I’m always worried about what other people think of me. I would like your advice on how to stop myself from seeking the validation of others.
I have read many articles about not caring what others think, but it has not really helped much. Sometimes I do things that I truly believe are right and best for me, but my close friends or family members strongly disagree and they let me know it (in a harsh manner).
I feel anxious about it even though I know the only opinion that matters is my own. How do I stop my thoughts from constantly being worried about what my friends think, even though I know that what I’m doing is right for me?
Thinking of Me
Dear Thinking of You,
Several months ago, a mother wrote in with a question of whether it was proper for her to stop her young son from associating with another boy who was always putting him down. My advice to her was that her son needs to be with friends who are going to make him feel good about himself.
Ditto for you. How?
Our Sages tell us “Aseh lecha rav u’koneh lecha chaver” (Pirke Avot 1:6). Find someone who is going to advise you and guide you. Someone you consider to be wise. Maybe even just street smart. Secondly, surround yourself with friends who enjoy being with you, those who share your interests, hobbies, and outlook.
Interestingly, the end of that particular Mishnah ends with the advice to judge all people favorably. The modern expression that everyone uses today, usually attributed to the Chafetz Hayim, is “If you have nothing good to say, say NOTHING.” Encourage your family and other nay-sayers to try to follow this important dictum.
Here are two other great, simple ways to feel better about yourself (even if you are spending a little too much time thinking about it). Number One – smile at others. It automatically lifts your spirits and creates an instant bond between people. Number Two – focus on things that you KNOW you do well (even to those who might think otherwise). Build little successes every day.
In the final analysis, you are not here on earth to impress others. And as Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, used to say, “What do you care what others think about you? Hashem knows how good or bad you are.” That’s all that matters.