Staying real and authentic can feel like swimming upstream — especially when you’re still in the process of figuring out who you truly are and where you fit into the world. As social beings, we’re naturally programmed to crave a sense of community and cooperation. It’s important to have a support network of friends and family members who are there to talk through problems with us when times get tough, but it’s equally crucial to hold firm in your own independent thoughts, interests, and sense of individuality.
While you may love Hawaiian pizza, your friend may prefer vegetarian, or even cauliflower crust. Differences in opinion don’t make either of you wrong, and placing too much weight on what others think of your choices will only lead to confusion. You can never be all things to all people, and the sooner you accept yourself for who you are, the sooner you’ll be able to drop the act and stop caring so much about what others think.
Try these seven tips for listening to your inner voice, being yourself, and letting go of the judgments of others.
1. Make a list of your top 10 values and why they’re important to you
Often, we’re easily swayed by the opinions of others because we aren’t sure of our own true beliefs, principles, and life values. Take some time to delve into the things that make you tick, and why these aspects are important to you. Maybe freedom is a top value for you, while for others, it could be security or routine. The important thing is to not judge yourself for your values — you’re just as entitled to stay firm in your ideals as anyone else.
2. Write down the qualities that make you unique
Boost your self-confidence by contemplating your most interesting qualities. Although you may be embarrassed by your passions and pursuits, try thinking instead about how these attributes make you unique. When you realize the value of the things that make up your identity, you won’t care so much about what others think. Be brave enough to follow what makes you happy, and everything else will fall into place.
3. Speak your truth
When in conversation with friends or coworkers, practice standing firm in your true beliefs and opinions. It can be tempting to back down when you’re contradicted, but when you speak your truth, you’ll slowly begin to notice that a little dissent in conversation keeps things interesting, and won’t always lead to conflict or being disliked. When you stay true to yourself, even when faced with opinions that are different from your own, you’ll begin to gain confidence in yourself and your beliefs. Be unapologetically you, and others will appreciate your individuality.
4. Be in the moment
Take notes from Eckhart Tolle and be more present in everyday life. So often, we spend so much time worrying about what others think during social situations that we miss the moment completely, and we end up coming off distracted or disinterested. If you find your mind wandering into negative territory during a conversation, try to gently bring yourself back by focusing on your breath and the sensory experiences around you. What do you smell? What do you hear? When you begin to live more mindfully, worries about what others think will fall away, and you’ll be able to perceive the situation in a more positive light.
5. Find inspirational role models to look up to
It can be tough to ignore the chatter around you when you feel like you’re alone on your journey. Whether you’re trying to make it as an artist, a blogger, or a world traveler, try to find others who have gone before you so you can feel more confident and positive along your path. While others in your life may not understand your ambitions, there’s always someone else who’s already living your dream. Instead of feeling jealous of them, use their stories as fuel for your fire: study the lives of inspiring people through biographies, articles, or even social media to remind yourself that your dreams are attainable.
6. Take everything with a grain of salt
You’ve heard this expression before, and there’s a reason why it’s so often repeated. If you take the opinions of others too much to heart, you’ll end up bogged down by a thousand different ideas about how life should be lived. There are simply too many lifestyles, ideologies and perspectives out there to count, and while remaining open-minded about them all is important, you also have to be able to tune out the chaos when necessary. Remember that people can only ever speak from their own experience and understanding, and your path is completely different from everyone else’s.
7. Mind your own business
In the digital age, social media has made it all too easy to peek over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. Keeping up with the Joneses (read: the Kardashians) has become literal, and for many, social media has become a source of endless anxiety and societal pressure. Although it can be fun to peruse Instagram, try to keep a level head about it all and remember that you’re only seeing everyone else’s highlight reel. Post about the things that light you up, and try not to get caught up in comparison or a bad case of the “shoulds.” If you stay authentic and consistent with your content, you’ll slowly begin to build a tribe of others who love you for you—just one of the many bonuses of letting go of what others think.