Do you struggle with worrying about what people think about you? We are a society that is mightily influenced by the words of others. All too often, we take what others say to heart when we don’t need to.
Although everyone is entitled to an opinion, that doesn’t mean people should state their opinions unsolicited.
If you are someone who thinks you need to ask friends and family for their opinions before you can do anything, you will benefit from Jay Shetty’s advice on how to stop putting so much weight on other people’s views.
“It's less about not listening to other people's opinions and more about not feeling the pressure to live up to them,” explains Jay Shetty. “We've created a very blurred line between listening and living up to when we hear something, especially if it's fear-based, pressure-based, or stress-based.”
In this article, Jay Shetty unpacks six ways you can stop listening to other people’s opinions and move forward with confidence in your own decisions.
You Don’t Have to Live Up to Others’ Opinions
Not caring so much about other people’s opinions is a skill we hone over time. Jay Shetty recalls when he decided to disconnect from other people’s opinions.
One day, a younger Jay Shetty was sitting in class struggling with a math question. His math teacher, seeing his dilemma, said something to him that helped him let go of what others wanted and start to focus on what he wanted.
“I remember my teacher told me the reason why I was struggling with this question was I was thinking about what my parents were going to say,” Shetty explains. “The reason I was struggling with the problem was my mind was not present. It was focused on what my parents were going to say.”
Jay Shetty realized at that age that he had to let go of worrying about what others would think. Instead, he decided to focus on select subjects that he was passionate about. He told his parents that he wanted to focus on art and design. Over time, design, philosophy, English, and economics became his learning focus.
At what age did the opinions of others start to affect you less? The sooner you realize you need to disconnect from others’ opinions, the sooner you can build confidence in making your own decisions without pressure.
As Shetty’s love for learning increased, so did his curiosity. You may have heard the popular saying that smart people have all the answers, but true intelligence is asking the right questions.
A close relationship with his art teacher taught Shetty how to think, not what to think. Whenever he would draw a line or use a color, his art teacher would ask him why he did that.
“I didn't realize what he was teaching me at the time,” explains Jay Shetty. “But his simple suggestion and prompting to constantly ask me why, made me dig and search for deeper meaning, connections, and deeper sincerity. Simply asking why completely transformed the way my mind works.”
Not sure how to use questions to help you disconnect from others’ opinions? Jay Shetty says the next time you don't feel competent or decide to listen to everyone else's opinions, ask more questions instead. This will help you be more curious and make decisions for yourself.
Consider the Source
We all ask others for advice because it is human nature to be curious about how others would handle a situation. Keep in mind that unless the person you are asking is a professional, the answer they give you will be based on their own perception or experience. The answer will not necessarily have anything to do with you.
“When you ask for some advice, you have to recognize that it is impure,” shares Jay Shetty. “It is affected by the biases we all have. So when you ask someone for their opinion, you have to recognize where it's coming from.”
Stop Looking for Advice from Everyone
When you take into account that people’s opinions come from their own experiences, realize that you’re likely to get multiple different answers. This can be confusing and stressful when trying to decide how you want to handle something.
Instead of asking everyone, Jay Shetty suggests finding someone you can rely on for different situations and go to that particular person for advice in that area. Stop blurting out your challenges to any and everyone.
Four Characteristics to Look for When Seeking Advice
When you are trying to decide who to go to for advice, there are four characteristics you should look for:
- Competence. Does this person have expertise or competence in the area you seek an opinion in?
- Care. Does this person care about you? Look for someone who is willing to give an opinion based on love and care for how their answer will affect you. Sometimes it is just nice to seek the opinion of someone you feel loved by.
- Consistency. Is the person a constant in your life? Do they understand the ins and outs of the situation you’re dealing with? Someone who provides a constant connection gives you reassurance and stability.
- Character. Does the person possess a strong moral compass and uncompromised values? Are they suitable to go to for advice when you aren’t clear on your beliefs or need moral or ethical guidance?
Carefully curate the group of people that you want to surround yourself with. And remember, it’s very unlikely someone will fulfill all four qualities. You may need to choose a person for each area.
“The truth is that no one person will be all those things,” Jay Shetty explains. “Someone may have competence, but they won’t be caring. Someone will be caring but they won't have character. Someone will have character but they won't have consistency. We can't expect one person to have it all.”
Others’ Opinions Are Not Your Reality
The opinions and thoughts of others are not your reality unless you allow them to be.
If someone thinks you are weak, useless, untalented, or unintelligent, their thoughts do not make those opinions true. If you begin to internalize those thoughts, they will start to affect you.
There's a beautiful quote from Gandhi that says, “I would never let someone with their dirty shoes walk through my mind.” Jay Shetty explains that someone with dirty shoes outside of your home can not affect you. It will affect you, however, once you open the door and let them in.
Have you ever been in a conversation with an individual who gave you their opinion of someone you both know? Was that opinion good or bad? Did it sway your opinion of that person?
We live in a world full of people who are worried about other people’s opinions; where we worry about what others think and say about us. That kind of constant worry creates a negative thought pattern. We compress all those opinions and internalize them to the point that it becomes part of our DNA.
Save yourself the trouble next time you hear an ill opinion about yourself. Don’t take it to heart. Just because someone else thinks it doesn’t mean it is your reality.
Trust Your Intuition
Our whole lives we've been programmed to ask for others’ opinions.
How do you think I look in this?
What do you think I should do?
What do you think we should eat?
We're constantly trying to outsource our decision-making. While it is okay to ask for an opinion about some of the more minor decisions in life, you need to rely on yourself and your intuition for making more significant decisions. To do that, you need to start making some daily choices on your own.
“Start focusing on the small things,” Jay Shetty explains. “Decide what you’re going to eat tonight. Decide where you're going to wear this weekend. I know it sounds so basic, but we have outsourced these decisions to our parents, our friends, our families, and our partners, since we were young.”
This small exercise is a big step towards helping you build confidence in making big life decisions yourself.
No one but you has to live with the consequences of your choices. When you consider other people’s advice, remember that their advice is given free of consequences to themselves. When you make decisions on your own, you know the decisions are made considering all angles.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “6 Ways to Stop Listening to Other People's Opinions” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.