I like to walk down the street flailing my arms and making weird noises. Not all the time. But every now and then when I’m feeling wacky.
Because it’s a great way to immunize yourself to the reactions of other people.
Unfortunately though, most people aren’t like me. Most people live in fear of the judgement of other people.
And that’s understandable. Historically speaking, calling attention to yourself in a bad way is a good way to get outcasted from the tribe. This fear of being outcasted is hardwired into our DNA. No one wants to be the outcast.
So in reality – We don’t walk around being goofy or silly or laughing because we’re worried of how people will react to us.
We’re worried that somebody’s going to think we’re strange. Or say something to hurtful to us. Or that we’re going to draw unwanted attention.
Now think about this – You’re making a decision about how to act and what to do based on the opinion of somebody you’ve never met and are never going to meet.
We limit ourselves from expression because we’re worried that our happiness might bother someone else.
And that’s completely valid. We don’t want our experience to bother someone else or fuck up their day.
But at the same time, we don’t want to place false limits on our own experience. We don’t want to hold ourselves back from creating the optimal experience.
If you care too much about the opinion of others, it affects how you make decisions, interact with people, and build relationships.
It’s a life of making decisions based on the anticipated reactions of other people. A life based on “them” instead of “me”. It’s a life of being focused externally rather than internally.
Instead of doing what is best for you, you do what you think will be best for you based on your anticipated reactions from people.
For example, many of us choose a school or profession because we think other people will “respect” or “support” our decisions.
Or we stay in a toxic relationship because we worry about how our partner will react. Or how our friends and family might react to the decision.
Or we do things to try and please our parents in hopes they will give us the validation and approval we so crave.
Either way, in all of these situations we make decisions rooted in how we think others will react, instead of putting our own opinion first.
This is dangerous because if we don’t have the approval/validation/agreement from friends and family, it can cause decision paralysis and indecision. We won’t be able to make the best decision for us. We RELY on their approval to make our decisions.
This is dangerous because we repress and suppress our own feelings and emotions. We don’t act in our own best interests.
Yes – we want to value the opinions of other people. We want friends and family to support our decisions. We don’t want people to think we’re crazy.
But if we have a feeling inside of us that overwhelms their opinions, it’s important we’re connected with this as well. Like all things, it’s a balance.
It’s great when those two feelings are in harmony, but sometimes your internal resolve needs to win and can’t be suppressed.
The first step to caring less about the opinions of other people is to become aware of how the opinions of other people are influencing your decisions. Analyze where you are seeking validation or approval or support instead of trusting in yourself. To become aware of your internal ability to control how you decide instead of being on auto-pilot.
Next up – Although I can try to put out a good vibe for others, I can’t control how you are going to react to me.
There are going to be times when people don’t like you. There are going to be times when people misunderstand you. Are flat out annoyed by you. You might even piss people off!!
It’s inevitable. Let me remind you…no one has ever been loved by everyone. Not even GOD. Not Jesus, not Buddha, not even Fonzie.
You’re not any different.
It’s impossible to vibe with everyone.
We can’t accurately predict the behavior of others, so we can’t make our decisions based on their anticipated reactions. We can only control our own behavior, so we must make decisions from our own sense of intrinsic right vs. wrong.
That’s why I’m such a big believer in getting weird/crazy/silly/goofy. I believe it’s the key to giving less fucks in life.
When we get weird/crazy/goofy/silly in front of other people and decide that we don’t care how other people will react, we’re putting ourselves first. Operating from a place of internal decision making and choice. Practicing immunizing ourselves to the opinions of others.
When we step outside of our comfort zones and expose ourselves to the opinions of other people, it flips the spotlight onto ourselves. It puts our vulnerabilities, flaws, weaknesses, insecurities are on display for the world to see.
This is an important step on the path of desensitizing yourself to the opinions of others – To embrace vulnerability and open yourself up to be hated.
Lastly, I believe that in order to immunize yourself to the opinions of others, you need to practice it. It’s a skill that needs to be cultivated.
If you’ve never felt the fear of being self conscious, how are you going to react to it in when it happens? You will most likely freeze up. Go into default reaction/response mode.
But then over time, through practice, you can determine what your natural reaction is, you can work to change it. If you want to learn to overcome it, you need to practice it.
You can start out in small ways by doing things like public speaking. Approaching strangers on the street. Cold calling people.
Over time you can up the intensity. As you practice getting outside of your comfort zone, you’ll get more comfortable.
Here are some of my favorite ways to try:
- Yell strange noises in a crowded restaurant
- Wear crazy clothes when you leave the house
- Dance and sing while walking down the street
- Introduce yourself to everyone in a crowded elevator
- Walk in a funky way in a crowded place
Either way the trick here is to do things that you think will get a reaction out of people, and learn how to feel your response to their reaction, and then make that feeling of not reacting to their reaction normal.
I believe that we can teach ourselves how to become desensitized to the opinions of other people. We can learn how to be less self conscious by practicing and implementing some new weird habits.
Then over time, we can ripple this out to other areas of our lives. When we have tough decisions to make, we can make them internally rather than externally. We can take in the input of others, but make those decisions from a sense of having an internal compass.
Like all things, not caring about the opinions of others is a skill that needs to be cultivated. The only way to learn it is to do things that will get people to voice their opinions to you.
So get out there and practice not giving a fuck about the opinions of other people. Do what is best for you. Dance. Sing. Yell. Let it all out like no one is watching because – who gives a shit if someone is 😉
I wish you the best of luck in your journey of making controversial decisions and following your heart!