How I stopped caring what others think

For me, it all started a late summer night out with my friends.

I was just beginning my journey of self-development. I was especially concerned about my lack of experience with girls: I had never even kissed a girl.

I always felt like that was something I had to hide and make sure nobody knew about. I worried about what others would think of me if they knew.

But this night was different.

On my way home I went alone to get something to eat at a local hamburger joint. There was no table available, so I sat down by a middle-aged woman.

We started talking.

I don’t know exactly why, but that night I just didn’t want to care anymore. I think I was tired of always trying to hide my big shame; my inexperience with girls.

So, I told her everything about it.

When I stopped caring, something happened.

It was as if the shackles weighing me down finally shattered. It’s still one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done.

I felt unstoppable. All my shame and self-consciousness just washed away.

What’s even funnier is that she didn’t really believe me because she said I seemed so confident about it.

After that night I realized something…

I had been totally honest with who I was to a total stranger, and the world didn’t come crashing down because of it.

Quite the opposite – she was one of the first people in my life who’d seen me as confident.

So, why was I so concerned about hiding it to everyone else?

Here’s what I realized: When we are okay with others knowing about our insecurities – we can become truly confident with who we are.

This didn’t mean I started telling everyone about my fears and insecurities. (That would just be weird.) But my fear of being exposed disappeared.

If anyone would ask me about my experience with women, it wouldn’t throw me off balance. I knew I could just tell them like it is.

And sure enough, with my newfound confidence, meeting girls eventually wasn’t a big issue in my life anymore. Today, I have a wonderful girlfriend as of 6 years.

Here’s me and my girlfriend on a recent trip to Thessaloniki, Greece. It’s a really cool city for anyone with a historical interest (or if you just want to enjoy amazing Greek food and wine by the sea).

How you can stop your fear and insecurity from controlling you

That burger joint experience taught me something fundamental about fear:

Fear feeds on itself. When we avoid it, it becomes stronger.

Here’s what’s funny: When we stop running away from our fears, they eventually stop being scary.

When I finally admitted something I thought would destroy me if it came out, I realized that nothing had changed. I was still me. People still liked me, maybe even a bit more because I became more relaxed and genuine.

The first step to stop caring what others think

To become truly confident and stop caring so much about what others think of us, we need to face and deal with our insecurities.

As long as we walk around in life afraid of being “exposed”, we can never fully be ourselves.

That’s why the first step towards getting an unbreakable confidence is to admit to ourselves what we are insecure about.

We don’t HAVE to let the world know about it, but we need to accept that it’s okay IF the world knows about it.

What’s the worst thing that will happen if your insecurities come true?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I want you to actually try to visualize a worst-case scenario.

It’s healthy to think about because we often realize that even the worst scenarios are quite benign.

Perhaps someone laughs at us. Perhaps people who aren’t our real friends don’t want to hang out. But the world keeps turning, and no one can poke a hole in your surface when your confidence is solid.

This idea is confirmed by research. It’s called self-acceptance and it’s proven to make us more confident.

Self-acceptance is when we acknowledge both our strengths and weaknesses. You could say it’s about seeing ourselves as realistically as we can.

Here are the traits scientists saw improve with self-acceptance:

  1. An increase in self-esteem
  2. Less fear of failure
  3. An increase in self-worth
  4. An increase in independence
  5. Less desire to win the approval of others
  6. Less self-criticism and more self-kindness when mistakes occur
  7. More desire to live life for yourself (and not others)
  8. The ability to take more risks without worrying about the consequences
  9. Feeling freer in life to do what we truly want

Your first mission: Write down something you are afraid of or insecure about. By writing it down, you take the first step towards self-acceptance and becoming more confident in yourself. You also make sure that your fear stops growing.

Bonus mission: If you already did the first mission in the previous email about others judging us, do this instead. Think about how you can challenge and face your fear. Here are some examples:

Write it down here in the comments to take your first step to stop caring what others think.

Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages Socialpro’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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  1. Richard
    I’ve read that social anxiety often doesn’t go away unless you tackle it . I’m in my sixties and getting worked up about a wedding I have to go to. I guess I’m much older than everyone. I’ve lived my life with this fear and avoiding social situations and I think it’s restricted me. Though I had a good job and am married. I’d advise anyone to do their best to help themselves. These emails I am finding very helpful.

  2. I cannot talk to people without getting extremely nervous. I also have never had a girlfriend, and am already in college.

  3. I feel like i don’t belong when i see geoups of people i feel as though nothing i say will grab their attention i feel insecure about the things i like i find interesting

  4. I am always afraid that, when I meet or hang out with a girl I love, I may run out of things to say and it becomes so difficult to keep a conversation with a girl or even my family members. Worst of it all is when it comes to kissing or hugging a girl. I try to creat deep relationship and deep conversation, but been too quiet and not open enough around others made it so hard to keep deep relationship and conversations.

  5. I feel insecure expressing myself in front of the world I feel as if people would judge me negatively make fun of me or find me boring which prevents me from speaking little to none. I would like to change that and be able to express myself and enjoy life to the fullest without perceiving any judgements from people and just do me. Also because of my fears I come across as unrelaxed and tend to seek others approvals and not my own.

  6. I’m insecure about my lack of confidence in doing most everything to the point where it takes the fun out of stuff before I even get started. But in reality when I let go I always perform way better than I even thought I would and the results are seldom terrible or not what I wanted. Its just a deep worry that is very hard to shake when it comes to things I should just be confident about.

  7. I’m afraid that, when I meet or hang out with a different person, that I may run out of things to say, or sound boring and lose that person’s interest. I can never find closure, and it’s become difficult to keep a conversation going even with family and close friends. I can’t even hold a conversation with my own mom, so most of the time, I remain quiet or make small comments, in hopes to get a conversation going, but it’s usually replied with a simple yes or no, making me run out of things to say. I want to get to know them and have more questions to ask, but I don’t know where to begin. So I overthink it, and hijack my own thought process.

  8. I am afraid that people don’t take me seriously..I actually speak too much.. although I am not doing is consciously ,,,i am afraid that whatever I speak people may take it wrong , or feel boring..

  9. I enjoy reading Zootopia and Sonic fanfics and comics. This in and of itself isn’t so bad I suppose, even with the stigma surrounding fanfics. But my main insecurity comes from the fact that most of the time I like to read romantic fanfics/comics, though I’m not limited to just romance. I enjoy romance coupled with action and maybe a little bit of angst when done correctly and with the right characters.

  10. so when i was younger i knock my lip about a couple of times …which made my lips thick ..and since then it was permanent. i am insecure about the fact that i got thick lips…and it lowered my self esteem because i feel like girls wont find me attractive knowing that i have thick lips…. so i just decided to not talk to girls or try to get a girlfriend. a mask had made me feel relieved a bit but yet the more i hide it the worst i feel…really need help overcoming my insecurity

  11. I’m afraid of opening up to others because I fear that I won’t be accepted or will be perceived as weird. This had led to me having a really hard time speaking up in group conversations because I feel I might say something stupid, be judged, laughed at, etc. I crave deep relationships and deep conversations, yet being too quiet and not open enough around others has made it quite hard to form deep relationships.

  12. I’m always afraid of getting into situations that involve quick thinking like performing fast mental calculations (even though I have an excellent academic record), talking to people with whom I started on a wrong foot, situations where I have to assert myself and take a stance (and defend it)…. There are many more such social situations which I tend to avoid subconsciously itself. Have always tried how could I be more social, confident and outgoing.

    • ohhh,, same,,, and what makes it worse is that,, once you don’t have close friends,, u actually cannot share your feeling with someone,, finally ending u in a deadly loneliness

  13. I am afraid of asking this girl on a date. I always get like so close to and than i loose all of my self-confidence and beat myself up about it.
    The closest I came to asking her on a date was asking to see if she wanted to do a google meet(also because of covid). I than can not think of anything to talk about and than it is just a bunch of small talk like: how are you, what are you watching, how was your day, etc.

    • Build a friendly genuine relationship first and then consider asking her out. That way you both have a ton of topics to talk about.

    • I am glad you took the courage to speak. Keep talking. the more you do something the more it becomes natural and soon you will be a professional speaker.

  14. I feel like I’ve so much self doubt that held me back for so long that I’m behind on life. I panic in social situations. I feel like everyone around me knows who they are. What they like. What they agree on and stand for. I kept myself quiet since a young age and now, all grown up, I feel like I miss essential skills to navigate trough society. It’s like feeling erased and not knowing how to get back on track.

    • Hi Sean I’m still at the same point in my life, I feel like I don’t fit in in conversation my friends have and find it hard to get stuck in to a conversation. It feels like I’m not a good talker and find it hard to holdout a conversation.

  15. I am scared that i will be always a loser for not having a good conversation with people they will always judge me for not talking and my shyness will make me more anxious and will burn me till death

  16. I cannot ask girls for personal requests or talk to them at all I feel very afraid. I feel as if I can never be close to anyone at all and sometimes I prefer it that way but sometimes I cry when no one is around really hard. There are specific things I like to listen to when I am lonely I really like the way Tidus narrates in Final Fantasy X the video game.when I hear his voice I don’t think about how afraid I am and I focus on his voice and what he is saying. I can relate to him at times and even if I don’t I still love everything he says.

  17. I am very insecure around guys. All my life I’ve had more girl friends than guy friends. Guys in middle school use to pick on me because of that. They used to embarrass me in front of people. To this day I am nervous/scared when a guy approaches me and starts to talk to me. It’s even scarier when I had to work around other guys. I couldn’t do it so I quit my job at one point. I just want to feel comfortable with guys. I want to stop worrying that I’ll say the wrong things or that I am not masculine enough.

  18. I am afraid that my girlfriend will leave me… I’m scared that she’ll decide that she’s not happy in our relationship anymore, or that my past mistakes have pushed her too far away. I trust that she wouldn’t cheat on me but I’m scared she will leave me because she’d rather be with another man. I feel like there is a wall between us and we’re never going to get thru it. I’m scared that I’m losing the love of my life……

  19. I’m insecure of speaking eith girls, in a circle of friends; I’ve got the feeling though what I’ll say will be foolish, stupid or irrelevant. When I call my friends or they do, I usually don’t know what to Say especially around new people.

    • I feel the same way but realised that there are no right ways or written laws in what one should say. And I appreciated that if people don’t find me interesting it’d be their problem

  20. I have fear of public speaking, playing basketball games with big audience, low confindence with girls
    , when i show up in school, and speaking to my classmates(being judged by them) and everyone else.Fear of anything public almost.

  21. I am insecure about let people know that I am gay,I think that no-one will accept me because of that and my friends who are all straight(as per my knowledge) will maintain distance from me for that reason, no one will mingle up with me, my family will disown me as I live in India and I don’t think that there is much acceptance for gay people here and my grandparents don’t even support love marriage how can they bare that I like boys and I will be lonely af if they come to know about this.

  22. I fear that people will judge me because I have mild cerebral palsy. I walk funny, drag my feet a lot, can’t balance very well and I am slow on speech. Then those who do know, I feel either feel sorry for me and try to be overly accommodating or just laugh at me.

  23. I am afraid of being myself 100% around people, because deeply I am afraid of rejection, and how others percieve me. I am insecure about myself and im always trying to act accordingly to who im around to be validated. I havent really gotten used to being rejected or not accepted because of my sensitive nature. Im also not good with interaction with girls, as this has been a struggle ive dealt with my whole life, I have never had a girlfirend and doesnt know how it feels to have a partner. If anything I sabatoge myself because of the fear of rejection, and Im tired of not being free.

  24. am insecure about looking foolish around people
    also i have a rejection phobia that i always anitcpate rejection happening for sure
    am insecure about my personality i don t want to be the boring one sometime i can be so tri hard and abnoxious just to not look boring or cold


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