5 Tips on How to Give Less F*cks About What People ThinkClass is in session.
Sometimes it feels like the most influential currencies in today’s society are the U.S. dollar and other people’s opinions. But when was the last time someone’s thoughts about your life paid your bills or took you on an all-expenses-paid trip? When have judgey voices fed you or completed your daily tasks? My point is, people’s POVs rarely add tangible value to our lives.
Still, external influences and pressures never fail to weasel their way into our brains. And it’s OK if you fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others on social media, conforming to exclusionary Western aesthetics, or feel compelled to buy new UGG Tazz slippers because the beige ones are allegedly so 2022.
Trying to fit in or avoid ruffling feathers is basically self-preservation, and it can feel easier than forging your own path. Afterall, when you don’t challenge the status quo, you don’t have to do the internal work of figuring out what you value. You also don’t have to face whatever judgments may follow. But conforming also means missing out on opportunities to expand your life or live in alignment with your values.
External opinions will always exist (as humans, that’s something we can’t escape), but we don’t have to let them dictate our lives. If you’re ready to step into your IDGAF bag and focus more on what you want, listen up. As one of your friendly neighborhood mental health experts, here are five tips I share to help my clients give less f*cks and be themselves.
1. Reflect on how much you’ve accomplished because of you.
Because we’re all wired for connection, people’s attitudes can impact how we feel. But to take inspo from Black Panther: Remember who TF you are. Don’t dismiss how you’ve carried yourself this far and know what you need more than anyone else.
Think about it: The self-care days that saved your mental health were planned and executed by you. The strides made in your education, social life, and more were all achieved by you. Sure, people may have made their thoughts known, but at the end of the day, you made the moves that brought you here.
As I tell my clients who feel stuck under the weight of judgment: You are both the author and main character of your story. You have the pen. You get to write the book. You get all the royalties. So why GAF about the hot takes of those who are just side characters? They don’t have to deal with whatever consequences come from the choices you make. Take back your pen and move your life in the direction you want it to go.
When you start to operate from this perspective, you might feel more confident and ready to let go of what other people think because you’ve already proven you got this.
2. Remember when outside opinions screwed you over.
Overcoming others’ viewpoints also requires reflecting on when caring too much got you nowhere. Oftentimes, friends, family, or even strangers pose as experts on your life. But they’re certainly not unbiased experts. We’re all influenced by our own judgements, personal limitations, and fears. So when you listen to others instead of your own values, it can impact your life for the worse, or, at the very least, in a way that feels like you’re faking it (like when your friend pushes you to go on a date with someone you aren’t really feeling and—spoiler—it’s a disaster).
When I was pursuing an all-male social club in my early 20s, one of my future club mates (who was definitely, maybe dealing with his own gay panic) encouraged me to dim my queerness in order to be accepted by our future peers. If I had taken his advice and hid my gayness, I would have felt like a fraud. I also would’ve robbed future peers of experiencing how one can balance multiple intersecting identities. And I would have closed myself off from love, acceptance, and community while being fully queer in a typically hypermasculine space.
Lives ruled by fear, conformity, and limitation do nothing to make our world more loving, inclusive, diverse, or exciting. When you take a chance on living your truth, you set the stage for personal and communal liberation.
3. Consult your intuition.
One of the most basic-ish ways to embrace not giving an eff is by listening to your gut, your inner voice, your Spidey senses, if you will. When you rely on the instinct that says, “Apply for that job,” “Ask that person out for coffee,” or “Say no to that situation,” and your life turns out for the better, you reinforce trust in yourself. Over time, that can make you less reliant on or susceptible to outside input.
It’s not like our intuition doesn’t lead us astray sometimes too. Like when your Spidey senses tell you to ignore your friends’ warnings about that wrong-for-you job/emotionally unavailable hottie/bag you can’t afford, and you eventually realize they made some valid points. Negative experiences like those can leave you feeling like you can never trust yourself to make wise decisions. Spoiler: Just because you got it wrong before doesn’t mean you’re doomed forever. You gotta get back to cultivating that assuredness.
To help my clients practice this, I tap into dialectical behavior therapy which allows them to incorporate the facts of their situations and their intuition to find a happy medium. Basically, your Spidey senses + reality = a better chance at living your best life. Notice how “considering outside opinions” is nowhere in this equation? A lot of the time, this practice leads them to experience the highest quality of life.
Mulling over these questions below can help you gain more clarity when it’s decision-making time.
1. What is the specific situation I’m facing? For example: Should I break up with them even though they’re so nice? Do I want to change schools after a stressful semester? Should I invest in Tesla stock or do literally anything else with my money?
2. What is the reality of this situation? For instance: What evidence is pushing me in one direction or the other? Do I have to take action right now, or can I sit on this a bit longer? What more information do I need to make an informed decision?
3. What is my gut telling me? What thoughts and behaviors am I being pulled toward?
4. What are the consequences of following my gut versus considering other options? Setting everyone else’s opinions aside, would going down this path likely lead me to my best life or my worst life?
4. Consider the source of the opinions.
When you’re facing harsh feedback on a specific issue, like whether your outfit eats, it can help to consider the source of the critiques to lessen their grip. Walk with me: There are so many people out there who don’t share similar knowledge, worldviews, morals, or fashion sense as you, and you’d probably never take their perspective to heart in basically any scenario. So why should you care about the side eye or blatant insults from someone who’s unironically sporting Ed Hardy right now?
But when people are so loud about being wrong, it can really mess with your mindset. To break free of these perceptions, you have to consider the differences between yourself and the person offering their two cents. You’ll likely notice that you’re operating on different levels.
There’s also the sad reality that misery loves company and you have some haters (even if indirectly). Many people are unknowingly brainwashed by capitalism, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism—the list goes on. So, sometimes, the people offering their unsolicited perspectives haven’t unpacked how all of that bias informs their POVs.
I’ve worked with countless folx who’ve found their strength in making these sorts of comparisons. Some find peace in realizing the loved ones driving them toward specific careers are not happy with the careers they’ve been forced into. Others feel affirmed when they realize the people pushing them toward marriage are sometimes looking for someone to pull them out of theirs. And even more clients enjoy increased self-love when they compare the freedom and uniqueness of their lives with the conformity and monotony of those who always “play it safe.”
Make a list of where you are in life and where you would like to be. Then, make a list of all the people who have a habit of telling you what you should do. Finally, list where the people giving you advice are on their own journeys. Are they uber successful? Are they ahead of you? Or could they actually benefit from taking a few tips from you? *Sips tea.*
5. Put yourself first.
Tough love time: You'll probably never find true peace if you're not living for yourself, so commit to prioritizing your happiness over what makes other people comfortable—even if that makes you a little uncomfy at first.
It’s OK if you slip up and let external opinions get the better of you sometimes. Just keep pushing and consider how you can practice building more confidence going forward. You’ll want to link up with your trusted friends or fam who can remind you of your goals and help you fact-check any negative feedback you get from judgey people. And not all views are facts or well-informed. So, do you!
Wondermind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your mental health.