I was talking with a girlfriend the other day and she told me how she was waiting in line at the grocery store and started eavesdropping on a conversation two women were having in front of her. One of the women said, “Now that I am in my 40’s I really don’t care what other people think of me.” The other woman then said, “Oh yes, I agree, but just wait until you are in your 50’s – it gets even better. I really don’t care what people think of me anymore.” 

My girlfriend said she wanted to jump in the conversation and ask the women, “How do you get there? I am in my 50’s and I still care what others think about me. What am I doing wrong? Can you share your secrets?”

It got me thinking. I hear this a lot – that as you age, you care less and less about what people think of you. I can definitely relate – but not 100%. I can still catch myself caring about what others think.

But why? When I really thought about it, I find it happens more with the people I am closest to. I thought it was interesting, but it makes sense that I would care more about what the people closest to me thought of me than people I do not know.

Of course, I had to dig into why this happens. Here are my thoughts:

  • It’s normal to care what the people closest to you think about you. As long as it does not hold more importance than how you think and feel about yourself. It makes me think of something I heard Brené Brown talk about. She keeps a small note in her purse with a list of the top 3 people in her life – that she does care what they think about her. It helps her when she finds herself being too critical of herself. She pulls out the note and asks herself what the people on her list would think and tunes out everyone else’s opinion. She knows the people on her list know her and love her unconditionally.
  • It has to do with how much you love yourself. Typically as we age, we hopefully learn to love ourselves more and more. So it makes sense that if as we age, we also love ourselves more – we will also care less and less about what other people think of us.

Where do you fall on the spectrum of caring what others think? Do you care too much or do you not care at all? Maybe you fall somewhere in between? Now ask yourself where you fall on the spectrum of loving yourself.

However, at the end of the day – nobody is thinking about you, as much as you think. Because we mostly think about ourselves. Studies show that we consistently overestimate how much people think about us and our failings.

Care about what other people think, and you will always be their prisoner.” ~Lao Tzu