How to Stop Obsessing on What People Think About You

When someone declares, “I Don’t Care What People Think,” they are often lying. Either they’re not being truthful with themselves or they are disconnected from their relational world.

There is a lot of tough talk in the world, where people like to yell with a megaphone that they don’t care what people think. The louder they yell it, the more the opposite is probably true.

Of course you are aware of what people think to some extent, because we are relationally wired. You cannot have effective relationships if you don’t become aware of how people you interact with think and feel. Part of relationship connection is reading what someone else is communicating. Through voice, tone, body language and response, we read how people feel about us and it becomes a factor which influences our relationships.

The problem is that when your grid for being loved, validation and affirmed is not established from a young age, your sense of what other people think can own you. Instead of being aware of what people think just being an awareness, what people think becomes a dominating factor.

People Pleasing and the Fear of Man

If what people think drives your thinking and decisions, the fear of man will own your world. People pleasing will become a dominant force. In the meantime, you will lose an understanding of who you are. You will form your sense of identity based on the polls of opinion. And at the end of the day, you will still feel empty and unfulfilled.

Overthinking about what people think will lead you to a bitter ditch of emotional burnout. You’ll end up being mad at the world, because you never received from people what you can only get from God. Only God can fill the approval and validation your heart longs for.

If you have a problem with worrying and even obsessing about what people think about you, then it’s important to recognize it and invite God to help you walk free. Otherwise your potential in life will always have a cap.

Getting to the Root

What makes us vulnerable to looking for what people think is a rejection mindset. The unhealed wounds and empty places in our heart will be captured by rejection’s deception. Therefore we are trained to fill those places with gaining approval and validation from people.

The problem is that rejection teaches us to focus on what people think so much, we are never satisfied. It’s a never ending cycle. They are left empty, but keep seeking it anyway. In fact, under a rejection mindset, many people lose a sense of self-awareness that they are constantly searching for what people think of them.

Freedom from What People Think

The goal of freedom is not to disconnect yourself from people or move into isolation. The healing process takes place when we stop listening to rejection and cease the vigilant search of people’s opinions as the source of our self-esteem.

Transformation involves turning our frequency into listening to what God says about us. It involves unplugging yourself from what people think as the foundation for how you feel about yourself. When you do this, you’ll start making decisions on what is right, not on what people may think. But this only happens as you untangle yourself from the approval of others as your source for self-esteem.

Getting Real About What People Think

We are all in a process of learning to let go and not allow what people think to dominate our thinking. It’s a process and one we often have to learn the hard way.

When I first started off in ministry work at a very young age, I was easily swayed by the resisting opinions of people about me. I became more aware of what my critics said than what God said or what healthy leaders said to me. I could walk into a room and pick out all the naysayers or unsupportive people. At times, I adjusted my words and communication to try and appease them. It never worked and never will. I had to unplug my self-esteem from this dysfunctional habit.

Years later, does it hurt if someone attacks me or comes across in a negative way? Of course it does. People who say that never bothers them are shut off from feeling anything.

I have learned in each experience, to allow those moments of hurt to drive me deeper into what the Father says about me. It’s in these testing moments that I can choose to develop a new response. I can allow those moments to collapse my heart or grow me. The choice is mine. I’ve slowly learned to refocus my attention on what God says about me.

Don’t Be Foolish

Now I must say this: many people hear about letting go of what people think and they apply it foolishly. They push away from healthy council or see those who are trying to help as “haters.” Losing the care of what people think is not a license to live in rebellious foolishness.  Freedom is not found in that motive.

So how do we begin walking free?

1. Recognize the lack of affirmation you did not receive growing up.

Without a strong compass of a father’s affirmation and love, you will be setup to listen to what the world says about you with high attention. For many of us, we entered the world with a vulnerability to what other people think because our father’s never told us. When a father does not establish affirmation and validation, your internal compass is off. You’ll end up wasting a lot of time and energy spinning on what others think.

Freedom often starts with just recognizing the problem.

Your hypersensitive radar for what people think will come out of not being validated, affirmed and established in love. You may have grown up with a mother who always gave you a look of disapproval, so your compass for nurture was thrown off. You feel emotionally double minded to the point that the loudest negative voice owns your attention.

2. Discover what it means to receive God’s affirmation and validation.

Recognizing what you lacked, needs to lead you to Father God through Jesus Christ. The affirmation and validation Jesus received from the Father needs to be your model. You cannot walk into your world without a new narrative of what God says about you.

Most people start their day with little investment into listening to what God says. As soon as you go to work or interact with people, your radar is looking for their validation.

Only the Father can give you what you need. I encourage you develop a new daily habit of rehearsing what God says about you.

3. Recognize where rejection has stolen a valid need and made it an idol.

In my book, Exposing the Rejection Mindset, I share about how caring about what people think can lead to a danger of idolatry. What the person thinks becomes our god and sole motivator. We can’t hear from God because we are stuck on what a person thinks.

These idols prevent us from moving forward. So in the healing process, we need to let go of the idols we carry–people who become our lord, instead of Jesus being Lord.

Take a moment and think about the people whose opinion you listen to the most in a dysfunctional way. They often mirror the voice of the parent whose love you longed for the most.

God needs to heal that place, but the idolatry that has formed needs to be removed. Once the idolatry is dealt with, you can see more clearly. You may need to forgive the parent who did not meet your need. Get them off the pedestal that only God can stand on.

4. Develop a new posture in relationship.

When we walk into a more healed direction, we change our compass. True north becomes what God says. Everything in life flows out of that. When you move into a healthier lifestyle, you realize that what other people think about you is actually none of your business. It’s a waste of time and energy.

In fact, you cannot love people powerfully if you are spending so much time evaluating how they feel about you. Go into relationships with a heart to love people, without a demand to get something back from them. You cannot love them effectively if we are looking to them as our source of love.

Let God be your source today.

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