How do I stop caring what others think?

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This topic contains 198 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 weeks ago.

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    Dear anita,

    thank you for your encouraging words.

    I am working towards being able accepting myself, but of course I still have negative thoughts about myself. I wish I could reach the level of self acceptance like in the song. But there is still a lot of work to do. Some days are better than others. Compared to last year, I feel definitely better.

    During the last weeks, everything was overall o.K. I am still cooking, which is one of my favorite hobbies. At work I am doing o.K. I think I can do my tasks allright and I get along with my colleagues well. One even said that she will be working longer hours on the days when I am also there. And she said that she is glad, so we can work together more. It made me feel happy. I feel accepted there now and I am glad.

    Also, I reached out to some friends and acquaintances and went to the museum to draw with one of them and this weekend I will meet with another. I am still feeling lonely often, but it is o.K.

    The most insecure I am about uni. Sometimes I am not sure if I picked a career path that is simply too hard for me. I struggle still with procrastination and productivity. I can not really take myself seriously and of course others also don’t then. In the next time, I want to focus on improving there. Also in therapy, we want to focus on this topic.

    I am glad that this one class I struggled with is over now. At least I stayed until the end, but I am not so happy with my accomplishments. I feel that the things I produced are good and go in the right direction, but I also feel like it is not enough and I have a lot to learn. Also, I felt very insecure there and a little weird and crazy.

    But the important thing is to keep working on my project, as I feel that it has potential. Even if nobody else will care, it will be a way to express myself.

    Well,all I can say is that I am trying.




    Dear jana,

    thank you for your reply.

    Since I made my innitial post, i am already feeling a lot better.

    I have moved out of the dormitory and don’t feel as much anxiety.

    Some weeks ago, I even went to the dormitory,because my best friend moved in there (somehow life always wants to challenge me). At first, I felt very uncomfortable about going, but I went. And we talked and laughed a lot. It was good, to add this memory, because when I moved out of there, I was very desperate and crying.

    But now I am feeling better.

    I want to work on improving my relationships with people, but also with myself. You are right, not everybody will like you. I am trying to learn that and not worry so much about strange looks or small signs of impoliteness. When a thought like that comes up again, I try to let it go (I am not always succeeding, but at least I am trying not to act on it).

    Also, I have a therapist and we are working on my problems.I think I have already made some progress, but it is going slowly. Thanks again for you taking time to reply and for your help!



    Dear Lily:

    “Compared to last year, I feel definitely  better”- this is what healing is about: Progress, not Perfection.

    Good to read that during the last weeks “everything was overall O.K.”, that you are still cooking, that you are doing O.K. at work, that one of your colleagues likes working with you so much- it sure feels good to be accepted and liked.

    Good to read that although you are “still feeing lonely often”, that you are not overwhelmed by the feeling (“but it is O.K.”).

    “I am not sure if I picked a career path that is simply too hard for me… I feel that the things I produced are good.. but I also feel like it is not enough and I have a lot to learn”- I think that it is a good idea if you could meet with a trustworthy professional in your field who will look at your work and advise you as to what to do different next, if anything. I think that you need a more solid (emotional) ground to stand on as far as your career path, that you need to know if you can learn all that you need to learn within your available time frame, so to be good enough to succeed in your current career path.

    Better confront the fear that you are professionally not good enough than to have this lingering and persistent doubt about not being good enough, a doubt that is fueling this “struggle still with procrastination and productivity” that you mentioned.






    Dear anita,

    the crazyness of last year is hard to top. But I think I have more self-compassion now. I know better what I want and pay more attention to my own feelings. I think that I understand some things better. You are right, it will take time to heal and I made some progress.

    Today I feel a little nervous. I met with a friend and interviewed her, everything went good, but then the app I used only recorded five minutes of it :S I feel embarrassed. Then I also wanted to cook something for my friend, but it didn’t turn out so good. Usually I am a good cook, but I shouldn’t have used a recipe I never tried before myself…. I guess such things happen and it’s part of life! But I am so disappointed, because I really liked her answers. She was so nice to offer that I send the questions to her and she answers them in writing.

    Well, I am doing o.K., just a little disappointed and embarrassed.

    What I also noticed, when I listened to the 5 minutes is that I don’t like my voice. It is so child-like. I wonder if it is like that all the time or only when I am nervous. Last week when I talked to my professor, I also stuttered a little.

    And I also understood the words (their sense) of my friend a lot better, when I listened to her calmly in my home. But during the interview I sometimes felt confused, had some issues concentrating. I worried a lot thinking, am I listening well enough, am I asking good enough follow up questions? I wish I could be more relaxed, but it will surely take some time to become more comfortable with myself.

    As for the career, I think a mentor would be helpful, I just don’t know where to find it. My professors, I don’t know, they have many students. The professor whose class I attended this year, I think that I was also a bit difficult to deal with. And I feel the same for the rest of my professors.

    Then, I was in this program where they found a mentor for me. She was very helpful, professional and friendly, but at the beginning I was too distracted by other problems and then she had her first child. So it just wasn’t a good time for the both of us.

    So where to find a mentor? I am also shy to ask someone, as I feel that I don’t want to be a burden for anyone. And could I just go and ask someone if they want to be my mentor? It seems very difficult for me. Maybe my professors are the best choice, as it is heir job to help out students. I could work more on my project during the semester break and then write to this professor again, to ask what he thinks. Maybe I should have more concrete questions than in my class then. Mainly I am worried about things like graphic design and typography.

    I feel that my drawings are o.K. (there is of course always room for improvement). Some of them are even good enough to be in a magazine, I believe. Actually, I think my drawings are pretty good. As well as my ideas, they are also pretty good.

    What I have to improve on firstly  is professionalism. Doing the work even when I am not into it. At least I can concentrate well once I start, but why is it so hard to start something? Time management and organizing myself are two big things I need to work on as well. I am trying to focus on this now in therapy.

    Last week I discussed with my therapist about the things I want to work on. She concluded that she thinks that I am working enough, but I don’t plan in enough free time, so it happens, that I am wasting hours on the internet . Because then my mind is just taking the time off that I don’t want to give to myself. I need to find better balance. I have been saying this to myself for a long time, but it is still so hard to put into practice.

    Other things I need to work on: acquisition, negotiating contracts, how to work as a freelancer (insurances and the like)… There is a lot to learn and I often feel overwhelmed. Best to take it step by step.

    Another big thing is to learn to be more confident. Some people are not having the best work, but they are so good at selling it, they work hard, the put out a lot of work. It is more important than talent, I think.

    I feel that there is a lot I need to work on. And I get a little overwhelmed thinking about it.









    Dear Lily:

    I will read and reply to your recent post when I am back to the computer in about 11 hours from now.




    Dear Lily:

    I apologize for not getting back to you earlier – I forgot (I was not very focused this morning and still am not). I intend to be back to you no longer than 18 hours from now.




    Dear Lily:

    Having “more self compassion now” is a great progress. Keep at having more and more self compassion.

    “I know better what I want and pay more attention to my own feelings”- significant progress.

    Try to accept the reality that your interview of your friend got only partly recorded and that your cooking didn’t turn out as well as you hoped. You did interview her and you did cook for her- give yourself credit for these two things. Accept what happened and make mental notes so to prevent problems in the future (do what it takes to record as planned and follow a recipe you are experienced with next time), and let it go, best you can.

    Regarding your voice, being child-like, it’s okay to have a child like voice- the words you use, the compassion in your voice, for the person you are interviewing, is more important.

    Stuttering is okay too. Remember Self Compassion.

    When our anxiety is elevated, we have trouble concentrating, and we worry, second guessing ourselves, it is all part of elevated anxiety. And indeed, it will “take some more time to become more comfortable with (yourself)”.

    As for your planned career (“So where do I find a mentor?”), choose a mentor who is successful at the career that you are planning on having. Aim at one of your professors to evaluate your work/ mentor you, if you are planning to be a professor yourself.

    Whatever it is that you are planning on doing for money, ask for the opinion and mentorship of a person who is already successful making money in the specific career you are aiming at.

    “Best to take it step by step”-  I agree.

    Regarding confidence vs talent- work on both: improving the quality of your work and as you do, elevate your confidence (you can record your voice, practice a more confident voice, record again and improve/ record again).

    One thing I notice is that you often add “I think” following stating something you believe in: no need to add “I think” because it weakens your statement. Clearly all that you say or type is what you think, so just state what you believe without qualifying that this is what you think.

    “I feel that there is a lot I need to work on. And I get a little overwhelmed”- remember what you stated in your most recent post: “Best take it step by step”. And persist:  do not give up. Keep going and going and going, forward.



    • This reply was modified 1 month, 4 weeks ago by  anita.


    Dear anita,

    sorry that I did not reply sooner. I am not so good at replying, also in my everyday life. So clearly, you don’t have to apologize if you take some more time to answer…

    During the last weeks I was feeling a little more productive. I was imagining how a person that I admire would spend their day and that helped. What would she do? I asked myself.

    And I wrote down my thoughts in a diary too sometimes. It helped me to see things a little bit clearer, to become more self-aware, more conscious. I should definitely continue. Also I made to do lists, and got at least some things done. But still had the feeling that I hadn’t done enough. Especially when it comes to drawing. I always have to force myself to get started. But yesterday I scheduled a time when to start, that helped a little.

    Also I went to exercise classes four times last week. It felt good, but today I walked out of the class. The pace of the class was too fast and I couldn’t keep up, so I felt insecure. And then the instructor addressed me and wanted to correct me, I got overwhelmed and walked out. I know I overreacted and it was of course impolite to walk out. Then I worried about it, that I had interrupted the class and maybe the instructor was thrown off… But at least they continued as if nothing had happened.

    Sometimes I have this reaction that I just walk out, most of the time I regret it later.

    But it happened. I don’t know if I want to go to the classes anymore. But it helps me to go to a class to say motivated. On my own I have a harder time to exercise…

    For today, I should do my best to make he rest of the day better. Maybe I will cook something, definitely will draw and clean up.

    In reply to your post: yes, I think I have made some progress. Last week my therapist also said it, that I have improved. We read together the report she made for the insurance at the beginning of the therapy. She said that I am not looking around in the room so much anymore and can say better what I want.

    In the report it said that she felt a mix of wanting to protect me, compassion and anger when talking to me (the report was from October 2018). She explained that the anger maybe came from me shifting the responsibility to her. And also the comparison to a child was made. It is very frustrating for me to hear. Hopefully I have improved in that area… I would like to take more responsibility and take better care of myself. Really, I don’t want to be like a grown up child.

    But yes, again, like you said it takes time and self compassion. Really, I am trying. Even though some weird things like me walking out of class still happen.

    And yes, I can learn from such situations, like the interview. To prepare better. And it already took some courage to ask my friend for that interview and go through with it. So I can be a bit proud of myself.

    I have to admit, when it comes to the mentor, I haven’t really made progress. At the moment I am also more focused on organizing my life and structuring myself. I have the idea in the back of my head though. Maybe I feel a bit of resistance to the idea, because I would have to ask somebody, contact someone. Then they might feel bothered… but well, they can also say no, so there would be not too much to worry about.

    And maybe I am also resisting because I would have to truly face my career-problems… And I am worried that it will be too much at once. Often I think too short term. Maybe I should plan better… I plan to make weekly reviews from now on, so then things will become clearer in my head.Writing has helped before in seeing things clearer!

    Regarding saying “I think”, yes I use a lot of this vague language. I also often say “I don’t know”. My brother does the same. You can hardly communicate with him, he most of the time replies “I don’t know” “maybe” or “it’s possible”. His insecurity is even more extreme than mine.If he replies like this, other people make the decisions for him.

    In therapy, I often replied “I don’t know”, when I didn’t know how to answer the question. But I genuinely felt that I couldn’t answer, I didn’t know the answer. I guess I often give away the responsibility to others as well, especially if I feel overwhelmed and unsure.




    Dear Lily:

    Thank you for letting me know that I too can take my time before replying to  you. And good to read from you again.

    Regarding the exercise class, I suggest that you talk to the instructor, explain to him/ her why you walked out, and that you want to return to the class but you are embarrassed about having walked out. Ask her if it is okay that you did, and if it is okay with her if you walk out again when overwhelmed. Maybe the instructor will be very empathetic and accommodating to you and that will help a whole lot.

    Regarding not proceeding with long term goals such as the mentor idea, and focusing instead on short term goals, this is an understandable strategy of us anxious people. This is why sayings like: one step at a time, one day at a time are so useful for people who are anxious. The tendency to procrastinate tasks that cause us distress is strong.

    Aim at talking in concrete, more confident ways, then the vague, non committal “I think”, (or your brother’s) “maybe”, “it’s possible”. Use more yes or no, and way less maybe.

    I am glad to read that your therapist too can see your progress, and good to read that you are continuing to progress, using different tools and strategies to make it happen!




    Dear anita,

    thank you for your reply!

    When it comes to the exercise class, I will really have to “jump over my own shadow” as the German saying goes, I will have to step out of my comfort zone… It would be easier to just go to another class. But also, this could be a learning opportunity, and I also don’t see myself as a coward. Well, there is still until Sunday to decide. But I should still exercise in any case, as it helps me to stay motivated

    Yes, procrastination is a big problem of mine. That is definitely something I want to work on. Like I said in my last post, writing down things helps and planning my days. But I need to start thinking more long term. At the moment, writing things down helps. And from there I will expand step by step.

    I should also stop saying those vague words. But it is a habit I cultivated for such a long time. I need to be more aware of my language. People of course take me less seriously, if I always say such words and seem unsure. Often I ask others for security. What I noticed, people trust in others who come off as confident. Even if they might know less, people will trust them from their displayed confidence alone.

    I am trying my best to better myself. Some days it goes better than others.

    A the moment I am also a little worried about work. There are tensions and bad communication. People are overwhelmed, and there are questions around who is responsible for what… Luckily I am not directly involved, but my colleague always complains to me. And I listen, which is o.K. to me. But after yesterday I was wondering if I was a little too supportive in my comments. I wish they would just sit together and talk things out. Everyone says what bothers them and the others have to listen, without interrupting… Something like that…

    The mood is not nice and even when I am not at work I think about it. I just want to get along with everyone and do my work as good as I can.

    My colleague also told me she is thinking about leaving. I told her it would be a pity if she leaves, but I also am trying to learn as much as I can while she is still there.

    Oh well, I will see how it goes tomorrow!

    I will draw some more now and maybe journal for a while. I hope you are having a good day! Until next time!



    Dear Lily:

    I hope you jump over your own shadow this Sunday!

    “I should also stop saying those vague words. but it is a habit I cultivated for such a long time”- we are indeed habitual creatures, but we can learn new habits, and the more we practice them, the faster they will become habits as strong as the ones we replaced.

    Writing things down, planning your days, exercising, all these are activities that the more you practice, the more habitual they will become.

    Regarding work: when colleague A complains to you about colleague B, don’t say anything negative to A about B. Don’t say anything to A about B that you wouldn’t say directly to B.

    Also when A complains at length about B, gently interrupt and say something empathetic like: it must be tough on you, and then say something that will remove the topic of B from the conversation/ change the topic somewhat.

    Thank you and have a good day yourself!




    Dear anita,

    yes, I have to work on making these positive things my life habits. As I can really feel that they make me feel better!

    Today at work my colleague was at an event for the majority of the day, so there were no complaints. It felt more relaxed, but also I worried about making a lot of mistakes.

    The worst thing though was when a new colleague (A) came and was looking for my other colleague (B), but she wasn’t at her workplace. He told me that I should tell her to call him when she comes back. When she came back I told her and she said “Him? But I just saw him.” So I figured they must have talked. I still worried, should I remind her? But maybe it would seem like I am some sort of control freak, so I let it be.

    But then A came back and he asked B questions. So apparently they hadn’t spoken. And when he left I asked B, and she confirmed that they hadn’t.

    I don’t know why, but this makes me really angry! Now it seems like I am unreliable or crazy or something. But I actually cared to deliver the message and to help my colleagues the best I can. Maybe I should have asked B more about it when she said she had just seen him or stressed more that it seemed important. Once again I fail at communication.

    It really frustrates me. I would like to be normal and I would like to get along with people.I feel so foolish!

    Thank you for your advice regarding the conflicts between my colleagues. It makes a lot of sense to me. I cannot remember having said anything bad about my colleagues. Because I actually like my colleagues and think that they are overall good people. Just the communication needs improvement and I have criticism about how some things are handled. To my colleague, I just agreed that some things didn’t work out or what I don’t find o.K. But I also worried that I was a little too uncritical of my colleague, cause she might have played her own part in the problem as well.

    Hopefully things will get better at work. I often am very insecure there… But clearly I have improved compared to one year ago!

    Tomorrow I will meet my best friend again. We haven’t seen each other a lot lately and I really missed her! The last time I visited her in January at my former dormitory where she now lives (I also had to “jump over my own shadow” to do that!). Hopefully it will be a good day together!



    Dear Lily:

    “clearly I have improved compared to one year ago!”- absolutely, and it is good to witness such significant improvement.

    Regarding the recent happening at work: a new colleague A looked for colleague B. She wasn’t there so A told you to “tell her to call him when she comes back”. You agreed to do that, so you were responsible to tell her to call him when she was back. You then did just that, you told B that A asked that she calls him back.

    That’s it, that’s all that you needed to do to be responsible. It was not your responsibility to make sure that she calls him, or to see to it that whatever A needed to talk about with B was talked about and resolved.

    When you told B to call A, she said: “Him? But I just saw him”. This means that B heard you and therefore you fulfilled your responsibility to deliver the message to her.

    Your distress here is because of your over-responsibility core belief. Ask yourself on occasions like this one: what is specifically my responsibility and what is not my responsibility? Did I fulfil my responsibility?





    Dear anita,

    true, I delivered the message to her. Just sometimes I get so worried about what another may think, that I forget the actual truth. I thought A might think I am careless or whatever horrible things, when it is simply not the truth. The same thing happened at the dormitory or with K, just here it is on a smaller scale.

    You are right I should ask myself such questions to check what is the reality. Only that in such a situation I feel very distressed and it is hard to control my thoughts. Then I call myself all sorts of horrible things and think about hurting myself or hurt myself.

    I need to learn to become more mindful to break the circle.

    As for today, I drew for the last hours and listened to inspirational music. So I am feeling a lot better now. Drawing is truly where I have the most confidence in myself and I feel more in tune with myself also while listening to music. I am proud that I did not let it ruin my day and moved on from the painful feelings.

    Soon I will go to sleep and I hope you have a good day and also do things that will make you feel good.



    Dear Lily:

    “I am proud that I did not let it ruin my day and moved on from painful feelings”- this is the significant progress I mentioned in my earlier post to you today. I am proud of you too!!!

    “to break the cycle more: distressing situation-> elevated distress-> self blame/ distressing thoughts-> pause, challenge thoughts, correct thoughts, see the bigger picture-> lower distress.

    Drawing to the sound of inspirational music- do continue drawing, relax even more into it, relax and express yourself authentically. Make yourself shine inside-out through your drawings.

    I hope you have a good night.


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