“Do they like me? Do they think I’m good at this or that? Do they think that I’m fun to be around?”
Many people might say that they don’t care much what other people think about them. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, most of us have to admit that we care quite a bit. If we could count how many of our thoughts each day have to do with caring what others think of us, we would probably be surprised by how many thoughts there would be.
Thoughts troubling me all the time
All these thoughts about what other people thought of me was really a problem for me. I couldn’t get free from them. They troubled me and would not go away. My life became very “up and down” as a result. When I knew that people thought well of me - said good things to me or about me or thanked me and told me how much they appreciated me - I would feel great. But, if people criticised me or disagreed with me, I would suddenly become very unhappy.
I knew that I had to find a solution to this “up and down” life and overcome this way of thinking within myself.
“I don’t think about myself.”
There have been a few things that have been a great help to me in this area. One is a verse in 1 Corinthians 7:23 (GNT), “God bought you for a price; so do not become slaves of people.”
This gave me something real to use against all the thoughts that would come up throughout the day. Every time a thought would come up, I could pray to God, “Help me not to be a slave of people!” I knew that this was a prayer according to God’s will, because He didn’t want me to be so influenced by other people’s opinions, especially since I knew very well that this way of thinking brought only unrest and unhappiness.
The other thing that helped me was something simple that I once heard someone say. This person was in a position where a lot of people looked up to him and, knowing this, someone once asked him, “What do you think about yourself?” The answer was straightforward and honest. It was exactly the right answer and it stayed with me ever since. “I don’t think about myself,” he said.
Stop thinking about yourself
I didn’t have to wonder what he meant by this — I understood it right away. There is absolutely no reason to be constantly wondering what other people are thinking about me. I don’t need to be busy with all these thoughts that are only about myself. There is actually no need for me to “think about myself” in that way at all! It is of no use and only leads to stress, causing me to miss the opportunities that God has prepared for me to serve Him.
It definitely takes a battle but it’s worth it! A lot of unrest disappears when I stop wondering what other people think about me and stop making everything so difficult for myself because of my complexes. For example, thinking that “I am worthless” can stop when I choose to believe that these thoughts have nothing to do with how God sees things and the thoughts that He has about me. “Feeling sorry for myself” also has no place when I choose to take it like this.
Getting offended and defending myself because I take things personally will also stop when my thoughts are no longer about myself. Instead, I can be busy with finding and doing God’s will and living for Him alone. My ego is so full of myself, and it has to become smaller and smaller!
But the best part is that as I stop only thinking of myself, I become much more aware of the needs of others and I can see more clearly how I can be a help to them in their situations and circumstances. Where before I was full of complexes and only thinking of myself, I become more and more free from myself and more and more able to be a help and blessing to those around me, something that I really want to be!