You are the captain of your life, the chooser of your fate, the architect and builder of your unique, fleeting, and precious existence. It is yours, not someone else’s — yet we so often allow what others think (or what we think they might think) to direct our actions and our lives rather than our own values and sense of purpose.
It is a disservice to ourselves.
There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.Aristotle
We can all do ourselves a favor by reducing the headwinds against success by not paralyzing ourselves or slowing down for fear of what others may think.
We are players on a global stage, eyes are on us, yet we must perform as if no one is looking, create without fear of rejection, do without the worry of what someone might think. Philosophy has much to say about this, for most philosophers have faced a generous helping of criticism themselves.
Care about people’s approval, and you will always be their prisoner.Lao Tzu
Caring too much about what others think is a detriment to your achievement. Here are some reasons to do the opposite, according to philosophy.
1. Worrying About What Someone Thinks Gives Them Control Over You — Control They Do Not Deserve
Any person capable of angering you becomes your master.Epictetus
2. Living According To The Opinions Of Others Means Living A Small Life
If you live in harmony with nature you will never be poor; if you live according to what others think, you will never be rich.Lucius Annaeus Seneca
3. They’re Not Thinking What You Fear They’re Thinking
We suffer more often in imagination than in realityLucius Annaeus Seneca
4. Love Yourself Enough To Cherish Your Own Opinions Too
It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.Marcus Aurelius
5. It Separates You From Peace Of Mind
The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do. Not to be distracted by their darkness. To run straight for the finish line, unswerving.Marcus Aurelius
6. They are their own critics too
Enter their minds, and you’ll find the judges you’re so afraid of — and how judiciously they judge themselves.Marcus Aurelius
So today, focus not on what others may be thinking, not on random opinions, not on unhelpful criticism or what your imagination says they are thinking. None of that. Instead, focus on what you can control, and what Marcus Aurelius valued as true fortune: good character, good intentions, and good actions.