October 17, 2017 Viktor Sander

How I stopped caring what others think

Let’s talk about how I stopped caring about what others thought of me and how you can apply this in your life.

For me, it started a late night out, now many years ago.

I was just beginning my journey of self-development. I was especially concerned about my lack of experience with girls: I had never even kissed a girl.

I always felt like that was something I had to hide and make sure nobody knew about. I worried a lot what others would think of me if they knew.

But this night was different.

I had been out clubbing with my friends and had to grab something to eat at a local hamburger joint. There was no table available, so I sat down by a middle-aged woman.

We started talking.

I don’t know exactly why, but that night I felt like I just didn’t want to care anymore. I think I was tired of always trying to hide my big shame; my inexperience with girls. So I told her everything about it.

It was as if the shackles weighing me down finally shattered. It’s still one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done.

(By the way, she didn’t really believe me, because how could I seem so confident about it?)

I felt like I was unstoppable. All of that shame and self-consciousness just washed away.

After that night I realized something…

I had been totally honest with who I am to a total stranger, and the world didn’t come crashing down because of it. Quite the opposite – she was one of the first people in my life who’d seen me as confident. Why was I so concerned about hiding it for everyone else?

Here’s what I realized: First when we are okay with others knowing about our insecurities, can we become truly confident with who we are.

This didn’t mean I started telling everyone about my fears and insecurities. (That would just be weird.) But I stopped feeling afraid of being exposed.

If anyone would ask me about my experience with women, it wouldn’t throw me off balance. I knew I could just tell them like it is.

And sure enough, with my newfound confidence, meeting girls soon wasn’t a big issue in my life anymore. Today I have a wonderful girlfriend as of 5 years.


Here’s me and my girlfriend on a recent trip to Thessaloniki, Greece.

How to deal with fear and insecurities

That burger joint experience taught me something fundamental about fear:

Fear feeds on itself. When we avoid it, it becomes stronger. The funny thing is that when we stop running away from our fears, they eventually stop being scary.

When I finally admitted something I thought would destroy me if it came out, I realized that nothing had changed. I was still me. People still liked me, maybe even a bit more because I became more relaxed and authentic.

The first step to stop caring what others think and become more authentic

To become truly confident and stop caring so much about what others think of us, we need to face and deal with our insecurities. As long as we walk around in life afraid of being “exposed”, we can never fully be ourselves: we can never be relaxed and confident in ourselves.

That’s why the first step towards getting an unbreakable confidence is to admit to ourselves what we are insecure about.

We don’t HAVE to let the world know about it, but we need to accept that it’s okay IF the world knows about it.

What’s the worst thing that will happen if your insecurities come true?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I want you to actually try to visualize a worst-case scenario.

It’s healthy to think about because we often realize that even the worst scenarios are quite benign.

Perhaps someone laughs at us. Perhaps people who aren’t our real friends don’t want to hang out. But the world keeps turning, and no one can poke a hole in your surface as your confidence is solid.

This idea is confirmed by the research behind the psychological principle of self-acceptance. Studies have shown that accepting ourselves like this leads to many benefits that boost our confidence.

Here’s a short list of traits shown in studies to improve with self-acceptance:

  • Less fear of failure
  • An increase in self-worth
  • An increase in independence
  • An increase in self-esteem
  • Less desire to win the approval of others
  • Less self-critique and more self-kindness when mistakes occur
  • More desire to live life for one’s self (and not others)
  • The ability to take more risks without worrying about the consequences
  • Feeling freer in life to do what we truly want

Your first mission: Write down something you are afraid or insecure about. By doing that, you are taking the first step towards facing it and becoming more confident in yourself. By writing it down, you also make sure that your fear stops growing and becomes too much to handle.

Bonus mission: After doing the first mission, think about how you can challenge and face your fear. Here are some examples:

Telling someone about something you feel insecure about: It could be applying for a new job, introducing yourself to someone, going to a party, calling a friend/date.

Write it down below in the comments (anonymously is OK) and take your first step. Too often, we think we are alone in our insecurities. If you see someone that shares your fear, reply and let them know they’re not alone.

Comments (22)

  1. Matilda

    I’m insecure about not sounding smart enough sometimes I forget the words I want to say because of my anxiety and overthinking. I feel like I loose track of what I was going to say and sometimes find myself cutting it short because I get so nervous

  2. Girl27

    Hey,

    I have a lot of fears but one of the biggest is when I have lunch at work with other colleagues and someone asks me a question or when I want to say something that will get people to look at me. In these kind of situations I instantly start blushing and since I’m aware of that it even gets worse.

    • David Morin

      Thank you for sharing!

      A little tip, try to just roll with it, it’s OK to blush. Most people actually think it’s kind of cute. When you let go of trying to control it or hide it, it will also stop being such a big issue. Hope that helps!

  3. AN

    I’m insecure about my insecurity (weird). The biggest part of my anxiety is that I’m self-conscious of people seeing how anxious I am. How much of a “weak loser” I am, how scared and desperate I am for them to like me and how I absolutely know that they don’t or won’t. My self-image is low and I know other people know that my self-image is low, so then the downward spiraling feedback loop begins. I see myself acting as if I WAS inferior and unlikable and hated almost compulsively which of-course puts people off. I end up getting really paranoid about this. I see it as if it’s a Gollum-like self that I can’t help but turn into when I’m around other people, made up of how I see myself and how I think others see me. I might be insane! And I’m insecure about that.

    • Viktor Sander

      You are so brave for sharing and looking at your own insecurities AN. I think you’d be surprised at how many people are insecure about their insecurity, I think that’s probably one of the most “normal” and common insecurities out there. It’s good that you already have so much self-insight on your destructive behaviors, that helps a lot in trying to improve them.

  4. Wow this is good. I remember reading somewhere, feature your insecurities until they become your strengths. So you don’t let them rule you anymore.

    Alright, but let me join the fray as well.

    I am insecure about failing to live up to my potential. That I will try to little to be good in life. Maybe I should forgive myself more for necessarily achieving arbitrary images of perfection.

    • Viktor Sander

      Thank you Timon and thanks for opening up!

      I think your plan on being more forgiving and compassionate towards yourself sounds AWESOME. Self-compassion and acceptance are probably two of the most powerful concepts out there to start living life more fully, in my opinion.

  5. Anon

    I’m afraid of letting loose and dancing in social/club/party type events with people that I know. It feels really awkward to me and I stand there as if I’m the only one noticing how strange everyone looks. I think this still happens even when I like the music that is playing. In the end, I don’t have as much fun as other people do and that bothers me. I’m also very afraid of karaoke. I wonder how people are able to sing badly in front of their friends without caring and still have a grand old time.

    • Viktor Sander

      Hey Anon, brave of you to open up about your fears! I can definitely see what you’re saying, I felt just the same dancing at clubs when I was younger. But then over time I got used to it and could start relaxing and having fun, just by doing it a LOT. It helps if you practice on focusing outwards, so you don’t get stuck in your head. Same thing with Karaoke, it’s about focusing outwards and just having fun with your friends. Laugh together with them at how bad you ALL are. You don’t need to be perfect, it’s often, even more, fun if you are BAD. Easier said than done, but here’s a video where we explain the concept of focusing outwards better: https://socialpronow.com/is-it-possible-to-double-your-confidence-in-5-minutes/

  6. Barbi

    I’m really afraid of never making close friends. I started university a month ago, and I thought that by now I would have at least one person I could invite to go see a movie, or have coffee with. There are some people I talk to on a daily basis, but mostly about university stuff, and I feel like I can’t really connect with anybody, while others act like they are best friends already, so I’m scared of never finding a real friend.

    • Viktor Sander

      Thanks for sharing Barbi. Have you considered just probing a little if anyone wants to go see “name the latest movie”? There are also usually different societies/clubs to join in most universities, that’s a good place to start making friends too. There are so many just like you who wants new friends, especially at university, but many are too shy to take initiative.

  7. AC

    Hi, I’m insecure about how I look. Not just my face, but my body, my clothes, and my hair. I’m worried if I don’t wear the right clothes, I’ll get made fun of for having an odd fashion, if I have the wrong facial expression, that I’ll get called retarted or ugly, if I don’t wear makeup, then I’ll get called ugly and everyone in school will know how disgusting my face is without it. I’m even insecure about the makeup I wear. I’m insecure about not being able to go out in public and feel comfortable without makeup, I don’t want to wear makeup all the time, but if I don’t, then I’m very uncomfortable and I don’t function right. I’m insecure about my hair, I’m worried if it doesn’t look flawless, that I’ll look ‘ugly.’ I’m insecure about the type of guy I like. When I told my best friend about him, he was disgusted. I know the guy I like isn’t as ‘pretty’ as everyone else is most people’s eyes, but I like him for who he is. But that situation made me realize how messed up everyone is. They think you need to be pretty to be worthy of being liked. And this is most likely the reason behind my insecurities. I’m also insecure about starting a conversation with the peers around me. I’m just fine with random strangers in he street, but I have an issue with my fellow classmates…

    • Viktor Sander

      Thank you for sharing AC. I was just reading up on body image when I was researching for our new program. I found an amazing book that has given many people in your situations very good results, it’s called “The Body Image Workbook: An Eight-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks” by Ph.D. Thomas Cash. I highly recommend it.

  8. C

    I’m insecure about the fact that I am 34 and never been in a relationship…in my teenage years I was very shy and lacking in confidence and withdrew from social things. I have since gone through life hoping for things to happen but never got anywhere. It’s difficult because although I sense my friends know this about me, it is something I feel terrible about and also it makes finding someone all the more difficult because I think they will reject me for it. I have kept hoping something will happen and I will meet someone great, but as yet it hasn’t happened despite the fact that I am unrecognisable in terms of confidence to who I was years ago. These days I feel like my opportunities to meet someone are also very limited. People say to me all the time that they don’t understand why I am single, but I can’t answer that question…but my insecurities around it are certainly a part of it.

    • Viktor Sander

      You are so brave for sharing C, I think you’d be surprised to know how many shares your situation. I hope someone else reads this and lets you know you’re not alone. And there is definitely always hope, no matter your age. Most people who are looking for a relationship don’t care that much about your experience because it doesn’t matter in the long run.

  9. M

    I am very insecure about my position in terms of popularity in my school. I used to be quite popular but something happened and that made me distant from the rest of my grade. So now I am insecure about being a ‘loser’ by my definition and not having any friends (although now that 3 years have passed from the incident, I have a few friends). I am also insecure about starting and maintaining conversations; i am afraid that people might think im boring and validate my ‘loser’ status. Because of this i am very scared to talk and share my opinions, which in return make me look very ignorant. Thank you and have a great day!

    • Viktor Sander

      Great job sharing M. It’s so good to be aware of these issues like you are, because now you can see the pattern this creates and how it affects your behavior. Can you see how this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy? Where you are afraid others will find you boring, so you don’t talk as much, which actually makes you even more boring. Now that you are aware of this, you can start working on breaking this pattern. Best of luck!

  10. Anonymous

    Hi, I am afraid to srike up a conversation with others

  11. Mateen

    I’m very insecure about going to my job interview. The thought of it is freaking me out. I am doing negative things as a result, like procrastinating when I could have been preparing for the interview. Also insecure if I don’t get the job or do well on the interview, what my parents, family, and others will think about me. These thoughts scare me. I’m scared of a lot of things. Anyhow. That felt really good. I was also scared to tell u it feels good, even though you probably don’t know me, just because it makes me sound cheesy. Anyhow, have a good day.

    • Viktor Sander

      Thank you so much for sharing Mateen, that’s so brave of you to share and a great first step! The harder and scarier it feels, the better it usually is to do it when it comes to facing our fears.

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