Geez, I hope they like the gift I brought.
I wonder if they’ll find my selfie narcissistic.
Maybe I should call and see if her husband thought I was cool.
There are countless opportunities upon which to be judged. With the advent of the internet, and social media, we have introduced entirely new mediums for others to criticize us. But why do we care? And how do we stop caring?
In prehistoric times, humans needed to be part of a group to survive. Communities protected each other. Fed each other. Survived together. Being ‘liked’ mattered because you needed your tribe to keep you in the mix.
Today, not so much. We have locks on our doors. We don’t need our neighbors to watch out for us. We go to the grocery store for food. We don’t need to venture to the middle of the woods adorned in beaver pelts to find our next meal.
Everybody doesn’t need to like us. Even if we aspired to be loved by all, there is no universal moral code that you can follow to be universally revered. There are over seven billion people on earth… seven billion moral codes… seven billion lenses upon which to view others. None are right, none are wrong. It’s all just different perspectives.
Nonetheless, many of us get caught in the trap of allowing others’ feedback to affect us. Do any of these statements sound familiar:
… I obsessively checking your social feed after posting selfie.
… I seek validation for even the smallest decisions.
… I don’t feel like I belong in my situation or job (i.e. imposter syndrome).
… I wear the latest in fashion, and often change my outfit several times before leaving the house.
… Any criticism of my character easily shakes me.
Although none of these may hit home, you’re still one of seven billion people who – to varying extents – care what others think. The trick is to develop greater resilience and not allow other’s opinions of you to drag you down.
Here’s a ‘How To’ guide on building resilience, and learning to better deal with what other people think:
… Surround yourself with the right people. Lessen the chance of insensitive and unconstructive feedback by eliminating consistently negative people from your life.
… Don’t take anything personal. Understand that people are often directing their own issues towards you.
… Change your mood. Keep a happy video one your phone and watch it when you feel yourself hurt by other’s comments.
… Perspective in your pocket. Carry a touchstone. It could be as simple as a small stone. Rub it when you feel hurt. When you rub it, remind yourself to breathe, and remember that your character is uniquely yours.
… Understand the difference between guilt and shame. You may screw up and people may let you know about it. But don’t mistake the guilt from an event, as a reason for your character to be shamed. You are not your worst event.
… Make purpose your compass. Focus on the meaning and purpose behind your actions. Why you do things is a personal decision. Nobody can question your personal decisions.
… Be value oriented. Live your values and practice self-compassion when you make the odd misstep.
… People have short attention spans. Someone’s opinion of you is fleeting. We have tens of thousands of thoughts every day. People will quickly forget whatever it is that caught their attention.
… Reframe your response. Instead of feeling slighted by judgment, chalk it up as valuable knowledge about yourself, and the other person. Then move on.
… Don’t overshare for ‘likes’. Ask yourself if you’re posting something on social media for the expectation of ‘likes’ or because you genuinely want to share insights.
… Would the Dalai Lama care? If you don’t think he would, then why do you?
… Learn how to listen. Listen to others feedback to gain perspective, not to look for validation.
… The source matters. Don’t give any weight to judgments from people who don’t know you. We need to qualify the source of criticism, and give it its due respect.
… Ignore it. Until you can learn to compartmentalize criticism and make it work for you, pay no mind.
… Find an outlet. The brain can’t focus on two things at once. When you find your mind racing down a rabbit hole of doubt, turn to an activity that will be a sure distraction. Video games, a good movie, or a technical bike ride are all good options.
… Associate failure and criticism with growth. Everybody experiences failure. Everybody makes mistakes. Some critique may hold valuable insights. Redirect the negative feedback to fuel growth. Aim to learn and grow.
… Realize you’re not alone. No one is insulated from other people’s attacks. You are not alone in this regard. We will all be the focus of someone’s barbs at one time or another.
… This too shall pass. At the heart of life is impermanence. The world is not static. It’s fluid. Whatever is happening at this moment will soon pass. Allowing yourself to breathe and be present will help ground you, and enable you to move forward.
… Phone a friend. Sometimes we need a little encouragement to get us back on track. Sharing what’s affecting you with a close friend will help provide trusted perspective.
Remember that we’re all connected. We are making the best decisions we know how. Holding ourselves accountable is one thing, regretting past decisions is futile. Trying to understand the infinite complexities of our consciousness will bear no fruit.
Remember that life is riddled with adversity. Trust in the journey. Trust in the dance. We’re going to make mistakes along the way. Trust that and by default you will begin to care less. This doesn’t mean you’ll stop listening, it just means that whatever energy is directed at you will result in growth, not shame.