it.

A mind boundary is like lot a body boundary meaning your body is physically separate from another. The entity of our skin keeps us separate and the mind is even more protected by our skull, fluid and our skin. The physical separation denotes a real boundary.

But we can’t see a mind boundary like a body boundary. And when we don’t create one in our head, we can take what people say about us personally to the point that it dictates how we think and feel about ourselves.

When we establish a mind boundary we still understand that what someone says influences us (because we care) but it doesn’t erode our sense of self-worth. So, how do we establish this when we haven’t been taught this?

The mind boundary involves seeing each other’s minds as two separate operating machines.

When someone tells you that they don’t agree with you, their opinion comes from the inner workings of their own mind and NOT from what you said. Their opinions are influenced by a lot of factors from their life that lead them to have that opinion, not from what you said.

Other people’s opinions have nothing to do with you.

When someone tells you that you look amazing today, their opinion also comes from the inner workings of their own mind. Not from how you look or act.

And how you think and what opinions you have come from the inner workings of your mind. They are not caused by how someone else looks, acts or speaks. You own your opinion just like the other person.

Knowing the other person owns their opinion helps take the sting out of criticism. And as you hear other people’s opinions practicing the mind boundary, you’ll feel better about them because you’ll begin to understand the person and where they’re coming from (literally their own mind).

Take a listen to episode 19: Other People’s Opinions where I talk about the mind boundary.

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.