Avoiding the Bondage of Worrying about others Opinions

One of the greatest hindrances to an individual living the best life possible is being too concerned about what other people think. Although the opinions of others, particularly those very close, are important, these opinions cannot be allowed to unnecessarily limit the choices that a person makes. Ultimately each person is responsible for his or her own decisions and must be willing to stand up for them when challenged. To be at the mercy of the opinions of others to a great degree is to be brought under submission to these opinions and is a form of self-inflicted slavery.

The path to eliminating worry of what others think begins with a strong sense of self.  Each individual must believe that he or she has value, not based on the opinion of others, but merely because of who he or she is. Fundamental human rights are based on the assumption that each person has value not based on the ability to contribute to society, but merely because he or she exists. This strong sense of self produces the confidence to act on one’s individual choices without being unnecessarily inhibited by concern regarding what someone else may think. An adult person is someone who has the freedom to make real choices and to live with the consequences of those choices. Such a person is not immune to criticism from others, but is able to act with the confidence that the right choice was made given the information available at the time. Choices must be evaluated based on whether or not they are consistent with one’s own core values and not necessarily on the results of the choice or how others evaluate the choice. Having a strong sense of self places a person on the proper path to becoming an individual that properly reflects the true person within.

Worry about what others think results from a lack of confidence in one’s own personal choices. No person can make perfect decisions and in fact such perfection is impossible since the free actions of others cannot be controlled. To act is to introduce into any situation one of many variables that can affect how a situation will develop. Inevitably even the best of intentions will result in a poor result. Attempting to control every variable is not only futile, but will result in increased stress and frustration. The desire to avoid offending others will usually result in more offense that is not intended. Inaction is not always for one’s own benefit or that of another since it often communicates lack of care. Any action involves risk of disappointing another and therefore such worry about disappointment cannot be the primary driver in making a decision.  Because others have diverse points of view, any action that a person takes is likely to result in disappointing someone else. True personal freedom lies in the willingness to act as one believes is best and being ready to accept any negative feedback that results. 

Concern about what others think often is the result of trying to please people that are actually toxic to one’s own life. Each individual must evaluate those around him or her and decide whether that person is seeking to bring benefit or ill. Because some people have been truly hurt and damaged by others, they are unable to respond positively to anything that a person does. They are toxic people and will bring anyone within their sphere, who allows them to, down into their damaged lives. Attempting to please someone who consistently responds negatively will result in continued pain and frustration and will do nothing to advance an individual’s life. While it is not always possible to remove such people from a person’s life, it is possible to reject their attempts to draw one into the destruction of their lives. Unreasonable demands can never be met and no attempt should be made to do so.

While worry about what others think is not useful, it is important to identify those in one’s life who do seek to give positive advice and to listen to that advice. No individual lives alone and it is necessary to listen to wise, good counsel from those who have proved themselves to have true care for one’s own welfare. A person must be able to distinguish between worry which seeks to avoid negative feedback and the receiving of wise, constructive advice which is to one’s benefit. Worry is like a cancer that eats a person up from inside and leads to an ever more negative self image. Good, wise advice leads a person to make decisions that make one a better person and help one to live in a way that is consistent with one’s own deepest core values.

Worry about what others think develops at an early age as a person seeks to please others and develops his or her place in society. Unfortunately, this worry can often lead to slavery to the opinions of others which are often at odds with one’s own core values. Such worry must be eliminated if a person is to be who he or she truly desires to be. The freedom that results from acting on one’s truest convictions and the confidence that results from being willing to accept that some others will not agree is the way to true satisfaction in life. The drive to live such a life is the best incentive to put away such worry and to act according to wise, caring advice that coincides with the values that lie at one’s deepest core. As choices are made for one’s best, worry will slowly fall away and a satisfied life will result.