What Will Other People Think of You?

November 14th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Don’t waste a moment of your precious life worrying about what other people will think of you. No good can come of it.

The truth is that you’ll waste far more energy imagining what others think of you than those people will ever invest in it themselves. Most people are far too preoccupied with their own lives to devote considerable attention to what you’re doing. While you’re worrying about what they think of you, they’re worrying about what you think of them. Just worrying your lives away…

Instead of being concerned with that others think, become concerned with what you think of yourself. Your opinion of yourself matters far more than the opinions of others, no matter how wise, intelligent, or well-meaning you think they are.

Realize that other people’s opinions of you are theirs alone and have very little to do with you. No one else really knows what you’re capable of. When you allow others to have their reaction without taking ownership of it yourself, you empower yourself.

Don’t fear that you’ll turn into some kind of inconsiderate, anti-social jerk if you stop being concerned with what others think of you. Even as you meet with resistance from others, you’ll be serving as a role model to help them overcome their own fears.

Whenever you stretch yourself to take bold new actions, like starting a new business or entering a new relationship, don’t be surprised to get a negative reaction from those around you. It’s common. Others may launch into long-winded explanations about why you’re doomed to failure. But there’s no need to let that stop you. Most of the time they’ll be speaking from fear, not love, anyway. Fear speaks from limitation; love speaks from possibility.

What happens if those other people were actually right though? What if you go out and fail big even after they warned you it would happen? It doesn’t matter. Even when they’re right, they’re still wrong. You’re supposed to go out and fail a lot. It’s perfectly OK for everyone around you to tell you you’re going to fail and for you to go out and fall flat on your face right in front of them. That’s supposed to happen. The real lesson is for you to learn to be OK with that.

Quite a number of times I’ve been warned by others not to do something, but I went ahead and did it anyway and failed just as they predicted. However, by failing on my own, I learned valuable new insights, and my future attempts along those same lines eventually led to success, sometimes even a major breakthrough. Those successes would never have occurred if I’d never set foot out the door.

The truth is that you’re going to fail — a lot. Get used to it! Make failure your friend. Those failures are not the opposite of success — they’re an integral part of success. Understand that it’s absolutely, perfectly fine to go out and start a new business and watch it go bankrupt. It’s fine to enter a new relationship and watch it blow up in your face. It’s fine to give a speech and get booed off the stage.

You’re supposed to fail. Failure is one of the best ways we humans learn and grow. Allow yourself to be human.

But even more importantly than that, you need to build self-confidence, self-knowledge, and self-trust. You need to learn what your true capabilities are. And you’ll never discover that by sitting still. Even you don’t know what you’re capable of until you’ve tried it, so how can other people possibly know? Just because they sound certain doesn’t mean they’re right.

Sometimes you’ll find that other people were indeed right about you (but only in the short term). But other times you’ll find they were dead wrong. It doesn’t matter what other people think you can do. What matters is what you can actually do. And in order to figure out what that is, you’ve got to go out and take some risks. You must attempt some of those things you aren’t sure you can accomplish.

Self-trust is a far greater possession than anything you might lose along the way. It’s not the end of the world if you lose all your material possessions, blow a big project, or make a complete fool of yourself. You can dust yourself off and keep right on going. But if you can’t trust yourself to take action on what you believe is best, then for you, that is the end of the world.

Consider what it was like for me to say to my friends last year, “You know… I’m going to stop doing game development and launch a new personal development business. And it’s going to be great.” Do you think I received loads of support and encouragement to pursue this goal? Not remotely. Many people thought I was nuts. Some probably still do. And that’s perfectly OK, but it doesn’t affect my actions in the least. Why? Because I trust myself. Other people can’t see into my soul and know what I’m capable of. When they tell me I can’t do something, all I see is a person who’s very afraid and needs help breaking the pattern of fear.

If other people around you are showering you with “can’ts” and “shouldn’ts,” simply ignore them. Their fear has nothing to do with you. Put your faith in yourself. You may make some bad decisions at first, but in the long run, you’ll stretch way beyond your current limitations. And that’s when your greatest dreams will start to become reality.

Faith in yourself isn’t a result of success. It’s the cause of it.


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