I love this Wayne Dryer quote, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” When we stop worrying about how we may be judged, our behavior changes. We follow our path and are not driven by what others think. Adopting this attitude is a gateway to great personal freedom.
When we are young, we rely on feedback from our parents, family, teachers, and peers to know what is acceptable and what is not. What other people think is a necessary component in forming our belief systems (see Formation of Belief Systems). However, as we mature, concern about what others think can become a burden. We adopt the belief we need to be successful as defined by our culture, included, and productive. Our lives are molded to conform, and we forget to dream.
Concern about what other people think of me caused me to be of great service to others, but restricted my freedom. To release myself from the confines of being driven by what other people think, I have to monitor my choices and ask myself, If no one was watching, how would I behave?
Ignoring the voice in my head that wants me to worry about what someone else thinks of me is a challenge. The behavior is deeply engrained and I’m very practiced at it. After all, it’s a little arrogant of me to think I could know what someone else is thinking, or that they would even be thinking about me at all.