One of the easiest ways for OCD to achieve extreme control over your mind is to get you to fertilize a thought that other people don’t like you or are saying bad things about you.
You notice two people talking across the room. Their facial expressions seem disgusted and even though you can’t hear them, you’re sure they’re talking about you.
Now they’re pointing at you. You go to another room and everybody suddenly stops talking when you walk into the room. When you turn your back to walk out of the room you feel someone is making a vulgar gesture.
It seems like people have something against you. You’ve got to find out if it’s true. So you turn on your charm and approach a few people. You try to make them laugh or even smile. They do! Whew! They must like me, they smiled. You say hello to someone passing by. They don’t say hello back. Oh no! They must not like me.
People have never said to your face, “I don’t like you” or “You’re a bad person.” Yet, it seems like Captain Obvious to you that that’s how people feel. This worry grows into paranoia like crabgrass. It spreads fast and it ferociously takes over your mind. The feeling of being unwanted and lonely is heavy and hopelessly thickening.
What Do People Think of You? How to Stop Worrying About It
Maybe some of it is actually true. Certain people really don’t like you. They’ve even told you right to your face that you’ve done something unlikeable. Chances are what they don’t like about you is exactly what they see in themselves. But, they only see it in you. They’re forever unfriendly and cold towards you. You try to talk and they ignore you like you don’t even exist.
Worse, they walk away from you the second you walk towards them. You know it’s not your deodorant. It’s not a laughing matter. They really don’t like you. You know this is a fact because they’ve told you how they feel about you. And you can’t stop thinking about it. The path to happiness seems hopeless—forever out of reach if everybody doesn’t like you.
Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to Stop Worrying About What People Think of You
Stop Thinking You Can’t Hack It
If you have OCD then chances are it’s hard for you to accept that people might dislike you or disapprove of you. You’re holding on to a limiting belief that confines you—you think you’re too weak to handle not being liked. You think you can’t bear it if someone disapproves of you.
You think of yourself as too fragile to handle the consequences of doing something unlikeable. If someone tells you they don’t like you because of something you did or said, you beat yourself up to a pulp. You’re worried you’ll never get over this.
The body’s stress response shuts off your brain’s full capacity. It’s hard to be reflective and learn anything new when you’re in stress response. When you’re brain is shut down, you can’t learn so you default to old patterns of thinking and behaving. These patterns can be rooted as far back as your toddler years.
Now you’e stuck in a loop. Wasting energy. Avoiding. Checking. Trying to read minds. Refusing to deal with uncertainty. Outbursts of crying or yelling. Thinking this will never get better.
If this sounds like you then you might be wondering:
- How can I can stop thinking it’s a catastrophe if somebody doesn’t like what I’ve done?
- If somebody thinks badly of me how do I shrug at that?
- Why can’t I just stop worrying whether or not people like me?
- How can I stop being so paranoid?
- Why can’t I just make mistakes and move on?
If This Is You, Then This Is the Right Guide for You!
Don’t Feed the Weed
You are your worst enemy. Not the people who talk about you or seem to disapprove of you. Your first step is to not blame other people if you are feeling miserably obsessed about this. It’s not because of what other people are doing or saying. It’s what you’re doing that’s making you miserable.
You’re Not a Mind Reader
One of the ways you feed your misery is by trying to read people’s minds. Nobody has told you they don’t like you or you’ve done anything wrong. You’re feeling insecure and trying to find out what they think by analyzing their facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice.
Haven’t you ever smiled at someone even when you weren’t happy? So just because someone smiles at you, that doesn’t mean they like you. That’s a false assumption. If you could actually read minds, you’d be rich and famous. All crime would come to an end. Because you’d always be one step ahead of the criminal.
Until someone actually tells you they don’t like you or disapprove of something you did, it’s none of your business!
All or Nothing Thinking
And if you agree that you’ve done something unlikeable take responsibility and learn from it. Would you tell a loved one that because they’ve done something unlikeable that makes them unlikeable? Of course not! You’d tell them a certain behavior is unpleasing but there’s still so much else to like.
It’s impossible to be liked by everybody. No matter how wonderful you are, there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like you. And it has nothing to do with you at all! What they think of you is based on something going on in their mind. It might look like it has something to do with you but it really doesn’t.
It’s also possible you’re the kindest most likable person alive and you’re just being paranoid. That’s what the doubting disease can do for you. Make you paranoid. Nobody is persecuting you except you.
But, you are bound and determined to find out just what people think. You seek reassurance. You try to read their minds. You keep checking, “is everything alright?” You lean to the left. You lean to the right. Trying to see like X-Ray vision their every thought.
Seeking reassurance is only feeding the weed. Accept the fact that you can never know what anyone thinks about you. Even if they tell you they like you, that might not actually be the truth. Haven’t you ever told a little white lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings?
There’s no truth to be found in reassurance. The Mommy who tells her 5 year old son he’s not going to fall on the stage is lying. She has no idea if he’s going to fall. It’d be better to say “possibly and if you do, you’ll just have to get up.” Keep seeking reassurance and you are making the weed grow out of control.
How do you resist seeking reassurance?
It’s counterintuitive but say something like, “It’s very possible that these people disapprove of me, that I’ve done something unlikeable. I may never know but until they tell me to my face there’s nothing I’m going to do about it. I know that I’m imperfect and have a lot of growing to do. Whatever consequences occur because of my mistakes and poor decisions I will gladly pay. I’m not afraid of being accountable.”
Your Support System
Your family, BFF, and therapist will tell you if there’s something to improve upon. They’ll also tell you about your successes. They’ll celebrate your victories and offer you encouraging affirmations. But, they will equally hold you accountable. These are the people who know you!
These are the people you listen to and use their feedback to find your higher person. Your higher person will calmly observe hardship and adversity and lean into it. In your higher person you will ask, “What does this make possible? How can I grow from this?”
These relationships will help you to work on finding your higher person just as you will help them work on finding theirs. But, even people who don’t know you can help you work on it too.
These people who barely know you are speaking out of turn. They don’t even know your backstory. But, you can still seriously consider their grievances. “This person called me selfish. No one else has ever called me that. But, I can open-mindedly hear their concern and will gladly monitor for signs of selfishness and adjust my behavior accordingly.”
- Manage difficult feelings without catastrophizing. No matter what people are thinking or even saying, it’s not the end of the world. Show OCD to the door! Put it in the corner! Just because somebody doesn’t like you doesn’t mean you’re not AWESOME!
- Don’t complain, problem-solve. Be the solution not the problem. The solution lies within you, not with other people.
- Communicate in an assertive, respectful manner.
- Don’t let toxic people get close enough to take your power.
- Take ownership. Don’t blame anyone else for your energy or your mood. You don’t choose what happens but you do choose how you react to it.
- Ask, “what does this make possible?” Take a learning approach to life. Find the silver lining. There is one to be found and it starts with acceptance.
- Be curious and identify skills that need sharpening or limiting beliefs that need to be disposed of. A limiting belief is anything that you say to yourself or about yourself that is demeaning, shameful, or undignified, or deflates every ounce of your confidence. If you wouldn’t say it to your BFF, don’t say it to yourself.
- Be changeable and flexible. Life isn’t going to go smooth. Be ready to ride the wave.
- Don’t get into an obsessional tug of war of finding the answer or knowing for certain. Let go or be dragged. It’s all unanswerable anyway!
- Tolerate discomfort. It’s unpleasant but not dangerous.
- Resist all or nothing thinking. If you’re using words like, EVERY TIME. NEVER. ALWAYS. You can be bad at something and good at something! Imagine that!
- Don’t think like a victim, “This isn’t fair.” This mentality will feed the weed like Miracle Grow. Which by the way is miraculously poisonous!
- Don’t be a reassurance-junkie. Sure, you might get temporary relief that you are liked but how long before the doubt returns? Seconds? Minutes?
- Remind yourself that you can hack it. If people talk about you so what! They don’t even know your backstory. This has to do with them and what’s in their mind. If you need instructional help with this concept go HERE and explore this website. Take the course! Read the book! This is an important concept!
- Be thankful for the people close and afar who are trying to help you to find your higher person. (Even the Dahlia Lama says he’s not enlightened so if he keeps at it, so can we.)
You Can Avoid Becoming Obsessed and Compulsive About What People Think Of You
Here’s a really important tip. Are you ready? EARLY INTERVENTION. You can avoid all of this by QUICKLY recognizing when you start to:
- Focus more on other people’s wrongdoings than your own. Take responsibility! (Before you point out the sawdust in someone else’s eye, look at the beam in your own. Mathew 7:3 Bible verse.)
- Start seeking reassurance that people like you. You’re really starting to feed the weed now. Don’t do it again!
- Worry that if someone thinks you’re bad, a catastrophic ending will occur. The world is not going to end just because someone doesn’t like you. YOU CAN HANDLE THIS!
- If you are being mistreated, immediately assert yourself. If you don’t you will stuff all your feelings until you implode or explode. Go HERE for a description of how to be a peaceful warrior, not a doormat.
For those of you worrying about what people think…I hope this guide has been helpful. You’ve got a life to live. You’re on this earth for a reason. You, like the rest of us, might not figure out what it is, but if you’re still alive…there’s a reason.
And the reason can’t possibly be to curl up in the fetal position or to not advocate for something you believe in because you’re afraid of what people will think.
I told my Siena college students that if they don’t get fired at least once, they’re not doing something right. You must stand up for what you believe in. No matter what people think of you. No matter if you lose your job. Be willing to fight for what you believe in.
You must not let people rob you of your life, your job, your time with family and friends, all because you’re so consumed with whether someone out there, outside of your circle of love, thinks you’ve done something bad. There’s nothing more important than the hand you are holding. Nothing. Hold this hand now and you’ll know what I mean.
You’re here on this earth…alive for a purpose that no one else can fulfill. You’re the only one that can fulfill this mission. Don’t waste anymore time, even if you don’t know what the mission is.
Is there someone you know who worries too much about what people think? Share this post. Are you someone who worries too much about what people think? I hope you comment. Let me know what helped you decide to hold a hand instead of a worry.