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How to gain Confidence

I’m passionate about the topic of confidence and there are so many different aspects to it and so many different levels.

The first point to look at is around your focus. If you feel that you are lacking in confidence, my guess would be that your focus is on what you can’t do, where you failed, and how you feel that you’ve got things wrong. What would happen if you changed your focus? What would happen if you shifted your perspective from where it was into a new one, which you maybe have to your imagination with, but what if you focused in on what you have achieved, things that you have been successful in, and things that you have done? So for example, what if you started to think about all that you’ve achieved in your life from learning to talk, learning to walk, learning to pass an exam, swim, ride a bike, drive a car? The list I am sure is endless of all the things that you really have done. What would happen and how do you think you would feel if that was your focus on a daily basis?

The second aspect to look at is around your language. How are you actually talking to yourself both internally and externally because that’s a real key indicator of how you feel about yourself? If you want to grow your confidence then if you make a mistake and then you’re telling yourself what an idiot you are or how stupid you are.., then really is that going to inspire confidence in you to have another go or even have an attempt at something new? Look at how you’re speaking to yourself, language is so important. Start to use kind language, give yourself a break, and actually be nice to yourself.

Would you really speak to a best friend or a family member or even a child the way you speak to yourself currently? Yet you would probably want them to have confidence in themselves so because you want them to have confidence, you speak kindly to them.

How about if you turn that around and started speaking kindly to yourself? I know the difference that it’s made in my life and I’m sure that if you started to put that into practice you’ll gain even more confidence in yourself, which again is what you want to do, is it not?

My final thing for you to think about is rather than thinking about what’s gone wrong and thinking about the mistakes that you’ve made, think about the lessons that you’ve learnt. Every single day we’ll trip up, fall over, say the incorrect thing, and get something wrong. All of those things are there to help us learn so instead of focusing on getting it wrong and being a bad person, why not stop and at the end of the day ask yourself what have I learnt today? What have I have learnt today, and not only that, how can I use that information in the future? I know that when you learnt to walk as a child you would have fallen over at some point yet you didn’t sit there and stop. What you did is you decided to learn and use the information from falling over to get back up again and have another go, and you use that information to inform your next step. So at the end of every day, take a moment to think about how you can use the information from that day, those lessons, to help you in the future.

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How to deal with criminality

I have found this on tumblr and it touched me so deeply I have to share it here.

I absolutely love this :’)

I wish this happened in our society.

In this African tribe, when someone does something harmful, they take the person to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds them. 

For two days, they will say to the man all the good things that he has done.

The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as a good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness. 

But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.

The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.

They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: “I am good.”

Shikoba Nabajyotisaikia!

NABAJYOTISAIKIA, is a compliment used in South Africa and means: “I respect you, I cherish you. You matter to me.” In response, people say SHIKOBA, which is: “So, I exist for you.”

How to overcome Social Anxiety

I have suffered from social anxiety for many years and I know how limiting and horrible it feels. So I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I overcame my social anxiety and how I can help other people that are suffering from it.

I have developed a few strategies that you can use to reduce your social anxiety. These are:

  1. Learning how to challenge your unhelpful thoughts and see things in a more realistic light.
  2. Reducing your tendency of focusing on yourself during social interactions.
  3. Removing the use o safety behaviors and gradually confronting your fears.

 Challenging unhelpful thoughts

The way that we think about things has an impact on our entire life. The root of a social anxiety are unhealthy beliefs which are just thoughts we have been thinking for too long. Many of these beliefs occur outside of our control, and can be negative and unhelpful. It is therefore important to remember that they are just thoughts, without any real basis, and are not necessarily facts. Even though we may believe a lot of our unhelpful thoughts when we are nervous, it is good to remember that they should be questioned as they are often based on wrong assumptions.

You might have unhelpful thoughts about all kinds of things. Here are some examples:

Before Social Situations

  • I’ll make a fool of myself
  • I’ll have nothing to say
  • I’ll go bright red / I’ll stammer

During Social Situations:

  • Everyone’s staring at me
  • I’m useless

After Social Situations

  • Everyone thought I was an idiot
  • I’d be better off not even bothering
  • I sounded like an idiot

About Yourself:

  • I’m weird
  • No-one likes me
  • I’m not very funny

First you need to be able to recognise an unhelpful thought. Then you can challenge it. Being aware of the common patterns that unhelpful thoughts follow can help you to recognise when you have them. Here are some of the common patterns that our unhelpful thoughts follow:

Predicting the Future:
When we are shy or socially anxious it is common for us to spend a lot of time thinking about the future and predicting what could go wrong, rather than just letting things be. In the end most of our predictions don’t happen and we have wasted time and energy being worried and upset about them. For example:

  • You worry that you will go red, stammer, and that everyone will dislike you.
  • You assume that you will be the centre of attention and everyone will stare at you.

These thoughts naturally make you anxious before you even arrive in a social situation.

Mind Reading:
This means that you make assumptions about others’ beliefs without having any real evidence to support them. For example:

  • He thinks I’m an idiot.
  • They think I look ugly.

Such ways of thinking can soon lower our mood and self-esteem.

Taking Things Personally:
When people are socially anxious or shy, they often take things to heart. For example:

  • You walk past a group who are laughing and assume the joke is at your expense.
Over Generalising:
Based on one isolated incident you assume that all others will follow a similar pattern in the future. For example:

  • Because you believe that one presentation went badly, you assume all others will follow the same pattern.
What If Statements:
Have you ever wondered “what if” something bad happens? For example:

  • What if nobody likes me?
  • What if I run out of things to say?

These thoughts also make you dread situations beforehand.

Focusing on the Negatives:
After a social gathering, you tend to focus on the parts of the evening that you believe didn’t go well. At the same time, you gloss over positive parts of the evening. For example:

  • You dwell on the one conversation which ran out of steam quickly, whilst forgetting the fact that you mingled well throughout the rest of the evening.
Labelling:
Do you label yourself with negative words? For example:

  • I’m boring.
  • I’m uninteresting.
  • I’m weird.
  • I’m unlovable.

These, often long held beliefs about yourself, ensure your confidence and self-esteem remains low.

Challenges to an unhelpful thought
Now you can challenge your unhelpful thoughts by asking these questions.
Is there any evidence that contradicts this thought?
I never run out of things to say to my friends, so why should this be different.
What would your friend say to you if they knew what you were thinking?
They would probably say – don’t be silly, you’re always good company.
How will you feel about this in 6 months time?
I probably won’t care. Even if it goes wrong I’ll have forgotten about it by then.
What are the costs and benefits of thinking in this way?
Costs: It’s making me nervous before I even go into the situation. It’s made me feel inadequate.
Benefits: I can’t really think of any.
Is there a another way of looking at this this situation?
Even if I don’t have anything to say, it’s not just up to me to keep conversations going. It’s everyone’s responsibility.

Reducing internal focus during social interactions

When we are socially anxious, we tend to spend a lot of time concentrating on our own bodily sensations during social interactions. This is because we fear that our anxiety is visible to others. For example, we may spend time trying to judge whether we are sweating, shaking, or blushing.

Although we do this in the hope being reassured that we are not visibly anxious, this strategy actually just makes things much worse. This is because we tend to overestimate how visible our anxiety is and this of course makes us feel even more self conscious. Also, by focusing on ourselves, we are prevented from fully concentrating on the conversations around us. This naturally makes it more difficult to join properly and we usually end up interacting less well than we could. This strengthens our beliefs that we are no good in such situations. The reality is that our anxiety is a lot less visible than we think. Often we have no idea if someone is anxious or not and it can help to remember this.

Similarly, when we feel socially anxious, we tend to spend time monitoring how well we are performing during social interactions. This too prevents us from paying proper attention to the conversations we are engaged in. For example, we may spend time trying to figure out if our voice sounds shaky, or go over and over the things we have said in our minds. Again, by doing so, we end up finding it hard to follow conversations which likely makes us perform worse. Given all of this, it is helpful to try to remove this tendency to focus on ourselves. Below you will find tips designed to help you during social interactions:

  • Try to spend less time focusing on your own physical symptoms in social situations.
  • Remember anxiety is much less visible than you imagine.
  • Even if you are visibly anxious, it does not necessarily mean that you will be thought badly of. Anxiety is something we all experience and it does not make you unusual.
  • Just because you feel anxious, it does not mean that you are performing poorly.
  • Remember – you are not the central focus of everyone’s attention. There are plenty of other things for people to think and talk about.
  • Really try to concentrate on the conversation you are involved in. Don’t think about how you appear or how well you are performing.
  • Don’t replay parts of the conversation in your mind, instead just focus on what is being said in the present moment.
  • We do not need to perform perfectly or brilliantly in every social interaction we have, no-one can achieve such high standards.
  • Don’t worry too much if there are silences. Everyone has a responsibility to keep conversations going. Besides, silences are ok and do not always need filled.
  • Just be yourself.’ Why bother when it is impossible for everyone to like us anyway.

Removing the use of avoidance and safety behaviors

When we are socially anxious, we tend to avoid social situations (parties, speaking in front of groups, going out). However if we keep avoiding the situations we fear, we never get the chance to prove to ourselves that we can cope in them and our confidence remains low. Similarly, whenever socially anxious people do enter the situations they fear, they tend to use safety behaviors (sticking besides a good friend at a party, staying silent when in a small group to avoid looking foolish…). Although these behaviors seem to help in the short term, they are actually unhelpful. This is because they stop people from learning that they could have coped fine without relying on such things. Therefore, like avoidance, safety behaviors stop us from learning that we can cope in such situations and our anxiety towards them continues.

Because of this, the best way to reduce our anxiety towards social situations is to gradually confront them, without relying on safety behaviors. Of course, confronting social situations can be horrifying, especially given that our anxiety levels often rise when we do it. If you repeatedly allow yourself to become involved in a short conversation, rather than avoid it, you can begin to prove that you can handle these scenarios much more effectively than you think and your confidence will soon rise.

How to develop a positive body image

Considering that our body is the only place we have to live in, it’s very important that we build a positive relationship with it.

Today’s article is a guide to love your body. These are the steps I have taken in moving from someone who didn’t love her body at all, to someone who fully embraces what her body is today and continually improves it to be better.

My wish is that those of you with poor body images will find this guide helpful. Sure, you may hate your body today. Sure, you may have body parts which do not match your ideal body vision. Sure, you may wish that you have an entirely different body altogether. Regardless, it is possible to develop an unconditional, unadulterated love for your body—just as I have. This guide will show you how.

1. Identify the things you do like about your body and start loving them.

Someone with self-body-hate has a tendency to zoom down right to the hateful parts of his/her body whenever he/she sees the mirror. Even if there isn’t anything to hate about a particular body part, he/she can look at that body part and spot imperfections. I can relate because this was the lens I used to wear.

If this is the case for you too, I want you to try something different. The next time you look at your body, look for things that you do like instead. Maybe you have lips that are nice and pouty. Maybe you have killer curves. Maybe you have beautiful eyes. Maybe you have a great smile. Maybe you have nice cheeks.  Maybe you have nice teeth.

Whatever these things are, notice them. Then, celebrate them. Give them credit for being what they are.

Then, make this part of your daily routine whenever you look into the mirror or see images of yourself.

This appreciation process was what I did in my early phase of overcoming my negative body image. My natural tendency then was to notice my body “fats” and put them down repeatedly. This would include my tummy, my “thick” thighs, my double chin, my baby fats, and my round hips. Imagine how tough it was when I gave myself the challenge to look into the mirror and spot things that I liked instead.

While my mind drew a blank for the first few seconds, something soon got my attention—my complexion.

I have a natural, fair complexion which many people often compliment. I realized how lucky I am to have the fair skin as I do today.

Next, I noticed my lips. I suddenly noticed the beauty of my lips in a way I had never noticed before. People have often praised me on my lips before; they would say I have a nice shape to my lips.

Then, I saw my eyes. Oh yes, my eyes, I thought. How could I have forgotten about them?

And the list went on.

With each feature I noticed, something new would catch my attention. Suddenly, I realized there are so many things worth liking about my body—perhaps even more than the number of things I was hating about it. I just had not noticed the former because I had been so busy hating on my body all this while. I felt sad, as it meant that I had been denying my body of the appreciation and love that it deserved.

What did I do then? I began to celebrate the things that I liked about my body. Every time I looked into the mirror, I would dedicate time to appreciating my face and body. It came to a point where the celebration of my looks is now part of my daily routine—not out of narcissism, but out of self-appreciation.

2. Recognize your body is not at fault.

I realized that my body is simply a neutral entity with no emotions. So what if I hate it? So what if I keep scolding it? It’s not going to look any different (as a result of my hating and scolding). If anything, looking back, I actually felt that my body probably looked more haggard than it should because I was harboring so much negative energy against it.

I eventually realized that the only way to address my body issues was (a) to take responsibility for my body woes and (b) to work through them. This meant addressing my self-hate issues. This meant fixing my eating problems and increasing my activity level so that I would achieve a slimmer physique.

While it’s natural to finger point at your body and blame it for all your body woes because it is the one carrying the objects of disdain (such as your fat thighs, chubby cheeks, flabby shoulders, and so on), it’s futile to do so. That’s because your body is neutral. It has no mind of its own. It was created to support your existence and to let you live on earth.

Take responsibility for your body issues and work through them instead of sitting around and hating on your body all day long. This is where the next point comes in.

3. Get to the root of your self-body-hate issues.

Your self-body-hate arose as a symptom of a separate issue. To eradicate your self-body-hate permanently, get to its root cause.

Here are three questions to get started:

  1. What do you dislike about your body?
  2. Why do you hate/dislike your body / body part?
  3. (For whatever answers that come up from Q2…) Why?
From Q3, keep drilling into the answers until you get to the root cause of your self-body-hate. After that, devise a plan to address this root cause.

For example,

  1. What do you dislike about your body? — I dislike my eyes, my large thighs, and my big belly.
  2. Why do you hate/dislike your body / body part? — Because they are so ugly.
  3. (For whatever answers that come up from Q2…) Why? — Because they don’t give me the attention I deserve.
    • What do you mean? — Because guys would pay attention to the girls with big eyes, small thighs, and a flat tummy.
    • Why does this bother you? — Because I want guys to pay attention to me too.
    • Why? — Because guys have rarely paid attention to me since I was young.
    • But is this the fault of your body though? — No it isn’t. My self-body-hate is merely an expression of my frustration of my lack of appeal to the opposite gender.
    • What can you do about this? Firstly, I can work on being more confident. It is said that confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can ever have. Secondly, I should embrace the natural beauty of my looks. Thirdly, if I have an issue with my body weight, I should work on losing weight, rather than hating my body on it. My body is an innocent party that has nothing to do with my self-body-issues.

Notice how the answers started off as surface-level responses (ugly features). Then, they quickly moved down to a deeper-level issue (not being appealing to the opposite gender) through strategic probing. This is then followed by a wrapping of the issue with proper next steps.

For whatever you may seem to dislike/hate about your body, chances are this emotion stems from a deeper-level issue, with body hate being a symptom of the problem. You need to uncover this deeper-level issue by repeatedly challenging the surface-level answers you receive from this exercise.

For me, my self-body-hate was driven by three factors: (a) my fixation with one notion of beauty, in part due to media conditioning and my childhood stories, (b) my lack of respect for my body, (c) my hatred for myself.

4. Work towards your ideal vision of your body, not anyone else’s ideal vision.

One of people’s key motivators to lose weight/change their appearance/look better is to appeal to the opposite gender.

Yet, I want you to always remember to work towards your ideal vision of your body. Meaning—what do you see as the best version of your body? What do you see as your ideal weight (factoring in the healthy height and weight guidelines)? What do you see as your ideal fitness level? Work towards these visions, not other’s visions.

For example, many girls (including me in the past) strive to be skinny because it’s supposedly an archetype of beauty.

However, a skinny body is merely a vision projected by the media. Yes, perhaps some guys do like stick-skinny girls. But if your ideal vision of your body is to have a wholesome body with nice curves, then get that body and rock it! There will always be different guys with different tastes, and whoever likes your body will be drawn to you, and whoever doesn’t like it, won’t.

The most important thing to note is that this is your body, your life. Don’t mold your body just to match others’ visions. Work towards a body that you love, first and foremost. You are the key target audience of your body; everyone else is secondary. Look good for yourself first, then worry about what others think (or better still, don’t worry at all).

5. Embrace the individual beauty of your body. (Unchain yourself from media’s conditioning.)

Size zero. Big eyes. Sharp nose. Sharp chin. Big, pouty lips. Flawless complexion. Long, thin legs. Small waist. Big boobs.

The above is a standard list of criteria for what is perceived to be beauty for a female.

All our lives, we have been fed a certain image of beauty by others. All our lives, we have thought beauty to mean having set features, a set look, and a set height/weight.

However, what if that isn’t true? What if beauty has always been in us all along, just that we are not privy to it due to our conditioning?

Our perception of beauty has been narrowly defined by the media all our lives.

For a while I bought into this image as well. I thought beauty was a class reserved only for people who met that stringent list of criteria.

But then I realized that beauty is more than just about being a certain size and looking a certain way. It made me realize that—hey—beauty doesn’t just in one form, one shape, one color, and one size. Beauty exists everywhere—in all forms, all shapes, all colors, and all sizes

Meaning: there is no one look that is more or less beautiful than another; all looks are beautiful in themselves. This includes your look: whatever features and body type you have. It’s a look that is beautiful and unique to you, in your own special way.

The unfortunate thing is that most people are so fixated on that one notion of beauty that they fail to recognize how beautiful they truly are. And this is such a waste.

Here’s something I want you to do from now on: Rather than stack your body up against a certain mental image, see your body as is. See every single feature of your face/body as it is, without expectations of what it should be or shouldn’t be. Look. Observe. And feel.

Who knows, you may start seeing something you have never seen before. A realization of how beautiful you actually are. A new-found appreciation for your beauty.

6. Be Grateful for Your Body

Are you grateful for the body you have today? Or do you take it for granted?

I find it sad that there are fully able-bodied people berate their bodies endlessly, while you have people who are disabled who utilize their bodies in ways better than those fully able-bodied people ever will.

Take for example, Nick Vujicic. Born with no hands and no legs due to tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder, he struggled mentally, emotionally, and physically as a child due to this condition. He eventually came to terms with his disability and started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs, at the age of seventeen.

You can watch a video about him when you visit this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLDBgRAvmew

Today, Nick is married (as of 2012), has a son (as of 2013), and speaks all over the world, inspiring people with his personal story of disability, personal struggle, and success.

Another example is Lizzie Velasquez. You can watch her inspiring speech here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c62Aqdlzvqk. She is one of only three people on Earth born with an unusual genetic ailment that prevents her from gaining any weight. She discovered a video of herself on YouTube labeled “The World’s Ugliest Woman” in high school. Unfortunately, the video had already received four million hits on the website. Instead of suffering from anger, hopelessness and depression, she took a different approach to her attitude. After educating some high school freshmen about her rare disorder, she challenged the issue of bullying face-to-face and generated a schedule of dialogue arrangements. As a result, she appeared on multiple television programs which allowed her to produce three books, including “Be Beautiful, Be You.

Think about Nick and Lizzie, then think about how you can better appreciate your body today. Despite being disabled, they have embraced their bodies and accomplished so much in their lives. It’s a sign to us to be grateful for the bodies we have today and put them to better use.

7. Be the best owner of your body.

Last but not least, be the best owner of your body.

You may be given this body at birth. However, have you justified your place as your body’s rightful owner? Have you cared and treated your body in a way that’s in its highest good of all?

Chances are you haven’t. So many of us abuse our bodies. We smoke, drink, eat junk food, laze around (or exercise ferociously for some), hurt ourselves, deprive ourselves of sleep, etc.—without considering the damage we are doing with each of those actions.

Myself, I used to abuse my body with binge eating, ferocious exercising thereafter, and minimal rest due to my constant self-pressurization. In retrospect, I was such an unworthy owner of my body. I was blessed with this body, and yet I failed to take good care of it.

The good thing is that my previous episode of body abuse and self-body-hate made me truly treasure my body. Today, I longer abuse my body. I rest when I need to. I consume the best food for my body. I regulate my eating. I engage in a healthy level of physical activity to keep my body fit. I don’t drink except at specific social outings, and even then that only happens once every few months.

I’m proud to say that I now manage my body in a way that’s to its highest good, and I can’t think of anyone who can be a better owner of my body than me myself.

Here are some questions to get you going in being the best owner of your body:

  1. What is your ideal, healthiest diet for your body?
  2. What is your ideal level of physical activity that will keep your body at prime condition?
  3. What lifestyle habits/changes will make the biggest difference in your life?
  4. Do you have any bad habits which are jeopardizing your body and which you should cut right away? What are they?
  5. For your answers to Q1–4, how can you start realizing them today?

How to stop caring about what others think

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld

I have realized how much I cared about other people’s opinions. My entire sense of self worth was dependent on how other people saw me. The more I cared about people’s opinion, the more their opinion was affecting me. Their opinions eventually became my reality. I have made people’s expectations my priority. I ignored my own desires and I never expressed my true ideas and emotions.

I used to take everything personally. Someone could say something to me, and it bothered me all day. As James Frey said: “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” Yes, I that’s exactly what I was, a prisoner. My shyness and my fear of rejection has ruined so many good opportunities. Across the room I saw what could be the person of my dreams, but I didn’t approach because of what a room full of strangers might think if I’m rejected. By caring what these strangers think, I was allowing people I’ll never see again to control my behavior. I could give you millions of other examples similar to this one.

It wasn’t until just recently when I realized what a horrible people pleaser I am. I lived a life of constriction. And to live a life of constriction is to only live a half life. I’ve decided that I don’t want to live this way anymore. I no longer want other people to control my life.

I have realized that when I stop trying to impress others, I can express my true self more fully and connect with people, more genuinely, openly, intimately. The less time and energy I spend on image management, on making my life presentable to others, the more time I can spend on things that really matter.

I came to the conclusion that caring about what other people think about us is completely illogical.

So how can you stop worrying about what people think of you? I’ve made a list of reason that could help you:

1. People will believe what they want to believe

Human beings generally have set prejudices (however ridiculous) about certain things that are hard to change, no matter how much of an effort you make. It is impossible to know exactly what people are thinking, let alone why they’re thinking it.

Although you may be able to influence people’s thoughts with your words or actions, you can only do so up to a certain point. You can never have total control over anyone’s thoughts, no matter how hard you try. So why would you even waste your time bothering to do so? With 7 billion people on the planet, we have 7 billion different sets of preferences. Good luck trying to match up with all of them!

2. People don’t care nearly as much as you think they do

No matter how much people may gossip about you, judge you, or criticize you, we are all pretty self-centered, whether we admit it or not.

It may not necessarily be in a bad or selfish way, but we do tend to give a great deal of importance to ourselves. So the probability is that while you’re busy worrying about what they think of you, they are too busy worrying about themselves to give you any real importance at all.

3. You don’t need anyone’s approval

Being liked, being admired and being praised feels incredible. Gaining someone’s approval through something you’ve done or said is a really great feeling. But since you cannot control anyone’s thoughts, it will eventually drive you insane.

Well, you know what? You don’t need approval as much as you think you do. While being liked feels amazing, what feels even better is being able to accept the fact that some people are going to dislike you no matter what, and being absolutely okay with it because you couldn’t care less.

If people like you better, admire you more and praise you a whole lot due to something you’ve done for yourself, take it as a bonus. Just don’t be a slave to people’s approval. Approval is addictive, and you might very well end up losing yourself in the process of constantly searching for it.

4. What Difference Does it Make to You?

What does it really mean to your life?

If you decide to wear something unusual and you are met with (what you interpret as) a disapproving look from someone else, how does that really affect your life?

Try to think about your answer in tangible terms. Sure, you might be embarrassed momentarily, but five years from now, or even five days from now, how much will their opinions really matter to you?

5. Stop making assumptions

You are not a mind reader. You may think you know what other people think, but unless you ask them directly (and assuming you would get an honest answer), you will never truly know.

6. Life Is Complicated

People have many things going on their lives. They have unfulfilled desires to dream about, worries to worry about, families and to care for, jobs to do and careers to advance, bills to pay, chores to be done, pets to walk, plans to be made, hobbies to indulge, TV and movies to watch, music to listen to, sports to follow, religions to follow and so on.

If people sleep eight hours a day and work another eight, that leaves only another eight hours to devote to those other things.

How much of those eight hours do you think another person would devote to thinking about you and your perceived short-comings?

7. Everybody’s Doing It

Remember that everyone has negative thoughts about other people and themselves from time to time. So when you are worried about someone in particular, remember that they too worry about what someone else thinks of them (maybe even you). They, too, have thought negatively of by someone in their life. And you, too, think negative thoughts about other people from time to time.

8. The people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind

There is something about people who dislike you that makes you want to make them like you even more. There is something about people who disapprove of you that makes you want their approval even more badly. Maybe it’s the challenge, maybe you just want to prove them wrong – whatever it is, it’s an endless cycle. Once you impress one person, you’re going to want another person’s approval, and once you get that person’s approval you’re going to want to make some other person like you and so on.

Why bother with them when there are people who like you, and will continue to like you just the way you are? Sometimes we are so focused on people who don’t matter that we end up neglecting the people who do. These are people who are going to support you, care about you and be there for you no matter what. These are people who make you feel good, people you’re comfortable around and don’t need to impress. Figure out who these people are and focus on them instead.

Now, by all means, not caring doesn’t mean becoming an incredibly rude, insensitive and incredibly egoistic person who does whatever they please, because they couldn’t care less about anything or anyone. The idea isn’t to stop caring completely – it’s to stop caring enough to be able to make your own decisions based on your priorities, your values and your ambitions and not other people’s opinions.

Be authentic. Have the courage to allow people to see the real you. Be willing to be judged, and even encourage it. It’s good for self-knowledge and for developing thick skin. As you become and express your best self, others will think great things about you, and the few that don’t won’t matter anyway. If all this is too extreme for you, start by taking small steps. Rather than not caring at all what others think of you, start by just caring less. Be open to what they think and feel, and consider their opinions, but decide for yourself how to act. Care what the important people in your life think, but only those whose opinions you value. Strangers should not get a vote in how you live your life.