How do I stop caring what others think?

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This topic contains 199 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 weeks, 1 day ago.

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    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome and thank you for your kind words. You brought up a few topics in your recent post. I will respond to only one in this post. After we adequately discuss this one, you are welcome to point me to the next topic for which you would like my input.

    You seem to be clear about the man in the dormitories, and I am glad that you are. You are not  so clear about K, and I am okay with discussing him more because we didn’t discuss everything regarding K.

    You wrote about him before, how great he is to his family. In your recent post, you wrote: “in my heart I felt that he was a good person. He loves his family and I admired him for being so hardworking. He told me about always helping others”.


    1. “He loved his family”- how did he love you?

    2. “being so hardworking”- what hard work did he do.. for you?

    3. “He told me about helping others”- how did he help you?

    (If you choose to answer these, do so at your convenience, when you have the time and the state of mind to do so).




    Dear anita,

    thank you for your questions.

    1. There are some small things: he told me he loved me. He stopped during sex when I asked him. When he slept at my place, he held me very tight all night. He took my hands, told me about his future plans. He called me when he moved, told me that I was a good person.

    But then, he also didn’t have much time for me, never any time on the weekends. It always felt like he was only spending time with me, when he had nothing better to do? For example, he wanted to go out with his friends and then come to me at 2 am. But I am usually not awake at that time and declined. Then I even felt guilty about that. Now I think his offer was inconsiderate? Or at least that it was completely o.K. for me to decline that offer.

    Overall, I felt like I should be available whenever he wants it, but also doesn’t take some time for me. And he talked on the phone often while we met. During the phone call I confronted him that he always talked on the phone. But he said it’s unfair for me to bring that up now. I apologized and then said that I should have said something. Which is true.

    Then I start to worry about my own behaviour and if I worked hard enough. I question myself if I was too clingy and at the same time not good with communication? Maybe when he always wrote “how are you” in the facebook chat, he only wanted to chat when we were both online. But I often write longer messages when a friend is not online. And I was also kind of afraid of chatting in real time or phone calls, because I just didn’t feel so comfortable with him yet and like I could be myself. I had this strong feeling that I am not good enough and very weird.

    But he also never said something, and I also didn’t say something, because I was too afraid. And when I called him to ask him about that, he immediately said he wants to break up. He said on the phone that he doesn’t want to hurt me anymore, that he never wanted to hurt anyone. And he sounded very desperate and like he was crying? I never understood what happened there, my intentions were only to clear things up. But maybe I also used the wrong words. I said: “Don’t you find it weird that we never communicate so much?”, something like that. But he just immediately got upset.

    This kind of communication just drove me crazy… He never said what was going on, or what he didn’t like about my behaviour. He said “I have problems, but I can only tell you later”, then never explained further. Or didn’t answer for days, then said that he was sick. Later he explained, he didn’t want to tell me about his problems, because he didn’t want to lose me. Maybe we were just not right for each other, two bad communicators…

    It also seemed like we couldn’t really talk about things. When I wanted to talk about something, explain something, he never said much to it, only things like “it’s o.K., don’t worry”. But maybe I am the problem there too, because I always need reassurance from others, when I should be sure within myself. Maybe I am just too difficult, with all my worries… I can imagine that it is not very easy for others to communicate with me.

    2. When it comes to hard work he did for me, I mentioned most above. That he seldomly had time for me and also didn’t take the time to explain what was going on. I don’t have the feeling like he put much effort into building our relationship? But on the other hand, he once said that he wants to go to a cafe or cook traditional food for me, but I was the one who backed off or shyed away., as I was anxious. I know that I am a not so easy person to deal with. I would have needed much time to get to know him and feel comfortable with him. But I rushed it myself. I liked him so much that I tried to overcome my own fears and called him by myself and did things that I would normally not do. Sadly, I only ended up overstepping my own boundaries.

    Also, he tired harder, after I said to him that I want to go no contact. He called me, wanted to talk to me. He then tried to call more often. He asked me to paint a picture of him… I guess he tried to make it better. But I just had lost my trust in him. And he wanted everything to go according to his conditions: we wanted to meet to talk about everything. But then he suddenly said he couldn’t come, because of his work (something about his keys, he had to give them back on that day). When I offered to come to his city, he didn’t want that, as he wanted me to wait quietly at home. Also he said something about him wanting to go swimming because of his back problems. But at the same time it seemed like he was able to come to me, if I let him spend the night at my place??? It seemed very strange to me and I trusted him even less. Then I sent him the message that I cannot do it.

    The last time I met him was in April. We went for a walk. The next day I told him on the phone that I couldn’t do it. I knew you would be upset and never told you about this. Since then we have no contact, and I will leave him alone! It was my mistake to meet him again, but I have learned my lesson. But I still feel guilty that I did this, that I went back and forth like that with him.

    3. I don’t think he helped me much? My state got much worse when I was with him. But I know that the problems come from inside me, my insecurities and all that. But at the same time, I don’t think he made much of an effort to understand me? I know I tried to understand him, but it was of no use.

    It was all a big mess. Somehow I have to forgive myself. I know I did the best I could with my knowledge at the time. There were no bad intentions from me. But clearly I did not handle the situation well. Best to not date at the moment I think.

    I want to learn how to overcome my feelings of shame and guilt instead. And learn to respect myself more. I was not connected to my own feelings at all, so worried to please another person. I don’t want that for myself anymore! I don’t want to be so dependent on another person’s approval anymore. I want to learn to find calm within myself.




    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome. Your answers to my questions about how he loved you, what work did he do for you and in what ways he helped you are:

    – he spoke (or typed) to you, saying  I-love-you, telling you that you are a good person, telling you about his future plans. And he very often talked on the phone with other people while being with you; when you expressed to him that it bothers you, he dismissed you. You messaged him at times and he didn’t answer you for days, and didn’t explain to you why. When you told him at one point that you are upset that he doesn’t contact  you or answer your messages and therefore you want no  contact, he then called you more often. At one time he told you that he wants to go to a café with you or cook food for you (but didn’t).

    – he held you tight all night when he slept with you at your place, in your bed. At other times, he held your hand. He didn’t have any time for you on weekends, and one time he suggested to come to your place at 2am to spend the night after he concluded a night out, not with you, but with his friends. When you offered him to visit him in his city, he told you that he doesn’t want you to. When you asked him to stop during sex, he stopped.

    My input: he is definitely better than a rapist (man in the dormitory) for stopping the sexual act when you asked him to stop. On the other hand, if I understand and remember correctly, he never took you on a date. He never had you visit him where he lives, refusing your suggestion to visit him. The only time he spent with you was overnight in your place, sleeping in your bed, having some kind of sex with you every time. Other than that, he spent very little time with you online, on the phone and in person. And during the little time he did spend with you in your place, overnight, he spend much of that time talking on the phone with other people. And one time he offered to spend overnight with you after going out with.. other people.

    Here is #1 lesson: do not spend overnight with a man you haven’t yet gone on a date with, and/ or a man who doesn’t regularly call you or one who doesn’t answer your messages for  days. Doesn’t matter why there were no dates, and why he doesn’t answer you (doesn’t matter if you think it is somehow your fault), as long as this is the case- no overnight stays, no sex.

    Regarding him telling you about his future plans, holding your hand at times and holding you tight at night- I am sure it felt nice. But notice this (my purpose is not to cause you to feel badly about the following, but to consider reality, and over time, seeing reality as is makes us feel and function better): some men who go to prostitutes, do  so not to have sex, but to talk about themselves. They pay the prostitute just for that. Some men will pay a prostitute just so to hold her tight. And yet, after telling her about their lives, most intimate things, and holding her tight, they pay her and go about their lives, knowing that the prostitute they just paid, has other customers that will be there for sex.

    You wrote: “But maybe I am the problem there too, because I always need reassurance from others.. Maybe I am just too difficult, with all my worries… I know that I am not so easy person to deal  with”- I agree. But it doesn’t change the fact that this man, K, was not a good, decent man. Because you are indeed difficult, it doesn’t mean that everyone else are easy and good. Try to separate the two items here: you and the other person, particularly, the man. Back to lesson 1: don’t have sex with a man before he takes you on a few dates and before you wait a few weeks to see if he contacts you regularly, and you will easily avoid this way having sex with a man who is not good and decent.

    Regarding you being difficult, it is not that you are a bad communicator that makes you difficult in my experience. What makes you difficult to endure is that you feel guilty for everything! That is crazy making for me, at times, it is like witnessing a person with a whip, repeatedly whipping themselves and drawing blood, figuratively speaking. It is not fun!

    But I am okay with continuing to communicate with you because you have been getting better, gradually,  for a long time by this point and it  is encouraging to witness that.




    Dear anita,

    I quickly wanted to clear two things up. Maybe I didn’t explain correctly. It’s not true that I never visited him at his place. He also invited me to his room in the other dormitory and I once visited him after he moved. I think I wrote about it? It didn’t go so well. Firstly, I had thought that I was going to visit him one weekend. But he offered me to visit him on a weekday. Of course I didn’t have that much time, so I only came there for one afternoon and left on the next morning.

    What I wrote about above, was when we wanted to talk about everything after our breakup. There he wanted to visit me, but then canceled due to some work issue. When I offered him to come to him, he declined that and his excuses seemed a little weird. Especially when he seemed to change his mind: he seemed to be able to visit me in case he could spend the night at my place. My take on it is: he wants to be the one in control of the situation. He also said to me “the woman should sit back and relax in a relationship”.

    And about dates, I don’t know if you could call it dates, we went for short walks. Once we went out to eat when he was in my city for one or two hours or so and had to go to the next place after that. It was just not very loving… Everything felt quick, in-between and loveless. I don’t want to experience anything like this again.

    Another thing: when we met the last time, he was sure to not use his phone while talking to me. So maybe he was trying to better himself, but my trust was just gone at that point.

    But there were too many strange things. I don’t know if I am too mistrustful, but it seemed to me like he wanted money? In any case, I know how the whole situation was making me feel terrible about myself. If in the future I get in a situation where I experience heart palpitations and sleepless nights and have the power to end it, I will end it. Or if the other person is making me feel bad about myself (worse than it is usual for me), I want to end it. No matter if the cause is me, the other person or both or just the situation.

    And clearly I don’t want to repeat such an experience. I do want to take my time. And if they don’t want to invest that time, they are not the right person. After the experience with the man in the dormitory, I was only confused. But also I had been confused before. But slowly I am beginning to see things clearer.

    I want to work towards being more accepting of myself in the near future. I want to overcome all the shame and guilt. This year the feelings increased with the situation with K and the dormitory. But I was also able to look with more compassion at myself and to recognize where the roots of my problems lie.

    Now I want to start fresh. Maybe I want to even do something symbolic, like take a bath on first of January in the ocean. Then I want to start living my life more consciously, not letting bad situations go on, listening to my feelings more, being more present and working towards my goals.

    I think that I actually have also a good side in me. But here I focused a lot on my problems. But I am also creative, and have passion. It makes me feel more connected to myself to experience things sensually. To go out into nature, smell the air after the rain, dip my feet into the river and walk barefoot. I want to focus more on these things to feel more alive.

    And it is also very important to free myself from the fear of judgement of others. Firstly, I need to notice these thoughts of mine. And when in doubt, I could also ask the other person about what is going on, so I can become calmer. At least I have become more aware of my tendencies and the way my mind works already.

    Anita, thank you for bearing with me. Not many people would have done it. But it has helped me to understand things.



    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome. I understand the corrections you made: you visited him once, a weekday, for one afternoon and left the next morning. When you offered him to visit you “to talk about everything after our breakup”, he suggested visiting you, then canceled, then you offered to visit him, he declined with an excuse (back pain, it was, right?) but then, he suggested to visit you (in spite of alleged back pain). And regarding dates, you went for short walks and once you ate out with him, and he left afterwards “to the next place”. Also, he didn’t use his phone the last time you met him.

    Having computed these corrections, my evaluation of him as an ass**** still stands, to put it bluntly.

    I like your goals for the near future, to replace all that unjustified shame and guilt with self compassion and I will be glad to support you with this goal in the context of this thread. I understand your desire “to start fresh” and your idea of taking a bath in the ocean Jan 1st of the new year, but having done similar rituals myself, having been determined multiple times in my life, to start fresh, I want to point  out to you that it is better that you expect very small progress Jan 1 and every day after, the same amount of progress you are making daily this December. We can’t erase our brains Dec 31 and take in a fresh new brain Jan 1.

    Renew your intent to replace your shame and guilt with self compassion, do so on Jan 1, and every morning after, maybe first thing every morning.

    “I think that I actually have also a good side in me”- I think so too. I am okay with you stating confidently: I have a good side to me! “I am also  creative, and have passion”- I like you stating this confidently!

    What you mentioned, “to  go out into nature, smell the air..”, as well as “notice these thoughts of  mine.. become more aware of my tendencies and the way my mind works”- these are all Mindfulness practices, which you have been doing a lot of, for a long time. But there is more, not only for you,  but for me as well: there is always more to  notice and more to experience. I am looking forward to reading more about your mindfulness practice this December and next year: every day counts!




    Dear anita,

    it was just that I thought, maybe the situation was difficult for him too. With living in different cities, different cultures and me being not easy to understand. But then again, he also lied and something was off.

    Now I think it’s time to move on. I will never really understand him, but I understand myself better now. And I don’t want something like this to happen anymore, where I rush and don’t listen to my own emotions.

    Most likely thoughts about him will still come up,but I want to try and not give them so much room anymore. Yesterday I also listened to a mindfulness meditations about thoughts, so I want to learn to control my thoughts more.

    Last year my feelings of shame increased so much and sadly spread to my former dormitory too. I was so obsessed with what other people thought of me. Well, sometimes I still worry that they got a wrong impression of me, but I also need to let this go. I want to learn to find peace within myself, so I don’t worry so much about the approval of others anymore.

    You are right that change doesn’t happen quickly. For example, last weekend, it was very mixed. One day I got lots of things done, the other day I was more unproductive. I don’t expect that everything will change after that one bath. If I do it, as it will be very cold… But it could just be a nice symbolic act and a way to feel more connected to myself and to nature.

    I am so happy that I have this connection with nature, it always has a calming effect on me. Today I also went for a walk and my mind felt refreshed after it. I need to do it more often and include it into my routine, even if the weather is not so appealing at the moment. I am thankful that this year I got to pick mushrooms and nettles, go for hikes and to the forest and ocean.

    You are right that I should repeat my goals from time to time, to remind myself. I also want to journal more. Gladly, this December I can work less hours, as I had collected a lot of hours in the past months. So it will a good time for me to reflect and work on myself.

    And I want to focus more on my good qualities from now on, because they are there. Sometimes I think I could even think an “awesome” person without all the self doubt…

    As for mindfulness practices, during the last days I journaled, cooked some fresh and tasty food for myself and went for a walk. Not everything everyday, but it is a start. Also, I tried to clear up a problem today, which did not work out, but at least I am a step further.



    Dear Lily:

    I like everything you wrote in your post of a few moments ago, you certainly have a good grasp on what healing means and what to expect.

    When I read: “I want to focus more on my good qualities from now on, because they are there”, it occurred to me that you can put together a list of a few positive affirmations regarding your good qualities, and repeat them to yourself while in a meditative state, while relaxed, taking in slow, deep breaths. If you want, you can come up with such a list here, and if you want my input on it, I will be glad to offer it to you.




    Happy New Year, Lily !




    Dear anita,

    thank you anita, I also wish you a happy new year!

    Sorry I didn’t reply earlier, but I wanted to write you soon.

    I was thinking about the affirmations… Maybe overthinking…

    My good qualities could be: I am creative, I have inner strength, I don’t give up, I am honest, I am passionate, I am empathetic, I have a lot of imagination, I want to be open minded, I can see and appreciate the little things in life, I want to be kind to people…

    I feel that I am only starting to get to know myself.

    As for the new year, yesterday and today I wrote down some goals for myself and also reflected on the past year. It started off not so good, but lately I have been feeling better. I have made improvements in some areas. Now I feel calmer and can see things more clearly.

    Thank you for your ongoing support through those hard times!


    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  Lily.


    Dear Lily:

    Thank you, and you are welcome. Yes, I do see these good qualities in you. Why not make a daily routine for yourself, pick a time or a couple of times when you repeat these to yourself when relaxed, maybe after a hot bath or a hot shower, and/ or before going to bed:

    1. I am creative.

    2. I have inner strength.

    3. I don’t give up.

    4. I am honest.

    5. I am passionate.

    6. I am empathetic.

    7. I have lots of imagination.

    (I listed the good qualities that you already are, not those starting with “I want to” in the future).

    I like your sentence: “I feel that I am only starting to get to know myself”. As you do get to know yourself more and more, you will see what a good person your are, and therefore you will treat yourself better and better, the way a good person deserves to be treated!




    Dear anita,

    when I read these affirmations, I feel these qualities are quite “cool” and I feel a little proud of myself.

    I want to learn to treat myself better and I think my interactions with others will improve as well then. Hopefully then I will be able to express better what I want and to not avoid conflicts anymore.

    For this year, I told myself that my theme would be “keep the promises you make to yourself”. Well, I have not succeeded very well so far… I still have a hard time managing my time when I have more free time. When I’m at work or uni, I can work for hours and concentrate well, but at home I struggle so much to get started and procrastinate…

    But I think I have some good ideas that are worthy of being worked on. I want to improve on this. Also, when I don’t get anything done it makes me feel so bad about myself.

    Next week there will be my normal work schedule, so I hope it will help to get back into better habits.

    For today, I want to at least sit down and work for half an hour, right now!



    Dear Lily:

    “When I’m at work or uni, I can work for hours and concentrate well, but at home I struggle so much to get started and procrastinate”- this is very, very common. I know a person who keeps his work area very organized, does not procrastinate at all when it comes to that, but at home, she doesn’t keep her stuff organized and procrastinate for months and months.

    The reason for that is that she is excited about organizing her work area but organizing her home area distresses her. We easily do what we feel motivated to do and we avoid tasks that distress us. Or it is a combination of task and location that distresses us.

    As you try to improve in the area of not procrastinating at home, aim at fewer objectives, form very humble expectations of what you intend to achieve at home, and be gentle and patient with yourself as you go about achieving an objective.




    Dear anita,

    you are right, it is better to make small steps. Often I want too much at once. Best to draw only a few minutes a day than do nothing at all.

    Usually, once I start, I can also work for hours at home. Once I got over the initial period of procrastination and undecidedness..

    Yesterday, I worked on an illustration. I was not completely satisfied with it, but maybe it is better to create something that is not perfect than creating nothing at all. But I don’t want to disappoint myself again. At least I want to be creative, no matter if the result is good or just mediocre.

    In the next decade, I want to take more action, instead of being fearful. Even if I would never be commercially successful as an illustrator, I want to express myself and find my voice using art.

    So far I did not believe in myself. Today I told my colleague about my dream of working as an illustrator, but he seemed sceptical. It felt disappointing, but of course I also haven’t believed in it myself. I want to show myself and others that I can do it, that I have a lot to share… I am no that “poor mouse” or “grey mouse”.

    I will work more on my illustration today. Plus, I wrote my friend, if she would like to meet up from time to time to discuss our progress with our goals. I think it will benefit both of us.

    Yesterday I also thought about what I am grateful for. My life is calmer now than one year ago. I get along well with my roommates and we shared our recipe for christmas cookies. When I came back from my holidays last Friday, my colleague hugged me. It was the colleague who used to make jokes about me! But now we get along better. I am proud of myself that I did not give up and that I improved my work performance. I also didn”t give up in class, when I had the feeling that my professor was irritated by me. I can feel now that he likes my drawings. I am also glad that I am cooking again as I had missed it when I stopped it during dormitory times… Last week I made a delicious fish soup and walnut bread. I know that I am good at a lot of things!

    Also I think that I am seeing things clearer than one year ago and getting to know myself better and what I want and don’t want. I never want to hide again like I did last year at the dormitory. I am not a bad thing that must be hidden.

    I made a self love playlist with songs that are inspiring. It has songs like “O.K” by Mabel or “Strength, Courage and Wisdom” by India.Arie. But at the moment, I feel most connected with the song “Take Me As I Am” by Mary J Blige.

    Well, I am clearly feeling slowly better. But last week I was still a little bit disappointed by my procrastination. But I guess it will take some time!

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 4 weeks ago by  Lily.


    Dear Lily:

    “maybe it is better to create something that is not perfect than creating nothing at all”- I agree. Expecting to produce something perfect and being anxious about it kills creativity.

    “In the next decade, I want to take more action”- excellent aim. “I want to express myself and find my voice using art”- this is what you want, your passion.

    “I am not that ‘poor mouse’ or ‘grey mouse'”- no you are not. You have too much passion for a mouse. You are persistent in your healing and that is very impressive. Mice can’t do what you are doing!

    Plus, mice hide, but you don’t: “I never want to hide again like I did last year at the dormitory. I am not a bad thing that must be hidden”!!!

    Good to read: “My life is calmer now than one year ago. I get along with my roommates.. my colleagues hugged me.. we get along professor.. likes my drawings”, and very good to read: “I am proud of myself that I did not give up and that I improved my work performance.. didn’t give up in class.. cooking again.. seeing things clearer than one year ago and getting to know myself better and what I want and don’t want.”- I am proud of you too, for all these things!

    Fish soup and walnut bread read delicious. I imagine you would enjoy eating it to the sounds of that self love playlist that you put together,  with songs that are inspiring, such as “Take Me As I Am”, take yourself, or accept yourself just as you are, Lily!




    Ok let me help you here…to seclude yourself is losing battle! Believe me, it will be 10x harder for you once you start shutting everyone else out! The biggest thing you could to is ask for help! So many people don’t and that’s a mistake right there. That is 100% anxiety you suffer from and it needs to be dealt with. There is lots of good books on anxiety and coping skills. It’s ok not to be liked by everyone, in fact you are searching for non-existing thing if that’s what you expect. Nobody is perfect and guess what…many people that have smile on their face are simply good at hiding their worries and unhappiness. Nobody said you need 347 friends in life. I’m in my late 30s and I can count my friends on one hand!

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