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“But what will people think?”

“Ah don’t worry about what others think, just do it!” When have you given that advice to others? I know I have. And I know now that it is utterly unhelpful.

Those thoughts inside our head that worry what others think – those are normal! They are designed to keep us from doing anti-social things or things that will harm our relationships.

We have a social brain, and it is attuned to others, for very good reasons. We need our social systems to survive – we need people to accept us, like us, love us and include us so we can stay safe.

The typical human brain cares deeply about what others think because we are programmed to belong and we are programmed to need status, which means that we want to be respected and well-regarded. Of course, the brain is often a little overzealous in its concerns about belonging and status and sometimes (often!) it is flat out wrong. But it still doesn’t help people to tell them to ignore that inner voice.

 If we can recognise that we are having this thought or concern about what others think, we can at least examine it a little further and ask ourselves if the worry truly has any merit.

Let’s give ourselves, our clients, and our friends a break: let’s stop telling them to stop worrying about others’ opinions.

Instead, let’s help people:

  • realise how important it is for them to feel that they belong
  • notice how reasonable (or not) their inner advice is
  • consider their inner voice and make a choice about whether to keep listening to it

With that, then they get to choose what advice to follow.

Your brain wants to be SAFE and Certain

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For more information about our need to belong and be relevant in our ‘tribe’, check out our mini-course on: Your brain wants to be SAFE and Certain.

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