Why other people’s opinions don’t matter – part 2

In Part 1 I talked about the Mammoth, an expression coined by Tim Urban that describes a primitive passenger of sorts that the entire human species carries around.   Our mammoth has an irrational obsession with only one thing, and that’s what other people think about us.

If you spend your life paying heed to other people’s thoughts and opinions at the expense of your own authentic self, it’s a sure-fire path to a life of extreme highs and lows.  Each time you feel accepted or put on a pedestal by others, you’ll be on cloud nine, and when those same people disapprove of you or your actions, misery and anger ensues. 

Tuning in to your authentic self is tapping into your true feelings, your desires, your wants:  

  • It’s listening to what makes sense to you based on facts, rather than other peoples opinions.  
  • It’s being with people whose company you enjoy, rather than those that other people think are cool.  
  • It’s rejecting the status quo if you don’t agree with it, and searching for your own path.

I’m not suggesting that you become a self-important jerk, or discount other people’s opinions or expertise entirely, but consider that tuning out the mammoth, and tuning in to your authentic self is a path to fulfilment that a lot of people in today’s society don’t even realise is available.  

Here are some ways and reasons to stop caring about what other people think:

  • Put your phone down. Apart from killing your productivity, the constant barrage of data consisting of likes, comments and advertising messages about who’s cool, what’s cool, and whether you are cool is feeding the mammoth.  A 2015 Gallup survey showed that almost half of smartphone owners check their  phones a few times an hour.  Is that really necessary?
  • Take up meditating.  This can be a profound way to get in touch with your authentic self.  If you are looking for a way to learn, I highly recommend the Waking Up app.
  • If meditating sounds too challenging right now, then try just taking a pause. Spare a moment to reflect before you react.
  • Consider that nothing you are socially scared of is actually going to harm you.  Standing up for yourself and trusting your own instincts and authentic self will bring about positive changes in your life.  It might also mean that you will need to discard some relationships that don’t work.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be bold, and be yourself.  If you are concerned that being yourself may mean that you lose some of your friends, then take comfort in the fact that people are drawn to those who live life authentically.  

There is something admirable about the person who listens to their own inner guidance system and less to the whims and wishes of the outside world.  Be that person and without even trying, you’ll encourage others to come along too.