No One Cares, So Do What You Want

People Don't Care As Much As You ThinkYou’re on the brink of hanging up your shingle and offering your gift to the world. But instead you stare blankly at the screen, paralyzed by the fear of no one showing up.

Or… you almost announce your new blog on Facebook and ask for help spreading the word. But you hesitate as your mind fast-forwards to catastrophic what-ifs of no one really loving you enough to help.

Or… you start to ask for the contract, the deal, the review, but fortune-telling anxieties keep it collecting dust in your drafts folder.

Does this sound familiar?

God knows I’ve held myself back, wondering, worrying, agonizing about what someone else might think of me.

I’ve imagined the worst. Launching a product that feels edgy and makes me vulnerable but results in me being shunned by my peers, secretly laughed at at parties I was never invited to.

Sounds crazy, I know. But we all do it to some degree or another.

Sometimes the fear of what “other people” think has sadly tainted my work, holding me back from what I really want to say. I’ve even watered my message down to make it more “appropriate.”

And every time, two things happen like clockwork:

  1. I feel gross for compromising my vision.
  2. None of the doomsday scenarios ever pan out.

That’s because the real truth is that no one really cares.

I’ll prove it:

You walk into the opening party at an event you’ve been wanting to attend all year. It’s like a big-freaking-deal in your world. Maybe it’s the World Domination Summit or SXSW.

Whatever it is, you’re excited, nervous and totally self-conscious.

You wonder what everyone will think of you. Maybe they’ll think you’re lame. Maybe they’ll find out that you’re not really an expert and have no business teaching what you’re teaching. You’ll be found out. Laughed at.

Or worse, no one will talk to you at all.

But have you ever noticed that everyone else is busy thinking about themselves?

Suddenly, you’re in a big room full of people freaking out about what everyone thinks about them, when no one is really thinking about anyone else at all.

Kind of comedic, huh?

The reality is that no one really cares that much about what you do. So you might as well do whatever you want.

Here are a few ways you can practice this today:

  • Share your feedback honestly with someone. Speak compassionate truth.
  • Share your story fully — don’t skip over the embarrassing and ugly bits.
  • Don’t censor yourself. Speak the way you would in real life.
  • Wear the shirt your partner hates that you secretly love. Tell him to deal with it.
  • Create your art exactly the way you want to. Take risks. Walk the edges. Don’t compromise.
  • Do something in your business to follow your own heart, rather than blindly listening to what the experts think you should do.
  • Dance wildly. Even while someone’s looking. :)

Whatever you want to do, go, just do it. Because the truth is, no one really cares. Tweet

Ah, now isn’t that liberating?

Share your truth: What would YOU do if no one cared? Leave a comment and liberate yourself.

Note: This post was inspired by a conversation I had with Justin Ziorardi at the Green Dragon Pub in Portland. Thanks Justin for reminding me of the power of not caring what other people think.

Comment & Add Your Voice

Kelly Niven June 25, 2013 at 2:57 am

Hi Jonathan, Thanks for the reminder :-) really enjoyed your article. It took almost 2 years for me to overcome the fear of speaking my truth. I def feel liberated – free! The only thing I have found recently is (perhaps you can answer this question) – how do you balance following your heart/writing what you want and taking constructive feedback. Someone said to me that my “wearing my heart of my sleeve” can turn an audience off and give the appearance of being a martyr. It has brought a little bit of doubt back. Have you experienced this? Thanks Kelly

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Rose-Marie June 25, 2013 at 11:07 am

Ooops, Kelly, I missed the “reply” rollover. You ask a good question! If you look a couple comments down to “Rose-Marie,” I posted a thought in response to it. I hope it makes sense…

Jonathan June 25, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Here’s the deal Kelly, you stop caring about what other people think and START caring immensely about perfecting your art, serving others into freedom and making the world better.

You don’t have to stop caring completely, just refocus your energy and becoming who you most want to be.

SJ Scott June 25, 2013 at 5:45 am

You are so right! I know I felt this fear the first times I asked for help or published anything online. Even now quite a few years later still feel a little twinge every now and then.

As you said it is just your fear and self-doubt acting up in the something has to be pushed through and/or ignored. Fear should never hold you back!

-SJ

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Jonathan June 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Feels good, doesn’t it?

Vincent June 25, 2013 at 7:28 am

I literally just told this exact same idea to two different people over the course of two days. The first one I told this to is an absolutely beautiful girl who is insecure and has social anxiety because she’s afraid of what people think. I told her, “Think about it. Everyone else has the exact same fear as you and I’m willing to BET on that. Hell, even I fear it sometimes, but I’ve got a secret. I know that just about everyone else has the same worry about what others think of them. So everyone is the protagonist of their own story and they’re too busy thinking what others think of them. Do you think they have the time to think about you or me all the time?”

It’s a huge realization and I’m glad I figured this out much earlier than most people. We’re just side characters to everyone else. Sure, maybe we’ll be on their minds on occasion, but it’s definitely not as often as you’d think.

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Jonathan June 25, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Yep, everyone is the main character in their own movie.

Mary Martin June 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

character in my own movie … hehehe hilarious, but true.sigh.. ::: which totally validates why my self image doesn’t match my image in the mirror… and why I should really watch who I cast in my supporting roles! :::

Mikita June 27, 2013 at 11:26 am

we all live in our own private idaho

Karl Staib June 25, 2013 at 10:28 am

This post brought out some of my own fears. It’s why I feel like I need a buddy to go places, but the thing is I don’t. All I need is the ability to say hi, ask good questions and be a good listener. The rest takes care of itself.

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Jonathan June 25, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Thanks for showing up raw and honest Karl. Looking forward to seeing you in Portland soon!

Rose-Marie June 25, 2013 at 11:02 am

How true, how true! Now, if I could just get my teenage daughter to realize that “everybody” is only paying attention to their own selves…sigh.

Thinking about Kelly’s question, I wonder if the answer lies in the distinction between authenticity and airing dirty laundry. I followed a blogger who has blurred this line in her effort to be “authentic” and, truth be told, it made me uncomfortable enough to stop reading her blog. The old TMI scenario.

Where things fell apart for this woman, as I think back to the progression from authenticity to dirty laundry, is that she lost her focus on the purpose behind sharing these things. When she originally shared about her abuse at the hands of someone she should have been able to trust, that gave purpose to some of her artistic exploration. However, later when she went into depth about who the person was and the sorts of abuse committed, she just sounded vindictive and it felt like she was trying to suck me down into that angry mindset. While I don’t know the situation your friend speaks of, it does make me wonder if they are trying to save you from digressing into airing dirty laundry? If so, it’s important to consider this friend’s comment, because it can be such a difficult thing to identify ourselves. Just saying…

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Michael June 25, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Hey Jonathon,

Thanks for the reminder! Great post and I’m going to write my next post ON FIRE!

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Jonathan June 25, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hell yes.

deb June 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I’d write about politics and politicians because frankly they don’t really give a damn what anyone thinks, just the money they can pocket from their rich and wealthy and powerful benefactors. And I do mean all of them, not just the big fish swimming in the ocean but the small potato politicians who clog up our local municipalities with all their freakin rules(which I might add they don’t follow).

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Jonathan June 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Ha! Right on Deb. Go for it!

Don June 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Great post. Love it.
So true and yet so easy to forget (why are such great truths so easy to forget? Crazy). I think it must take daily habit to avoid slipping back into uninspiring self-consciousness – I wish had a daily habit for this! Your list of things to practice is very useful – will give them a whirl.

Better to make a fool of yourself than make a nothing of yourself.

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Jonathan June 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Love that last line Don. I’d totally rather be a happy fool than a miserable puppet to other’s approval.

Mans Denton June 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Hey Jonathan, absolutely right. Funny thing – when they do care, who gives a f&@*?!?

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Jonathan June 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Indeed :)

Dustin Lee June 25, 2013 at 4:02 pm

This is such a great and timely post.

I can spend insane amounts of energy worrying about what people will think. When the truth is that worst case scenarios are very uncommon.

Most of our actions don’t result in black and white results or catastrophic scenarios. Most of the time the results tend to be somewhere in the middle (and even then skewed towards the positive end of the spectrum).

Love this post!

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Jonathan June 25, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Thanks man. I agree – so much wasted energy!

Kelly Kuhn June 25, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Love this post -thanks for writing it, Jonathan.

I related to the fear of telling people on facebook about my blog. Thing is, when I finally did it, most people didn’t pay attention, and some people went to my site. Whichever camp they were in, it was just a blog to them. Whereas I suffered over telling them about it.

As I heard in 12-step rooms many times, “I don’t think I’m much, but I’m all I think about.”

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Marcelle June 25, 2013 at 6:12 pm

free, free, free to write what I want. Will start writing my s…t.

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Scott June 25, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I care about what others think of me. My problem is how often I WORSHIP what others think. My goals is to care deeply about what others think about me without being defined by it. If I literally don’t care one lick about what anyone thinks of me, I am a self-consumed jerk who uses people. But if I worship what others think of me, I’m frozen with insecurity and fear.

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Mark C. June 25, 2013 at 8:05 pm

I was blessed/cursed with an “almost Asperger” personality where for the most part I don’t give much thought to what people think of me because it’s literally not wired into my system. On the other hand, I don’t go around trying to offend people either.

It’s kind of fun to watch other people at Starbucks, or the mall, or airport and figure out the people that don’t care and the ones that do care about what others think. If you’ve never done that, try it. It’s liberating.

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Odey June 25, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Thank you for this! Your message is perfect and came at the perfect time.:)

What I’d do? I’d push my business and business ideas to its limits and take it as far as I could go. Then, I’d be free in every sense of the word.;)

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Iris June 25, 2013 at 10:04 pm

What would I do if I was so liberated? Probably take my shoes off and dance on that expanse of perfectly manicured grass in the centre of the clinical office courtyard. The great thing about having the courage to be who you are is that you inspire others to do the same. Anyone for a barefoot dance party?

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Martine June 26, 2013 at 1:00 am

Awesome post, Jonathan.
If we don’t act on what we want, then we’ve to question ourselves:

1. Why am I not acting on this?
2. If I really believe in what I’m capable of doing, why I do not feel confident?
3. Why do I have to “censor” my thoughts, my blog posts, my conversations? Will people laugh at me?

I’ve asked myself these questions many times, especially before I started my workshops. I was like, “Who the hell am I? Who will listen to me?” I wasn’t until I launched it (after months of hesitation) that I saw how crazy stupid I was for doubting my gifts. From an initial event of around 40 women, I’ve grown a tribe of 500 women, all believing in my crazy mission.

Who says anything is stupid? If you can prove yourself that you have NO REASON to doubt (like I did, and still do constantly), then there’s no telling how many other souls you’ll stir up!

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Schuyler Kaye June 26, 2013 at 5:29 am

Heck ya! I love it!

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Kelly Niven June 26, 2013 at 5:56 am

Rose-Marie – thanks for your thoughts :-) Yes, I guess there is a fine line. I only share what I think helps deliver the message, without compromising my relationships.

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Rose-Marie June 27, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Kelly, I’d say you understand your purpose (delivering the message).Since you are aware of the possibility of compromise–always wise to be watchful that this doesn’t happen!–you probably don’t have to worry that the heart on your sleeve is a sign of dirty laundry. Stay on the good road and soldier forth as you’ve been doing.

ThatGuyKC June 26, 2013 at 5:58 am

I’ve totally been that guy at a party feeling awkward and alone. Also guilty of making excuses and worrying about what other people think. Thank you for the encouragement.

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Aparajitha June 26, 2013 at 6:34 am

I have felt guilty of holding back things I should have said, done or given away to the world. There is a long list of ‘people’ whom I am worried about. Ironically some of them are dead/long gone from my life but still the fear of being judged lingers. Scary mind stuff.

Dance wildly? Even while someone’s looking? I have got that one nailed though. :D

Inspiring post!!!Keep it up.

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Cliff June 26, 2013 at 6:36 am

Loved reading this! Much more than a reminder to “mind” one’s own self; A call to authenticity, initiative, action, and more importantly, measured confidence in one’s own abilities – creative or otherwise! Thanks much! Indeed a needed push for this reader!

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Elle June 26, 2013 at 8:10 am

You have a really good point there and it is something I have been dealing with(avoiding!) lately so reading your post was really good.

It isn’t easy to stop worrying about what folks think though. Especially if you have been doing it for years. Getting it into your head that they are too busy worrying about themselves to worry about you…does help.

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Mylene June 26, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Thanks for the reminder !
This is something I’ve realized a while back, but I keep struggling with it. It’s not easy to stop caring about the opinion of others.

Now I try to stay true to myself, and I think that in these conditions the consequences -if there are ones – won’t matter much.

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Blair July 4, 2013 at 10:26 am

Worrying about others is basic human nature and we really need to get out of this and start living our life. We must do what we want to and be true to ourselves. Though its very difficult to not worry about others but at some point in your life, you need to live for your own self. Jonathan says “Wear the shirt your partner hates that you secretly love. Tell him to deal with it” and I did it, I really felt as if I lived my life. Also, I got immense help from this site, 100daychallenge.org and now I live the way I want to

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zainab July 6, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Thanks for inspiring us sir :)

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zainab July 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm

In my opinion, we have a self doubt when we know that we haven’t worked hard to achieve our goals and that is because we were too busy in thinking about what other people would think. If we keep our worries aside when we are working then we will not only enjoy our work but also gain more experience and knowledge.

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David Stevens August 19, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Hi Jonathan,
Nice work. We worry too much about the intangibles without just getting on and doing what we want to do. Invisible disc brakes holding us back … crazy isn’t it? Thanks for this.
Be good to yourself
David

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Paula August 24, 2013 at 10:58 am

Wow, talk about a poke from the universe. I have totally procrastinated announcing my blog on Facebook and going officially live for these very reasons.

Thank you so much for this. I know you are right. Time to move.

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Rich Kelly September 14, 2013 at 7:59 pm

You are a Freekn genius!!! Really? To add on to your stating of the ‘obvious’ is that is acute, you will even find this theory (truth) bleeding into your own family. Parents included. Holly shucks. Pretty dark topic. Rich

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liob October 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Hi.. great story can i save it?

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Joann June 25, 2014 at 5:29 am

This is totally liberating!
I spent years dreaming and not doing anything for fear of what other people may say. Glad that I made a commitment to not care at all starting this year. And yeah, people don’t really care :) Great post!

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Jeffrey Craig September 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Yes. I agree with this. Everyone is self centered and everything in our mind is us imprisoned by worrying what others think. As I write this response I catch myself worrying what others that may read this think. Lol.
I believe most all people (including myself) believe everything is abour them. Its very hard in our society not to be that way.
I would love to hear what others think and learn to overcome this disability.

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HAL ERICKSON October 1, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Despite the fact that I’m in my sixties, I’d chuck writing, data imaging, teaching and the other things I’ve achieved a measure of success with, and go back to acting in plays, which I did so passionately in my twenties until fear and stupidity convinced me that I would never get anywhere in the theater world, compelling me to give it up completely in my 30s and pretend that it didn’t matter.

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Randy November 4, 2014 at 5:56 am

Hi Im kinda lost in my life right now, like im not sure whats happening, just that Ive been reevaluating my life and my values. Reading what you wrote I realised that no one actually really cares.
So if no one cares about you at all, should you care about them? Like should you help them in times of need? After all if they dont care why should you care for them?

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