12 Signs You Care Too Much About What Others Think of You (and what to do about it.)

Years ago, I missed the bus. On purpose.

And even though I could do a quick sprint and catch the bus on time – I chose not to.

Because I could already picture the bus doors closing right in front of me. I could already picture everyone on the bus making fun of me for missing the bus.

So I chose the cool route – pretending that I was just casually strolling on the sidewalk. Super cool, right? (But of course, I had to wait 20 minutes in the cold to catch the next one.)

I lovingly call this my extreme case of what will others think of me worry.

Here are 12 signs you too might be caught in that what will they think worry web:

1.  You are constantly evaluating yourself through their eyes. It’s as if there’s a constant commentary running through your mind, pointing out where you are falling short and not meeting expectations.
2.  You are making their behavior mean something about you. When they don’t respond to an email right away, you must have done something wrong. Or it’s proof that they don’t like you.
3.  You are crushed by feedback – even though you often seek it out and you intellectually know feedback helps you grow. You take their comments personally – as proof you are not good enough.
4.  You want to say the right thing at the right time. So you self-censor a lot, afraid you might say something that might turn them off. And so to be on the safe side, you don’t speak up, you don’t share your idea or your opinion.
5.  You try to make everyone like you. You go out of your way to be interested in the same things they are, to like the same things they like, to make good conversation about things that light them up without sharing what lights you up. Because that might turn them off.
6.  You crave harmony and don’t get angry often – for some reason it feels as if you’re not allowed to do so. Yet you are very understanding when someone else gets mad.
7.  You tune down what you know, because others might think you’re a know-it-all. You believe that not showing what you’re capable of, will make others feel more comfortable.
8.  You are putting yourself last, secretly feeling resentful when they don’t seem to notice your sacrifices.
9.  You secretly feel ashamed about the things that truly light you up, because they seem so different from what the people around you seem to appreciate.
10.  You have a hard time asking for help because they might think you’re not competent or capable enough to handle it on your own.
11.  You have a hard time saying no, because they might get mad or be disappointed in you.

12.  You find yourself trapped in life that sounded promising, but that doesn’t fulfill you. But you’re too afraid to make a change, because they might judge you (and you’d make a fool of yourself).

But the truth is – no matter how careful you are, you can not make everyone like you. Living a comment-proof life, always being careful not to ever upset anyone, is not possible.

And trying is just plain exhausting and draining. It’s a recipe for burning out, even though on the outside, you’re walking around with a big “I’m doing great!” smile.

It sounds counterintuitive, but the most effortless, nurturing way to build genuine connections and a life you love, is to be willing not to be liked by everyone.

You get to

  1. genuinely connect with people who get you, who love to talk about the same things, share the same interests or have different views that genuinely fascinate you,
  2. use your talents and strengths to create the work only you can create and be genuinely appreciated for it,
  3. do things that light you up, honoring your unique voice and flaunt your one-of-a-kind style, so you genuinely feel fulfilled.

So allow yourself to do your thing, regardless of what they might say.

And keep in mind that their “not liking you” is not a reflection of your value as a person. It’s just a reflection of their preferences, needs, expectations, ideas, beliefs.

By the way – on my way back home from work, I saw my bus just driving off (true story!). Technically, I had missed the bus again. But remembering that morning’s incident, I waved to the bus driver, thinking “What’s the worst that can happen? He says no, driving on with a bus full of strangers making fun of me. I’ll just catch the next bus and that’s that.”

And guess what – he opened the bus door and I jumped on. Now how cool is that?


An Bourmanne mentors smart hardworking women who are feeling overwhelmed + (secretly) stuck in a life that sounded promising but feels draining. She helps them untangle themselves from those “what will they think of me” worries + that nagging (but carefully hidden) sense of somehow falling short.

Grab her step-by-step worksheets and learn how to deal with criticism without taking it personally. Because life’s too short to keep worrying about what they’d think + forgetting about what you’re really longing for, right?


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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