What Happens To Your Mind When You Stop Worrying About What Others Think?

It's perfectly natural to turn a conversation over in your head after dinner and wonder if something you said was not in good taste. Did you offend someone? Are they going to think poorly of you? In fact, caring and worrying about what other people think of you is part and parcel of being human. 

Some amount of worry in this regard can keep you from hurting people you care about. But when this concern reaches a crippling level and if you find yourself being anxious all day, a lot can happen to your mind and body. According to psychologist, author, and talk show host Kelly Neff, spending a lot of energy worrying about what those around you might think of you, creates an "unhealthy and stressful" space in your mind, per Mind Body Green. Furthermore, the habit can leave us feeling insecure too. 

People are going to think certain things about you whether you like it or not. The important thing is to remember that you don't have control over their thoughts — you only have control over your own. Here's what happens to your own mind when you spend less time wondering what's going on in the minds of others. 

You'll feel happier, freer, and more confident

When you stop dedicating precious space in your mind to worrying about how others perceive you, you're making space for bigger and more positive things, according to Neff. Whether that be learning to live in the present or chasing after your dreams, the outcome is one of joy and not anxiety. "You'll be amazed at how happy and free you feel when you spend time doing what you love instead of worrying about what other people think," Neff explained.

You also learn to make peace with the fact that people will always think what they want about you, no matter what you do. You can never please everyone, nor should you try. Another important realization you'll reach is that making mistakes is part of being human, and judging yourself or someone else is not going to do anyone any good. The more you learn to reflect on your own values as a way to stop worrying about what others think of you, the more confident and grounded you can become as a person. It is also a healthy way to learn self-acceptance.

In addition to learning not to assume things when it comes to what other people could be thinking of you, you will also learn that people don't care as much as you think they do. This can be incredibly liberating.

How to stop caring about what others think of you

It will take an intentional effort to break the habit of worrying too much but it is possible. Begin by telling yourself that you might be wrong in assuming that people are very interested in you. If think this way, you might have what the professionals call "the spotlight effect." Just like a spotlight can illuminate flaws in whatever is under its glare, you might be overly consumed with thinking that people are scrutinizing your words and actions.

If an unwelcome assumption enters your mind, you can try to change the narration to a more positive one. You may also want to consider widening your social circle to include more empowering people in it. Oftentimes, part of the problem lies in you being your own worst critic, so try and catch yourself when you judge yourself too harshly the next time. Do the same if you find yourself criticizing someone else. You might be able to hold off on thinking negatively of yourself if you practice doing the same for others. 

The journey of self-acceptance is a long one and it's important to be kind to yourself through it. Remind yourself that others are going through similar journeys as well.