Ever Worry About What People Think of You?

Worried What People ThinkI think that all of us, at one time or another, have worried about what people think of us (and will do again). In fact, I’d hazard a guess that quite a large proportion of people worry about that quite often. Given the headline of my post, maybe you can relate to this?

I must confess that as a teenager and a young man, I worried about this quite often but, fortunately, this is a feeling I experience very rarely these days.  However, a couple of recent conversations reminded me of how I stopped feeling this way and I thought I’d share that.

The other day, I was talking to a friend on Facebook and she remarked that her son had just told her that she was the head of the household. She commented that it was about time he realised this and that she should have made it clearer before, as if it was a new revelation that her son had just discovered (he is in his 20’s) and that she should have told him earlier.  (This is my perception of the conversation, of course, not necessarily what she meant, as I suspect she was just being a little flippant – but inspiration comes in many ways.)

I’ll tell you how I responded in a moment but the conversation reminded me of another one I had with a client just a few weeks earlier.

On that occasion, my client was displaying a lot of worry and anxiety about what people think of him and, in particular, that they may not perceive him as being credible (he’s just launched a very exciting new project and didn’t want to fall at that first hurdle).

My response on both these occasions was very similar and it stemmed from my first forays into the world of Personal Development back in the days when I was just 19 or 20 years of age.

Brian TracyAt that time, I’d discovered Brian Tracy and was listening to one of his audio programmes.  In it, he described an exercise which went as follows;

He asked us to imagine that we’d travelled forward in time to the day of our own funeral, so that we could witness what our loved ones, friends and colleagues we’re saying about us, both during the ceremony, and afterwards.  He asked that we imagined the wonderful ways that different people and loved ones remembered us.  He asked us to imagine all of the nice things that people were saying about us and he asked us to write all these thoughts down:  Which I, duly, did.

Then came the lesson. Brian explained that, if we want people to say wonderful things about us, to remember us in certain ways, then we would have to behave in that way first.  After all, if we didn’t, people wouldn’t remember us that way, would they?

The action step from that exercise was to keep the list and to undertake, from that day forward, to behave like the person that our loved ones, friends and colleagues described.  And we were to do so for the rest of our life.  He also suggested that we re-visit the exercise every 5 years or so, as we may wish to change some of the things on that list as time goes by and as we grow.

I’ve never forgotten that lesson and I can remember to this day how quickly those thoughts of worrying about what people thought of me dissipated – to the point that they’re almost non-existent, today.

Back to my friend on Facebook.  I responded that, if one acts as the head of the household, assumes the responsibility of the head of the household and never resorts to blaming others for any problems that affect the household (and, knowing her, I have no doubt that she did all of that) then there would be no need to mention it.  Everyone would just know.  No words would be necessary and there would be no need to worry about it.

Write Down Your ThoughtsTo my client I advised that he write a list that included;

  • Everything that he would expect a credible person in his profession to do.
  • The traits and characteristics that a credible person in his profession would demonstrate.
  • The knowledge and skills that he would expect a credible person in his profession to have and
  • The attitude, values and beliefs that a credible person in his profession would have.

I told him that once he had his list, he should simply;

  • Do what that credible person would do.
  • Adopt the traits and characteristics that a credible person would demonstrate.
  • Acquire any skills and knowledge that a credible person would have and
  • Adopt the attitude, values and beliefs of that credible person.

I reminded him that some of these things would already be in place, that some things may need a little work on and that others may need greater levels of development.  I also reminded him that we can never know all that there is to know, that life is a journey and that we should commit to being a life-long learner and continually strive to improve.

I told him that, if he carried out this exercise, three things would happen;

  1. He would be seen as highly credible in the eyes of others.
  2. That his worry as to whether people perceive him as being credible would disappear and
  3. That he would become one of the foremost authorities in his field (most people stop learning when they think they know enough to get by).

Now, I know that this technique may not apply to every situation but, if at some point today, you find yourself worrying about what people think of you, think about this technique.  If it does apply to your situation, simply describe the kind of person you would need to be to stop that happening (and write it down). Then undertake, from this day forward, to be the person you described and I guarantee that these worries will disappear.

Please share this with the people you care about because many of them will be experiencing these feelings at certain times or in connection with certain things.

Have a fantastic day,

Steve Bimpson


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