We’re living in an attention-based world.
More and more people want to be seen, and will go to great lengths to make it happen. Anyone can share an opinion, positive or negative or neutral, about anything they see. Opinion-spewing is more of a business today than it’s ever been at any time in history. And we each have the tools to make it happen at our fingertips.
The glow of attention is like the warm summer sun shining on you. Every human being has a need for significance, and it feels good to recognized and paid attention to. But, what do you do when that attention isn’t so positive, or you’re personally a bit self-conscious about what people may be thinking or saying about you?
While there are times in life where it does make sense to know and care what others think of you — a job interview or a date, for example — this article is about the times when you don’t need to care about others’ thoughts, the times that many of us mistakenly care too much about the opinions of other people.
Times such as:
- When we’re performing. The last thing you need to be doing during any performance is thinking — about anything, let alone about what someone else is thinking.
- How you’ve chosen to live your life. This life thing, we each get one and only one. While not everyone will agree with yours, that’s OK — it’s yours.
- All other random anxieties you have about how you’re being looked at and judged. Most of the time, people aren’t thinking of you at all, and the times they actually are are not nearly as often as you think they are.
Here are the 3 steps to developing total disregard for what others might be thinking about you.
Boldness is outer-directed
Self-consciousness is a feeling of us literally thinking too much of ourselves. Confidence is an inner feeling of knowing that we ourselves are fine and taken care of, which allows us to focus our consciousness outward onto others. And as they say, the key to being interesting is to be interested.
You can’t be interested in others if all your conscious powers are focused on yourself. Be confident in your thoughts, decisions and actions so you don’t need to worry about you and how you’re being perceived. Then you can focus outward, giving others the attention they so desperately want.
They’re watching? They SHOULD be
Sometimes we grow self-conscious only when we feel we’re being watched. This is how some athletes succumb to performance anxiety, and why some people sweat and stammer when speaking to a room of people. You’re not normally self-conscious or worried about opinions, but when you know people are watching and probably forming opinions, it’s hard to not notice it.
I’m not for the option of locking yourself in the house and never exposing yourself to a public audience again, so here’s a new way of looking at things.
They’re supposed to be watching you.
You did the work.
You earned your spot.
You have the goods: a skill to display. A message to share. A product of service to tell about.
There are plenty of good reasons for people to be watching you, and that’s why they are. Their attention is what you want, it’s what you’ve earned. Bask in it and give them what they need to see or hear.
You’re not here to be approved of
The only reason we become overly concerned with the opinions of other people is because we secretly want their approval, and fear that we may not have it right now.
Eliminate that fear by understanding that you’re not here for approval.
Not everyone will see things your way. Some people will be opposed to you just to be opposed; they won’t even have a good reason. That’s life; we’re all different. Your focus needs to be on serving the people who’ve self-selected as your audience, not on winning over those who don’t agree.
Taking other people’s opinions into account can help in many ways in many places in life. My observation, though, is that we do this way too often and for too long, and it infects areas of our lives where we need to be focusing on ourselves and what we think of us. Use these techniques Mental Game techniques as your invisible shield against external judgements, both real and imagined.