No matter where you go or what you do, you will eventually encounter people who do not approve of you. You have probably heard it said a thousand times that “You can’t please everyone,” but you might not realize how true and relevant this statement is. It took me a long time to realize this, but it is impossible to make everyone approve of the way you are and the things you do. Unfortunately, even after realizing this truth it is difficult to balance the desire to please with the inability to please everyone. I have found that the best way to find that balance is to figure out who’s opinions about you matter the most. I disagree with those who say that you shouldn’t care what people think; you simply shouldn’t be affected by what everyone thinks.
I find it helpful to classify the people in my life by the degree to which I allow their opinions to affect me. The first and most important group consists of the people who’s opinions can change me. These are the people that I trust and that are closest to me. They include my family, girlfriend, and closest friends. When they disapprove of the things I do, they are aiming to make me better, not tear me down. Be very, very careful about allowing people into this category. When you let the wrong people change you, you lose track of who you are in the process.
The second type of person is one whose opinion can affect my mood, but not my personality or my actions. These are people who I know and am familiar with, but they are not very close to me. When they have a negative opinion of me, there may be good or bad intentions behind it. They may upset me with their opinions, but they cannot change me. Do not let everyone who is friendly with you have the power to change you.
The third and final type of person is one whose opinion cannot affect me at all. This group includes anyone I don’t know or know very little. When people like this disapprove of me, I ignore them. Negative opinions from this type of person should be brushed off and ignored. There is no reason to let someone upset you or change you when they do not know you or have your best interest in mind.
It is liberating to understand that few people’s opinions of you should really be very important to you. Enacting this concept in your life will help you to stop stressing over what people think of you, and you will expend less time and energy trying to gain their approval. Only be truly concerned with the opinions of people who have your best interest in mind; all other people’s negative opinions should mean little, if anything to you.