Why Do We Worry About What Others Think?


I had dinner with a friend recently. And she shared an analogy about worrying with me.

“Imagine your worries were similar to holding a filled cup with two hands, and you wanted to reach out for something else. How would you do that as you are fully occupied?”

And, just yesterday, I caught up with another friend of mine, and he shared with me about his worries and thoughts.

That got me thinking if we are constantly consumed with our worries, how would we find the time to look for a solution or an action to take?

Perhaps the greatest mystery and obstacle to our self-acceptance, the concept of worrying seems to have been ingrained in us ever since the beginning of human beings.

Our ancestors consisted existed approximately hundred of thousands of years ago and lived alongside ferocious predators such as sabre-toothed tigers. It was crucial to be accepted into a group to increase the chances of survival. Being rejected by a group was a powerful influence that could result in a life or death situation. 

Fast forward to our modern-day technological era, where humans are the biggest threat to our species, our fear of not being accepted remains. This tends to results in over excessive worrying about what others think about us. 

Being social creatures, we tend to depend on the quality of relationships with others as a measurement of our happiness. Thus, there is a good reason to worry about what others think about us.

We attempt to seek approval from others, to control outcomes which are beyond our control. We might also become too outside focused and neglect our internal self.

However, we often worry too much and overestimate how badly others think about us. Have you ever had an embarrassing blunder? If so, you might feel that the image you curated to others has been severely tarnished in the eyes of others.

How To Handle Worry

Although a little worry and fear can, at times, be beneficial and serves as an internal form of motivation, overly worrying does the opposite. The first step often includes an acknowledgement that you are worrying. 

5/5/5 Rule

After acknowledging the fact that you are worrying, use the 5/5/5 rule. The 5/5/5 rules consist of asking yourself questions such as Problem _, which I am worrying, would it matter in 5 minutes, days, months or years? If you’d like you can even write this down on a piece of paper and reason it out with yourself.

You might realise that most of the problems are menial or might not even occur. In which, you could save precious time working on a solution or doing something else.

Reasoning With Yourself

The next time you find yourself stuck in a loop of infinite worries, ask yourself a simple question: Is problem _ worth worrying about? We often worry about things that wouldn’t even matter that much to us in the end.

For example, essential things to worry about:

  • Am I making the right life decision by marrying my partner?

Not important things to worry about:

  • Why didn’t so and so compliment me at the bar?

“We can’t control what others say or do, but we can control how we react.”

In the end, everyone deserves to live a life which is as close to their authentic self and overly seeking the approval of others is a sign that you haven’t leant to love yourself. You deserve to have people that love you for who you are, instead of who your mind has created to be. After all, life is meant to be lived and not worried about.

So, what are you waiting or worrying about?

You don’t need anyone’s approval apart from yourself to be amazing. 





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