How to Stop Worrying about What People Think of You
Your mind won’t stop.
You just talked with a friend or finished an important meeting.
Over the next few hours or days, every detail of the conversation plays itself over and over in your head.
As each detail flashes by, a voice in your head asks, “What did they think of that?” “Why did you say it that way?”
Or, the voice just screams, “Wow, that was stupid. They probably really hate you now.”
You wish you could go back and fix it. Maybe you try. You send an email to clarify what you meant. And another.
You look back at those emails, and the same voice speaks: “Why in the world did you say that?” And then, “Why haven’t they written back?! Oh, no! You probably just made it worse!”
You lose sleep. You relax only when you find out for sure that they aren’t mad at you.
4 Worry Remedies That Don’t Work
Worrying about what others think about you gets overwhelming, so you look for solutions.
- You try to convince yourself that other people are more worried about themselves, so they don’t have time to judge you.
- You try to put things into perspective. You refocus yourself, your make a gratitude journal, you immerse yourself in other things.
- You work on your self-confidence. You list your good qualities, you do affirmations, your visualize about succeeding.
- You meditate and try to let your obsessive thoughts go. You tell yourself that these thoughts are not you, and you can separate yourself from them.
But then, you have another conversation that triggers the worry cascade.
You’re back where you began. Obsessing. Losing sleep.
The Reason You’re Still Worrying
These remedies are all attempts to control your thinking.
Yes. Even meditating to release obsessive thoughts is just a control mechanism. Those thoughts are actually part of you, so at best, “letting go” just puts up a wall to keep those thoughts contained for a while.
None of these strategies addresses the root of the problem.
The Problem Goes Deeper Than Your Thoughts
Worry happens when an intense negative feeling is triggered. Your brain stored it early in life, and it’s called Learned Distress®.
From conception until age 2 1/2, you absorbed how it feels to be human from how the people around you felt about their lives.
Think about your parents or other early caregivers for a moment.
While you were very young, your brain was a sponge that absorbed a conglomeration of how they felt at that time.
You Didn’t Get a Choice
Your thinking brain didn’t even begin to operate until age 2 1/2. So, you couldn’t evaluate the feelings you absorbed.
Just like a sponge, you took them all in.
You had no capacity to say, “Mom’s just having a bad day. That’s an awful feeling. Think I’ll let it bounce off.” From their negative moments, you absorbed the feeling that there is something wrong being human.
And, how they felt became how you feel about being human. It got personal.
You stored those feelings as, “There’s something wrong with me being just the way that I am.”
It Might Seem Like Just a Feeling, But…
Learned Distress isn’t passive. It’s not sitting there, waiting to be triggered.
It’s actually the source of the moments in which you worry.
Learned Distress became part of your sense of self, which is the automatic, generating force in your life. Your sense of self uses how you feel about being yourself to create your moments and situations.
So, the feeling that something is wrong with you is actually generating your negative moments, without your conscious input or control.
Your negative moments aren’t something you choose. . .they’re just the automatic outflow of your Learned Distress.
3 Common Sources of Worry
Learned Distress causes anxiety by making you feel that you must be a certain way in order to survive.
In the case of worrying about what others think of you, here are three common flavors of Learned Distress that get triggered.
1. You need their approval to survive. They have to like you. In fact, how they feel about you is probably more important than how you feel about yourself.
2. You have to be the ideal woman or man to survive. Your ideal might be how you speak or how you look. It might be that you have to take care of everyone in a certain way. It could be that you have to be a great success. Or, you may need to play the certain role, such as being the ideal parent or child, the ideal boss or employee, the ideal friend. If you present yourself in a way that is outside the bounds of your ideal, your Learned Distress gets triggered.
3. You have to be perfect in order to survive. If this describes you, I need go no further. You know how much anxiety comes from feeling like you aren’t perfect enough.
Some Good News
Let’s go back a moment to your early childhood.
The feeling that there’s something wrong with you isn’t the only feeling that got stored in your sense of self.
In fact, your very core is made up of the feeling that you are all good being just the way that you are.
Hard to believe? That’s because your Learned Distress is greedy, and over time, it overwhelms your natural well-being. So, it becomes the predominant generating force in your life, and it’s what you feel in most of your moments.
You’ve felt the Learned Distress taking over, right? Over time, things have gotten worse, or it has gotten harder and harder to make good things happen.
Learned Distress keeps creating more situations in which you feel like you don’t get their approval, or you’re not able to be the ideal ______, or you’re not perfect enough.
You wonder if you can ever be at peace.
Is Peace Within Yourself Possible?
I’ll let my clients answer this question.
“I feel an inner sense of peace that I never have experienced before.” They tell me this so often.
It happens when they have removed some layers of their Learned Distress. When they do, their well-being expands to take up that space.
Well-being becomes the automatic, generating force. The opposite feeling from the way they’ve always felt starts to create moments and situations for them. They feel good being themselves without working so hard.
3 Common Sources of Peace
1. The opposite of needing other people’s approval is knowing that you matter just as you are. A conversation generated out of that feeling is one that reminds you that you are a gift to others, just by being yourself.
2. The opposite of being the ideal is being your real self. You feel at ease in the knowledge that you don’t have to present some facade for other people’s benefit. All you have to do is be yourself. That feeling generates situations in which people invite and celebrate your authenticity.
3. The opposite of having to be perfect is being your unique self. Your uniqueness starts to bubble up as the pressure of perfectionism lifts. Uniqueness banishes your need to compare yourself against any standard. You walk into situations excited to share the gifts that are yours alone to give. People start to seek out your unique viewpoint and input.
When these feelings generate situations, peace within yourself is the result.
What Is Your Inner Self Clinging To?
Did you let yourself feel just now what it would be like to really relax and just be yourself? What happened?
Did you feel great, or did you feel a bit of reluctance? Or disbelief?
Did you even feel a little sick to your stomach?
Learned Distress is tenacious. You absorbed this stuff before you could even evaluate it, so your brain doesn’t even realize these feelings are bad for you.
Like a young child clinging to an abusive parent, your sense of self clings to your Learned Distress for dear life.
Your rational brain puts up a wall of resistance to change around your sense of self, in order to protect this “precious” survival mechanism. So, in order to get to that place of peace I described, you have to get your rational brain out of the way.
Sleep makes that possible, because that is the only time when your rational brain is entirely shut down.
The three integral elements of Quanta Change give you the way to access your brain while you sleep and tell it exactly the Learned Distress you want it to unlearn. As layers peel off permanently, your well-being expands to take its rightful place as the automatic, generating force in your life.
So, What’s It Going to Be?
Worry, worry, worry?
Or, being at peace within yourself?
You didn’t get the choice early in life about the feelings you absorbed. But, you do have a choice now.
Not by controlling your thoughts or feelings. You already know that never works for long.
You have the choice to get rid of the source of your worry. . .for good.
I know it sounds hard to believe, but isn’t it worth exploring to see if it’s possible?
Isn’t it worth discovering that you can offer your unique gifts to the world with joy and excitement, rather than wasting your time worrying about what everyone thinks of you?