We often worry about what other people think about us. We try to read their minds and guess what they are thinking. The truth is, it is impossible to know what other people are thinking. We are not mind-readers.
When we ‘read minds’ we can come up with all sorts of assumptions (usually negative). Once we attach an emotion such as shame or sadness to the assumption, we start to believe it. This belief impacts on our behaviour, leaving us feeling anxious, paranoid or with very little self-confidence.
People will always have an opinion. However their opinions are not facts. By believing the judgments of others can lead to people pleasing and ultimately loosing our authenticity.
We are all unique, we all have flaws and we have all made mistakes. Yet everything we have been through has made us who we are today.
Examples of mind-reading:
- You have just got your hair done and are walking down the street. You notice some people are looking at you. Your initial thought is “My hair must look terrible, I look awful”. Yet no-one has said this.
- You leave the house this morning and wave to your neighbour. She doesn’t wave back. Your initial thought “Oh no, what have i done?she doesn’t like me anymore”. Again no evidence, perhaps your neighbour did not see you or is having a bad day.
- You go for a coffee by yourself. Your initial thought “Everyone is going to think I have no friends, I am so embarrassed”. Yet again no evidence. Perhaps others are thinking, I wish I was that confident to go for a coffee on my own.
So how can you stop mind-reading?
- Become aware of your negative thoughts.
- Ask what evidence have you got to prove the thought (assumption).
- Can you actually mind-read?
- Think of an alternative explanation for your assumption (like I did above).
- Practice, practice, practice this every-time you find yourself making negative assumptions.
Other’s opinions are NOT facts
You may worry what others think because you are feeling insecure or you might believe your worth depends on the approval and validation of others.
However when we worry what others think our thoughts can become distorted, creating negative feelings. These thoughts and assumptions can damage our self-esteem, effect our relationships with others and impact us in a negative way daily.
By reminding yourself that your worth is not determined by other peoples opinions will help increase your self-esteem. This process does take time and effort. However the outcome is beneficial as it will hopefully lead to a quieter mind and more confidence.
It is impossible to please everyone all of the time
You are not responsible for how other people feel. You can help and support others. However you can only really control how you feel.
When we care too much about what others think of us, it can interfere with our own intuition and authenticity. This is when it is important to do what is right for you and not everyone else.
“Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life“- Mandy Hale.
If you find your thoughts are becoming more negative and paranoid help is available. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)is a technique that can teach you how to re-frame your thinking patterns.