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Words By Tara Wagner

How to Stop Caring What Others Think & Overcome The Crushing Fear of Criticism


Last week I shared a video about the 15 symptoms of Approval Addiction, the number one being, fear of what others think of you.

In this blog, I want to give you some real coaching, some exercises, to help you overcome that fear of criticism or worry about what other people are thinking so that you can feel confident in what you’re doing.

Watch here or read below.

How to Stop Caring What Others Think & Overcome The Crushing Fear of Criticism Click To Tweet

So we’re talking about how to stop caring what others think and for my aromatherapy buddies, there are 3 oils that I recommend you diffuse throughout this process.

  • Forgive – This is not just an offer forgiveness, it’s also just about letting go.
  • Wintergreen – also an oil for surrender or letting go.
  • Bergamot – It’s in Forgive but you can never have too much Bergamot. This is the oil of self-love and self-approval and we always get to start there.
fear of what others think

This is something I know a lot about because it’s something that I struggled with huge, big time, for years and years and years. It was probably my biggest stumbling block.

Ironically, I also had this really huge drive and desire to be authentic, to do things outside of the norm, to test boundaries and to live a life that I was passionate about. So what this meant was I was often like this in my own mind. I had this unstoppable desire to do what I wanted to do, to do what felt right to me, and I had this overwhelming fear of what other people would think.

So what did that end up looking like?

It ended up looking like me doing mostly what I wanted to do, but never really giving it my all; never really going all in on something. Always holding back a little bit.

I’m going to be sharing with you a seven step exercise to help you overcome this fear of what other people think, but before we get into that, I need to do a little break check on you.

I need you to understand that your fear of criticism is an unchecked need for love and approval from all the wrong places. If we don’t love and approve of ourselves, we will first look for it from others while second, simultaneously believing we don’t deserve it and fearing that they are going to see us for who we really are.

Your fear of criticism is an unchecked need for love and approval from all the wrong places. (Tara Wagner) Click To Tweet

So the goal of these 7 steps in this exercise is not just about not caring what other people think, but really coming to a place of approval as to who we are, what we believe, what we stand for, what we do.

At the end of this, I’m hoping that you no longer need other people to approve of you because you know what you’re doing is right.

So grab a pen and paper. Yes, I want you to take this old school because I want you to slow down and allow your mind to really have some answers surface before you type too quickly passed them and we will jump in with exercise number one.

Step #1 – Consider the source

Step number one is to consider the source.

When you are worrying about what other people think, especially when those other people are giving you opinions, it’s important to look at the source of that opinion. If they don’t have the life you want, they don’t have the advice you need.

So on your piece of paper, write out the question: “Do they have the outcomes or the life that I’m after?” and ask yourself “Do I admire this person enough to take their advice or their opinions of me to heart?

If that answer is not a hell yes, you can keep the baby and throw out the bath water and not worry about the things that actually don’t matter, but take in the advice that might support you.

If they don't have the life you want, they don't have the advice you need. (Tara Wagner) Click To Tweet
Step #2 – Picture them in their underwear

Step number two of how to stop caring what other people think is to picture them in their underwear and no this is not just advice when you’re up on public stages.

I actually want you to picture them in their underwear from their mom’s basement pounding away on their keyboard, telling you all of their opinions.

Most opinions that we worry about are the opinions of strangers, especially nowadays, strangers on the internet, but for all you know, it’s some weirdo sitting in his basement pounding away, sharing non-nonsensical opinions on things he knows nothing about, out of resentment, out of anger, out of fear, or out of maybe their own self-loathing.

So while you’re picturing them in their underwear, I want you to take a little bit of pity on them as well. Have some compassion because here’s the thing… Only hurting people hurt people. Only angry people really try to anger other people. Only people who have been criticized harshly themselves, will harshly criticize others.

If you’re receiving that type of behavior from someone else, remember that their behavior is an indication of their feelings, their needs, their experiences, where they’re at in their life, and it may have nothing to do with you.

So to keep this really practical, do a little bit of journaling.

  • Is this a person that I know?
  • How can I take compassion on this person?
  • What might be happening for them beneath their behavior that’s creating this reaction or this criticism in them?

This is an exercise in compassion for other people. Taking the perspective off of us and how we’re feeling and trying to remember that other people are humans too and they might be struggling as well.

Only hurting people hurt people. (Tara Wagner) Click To Tweet
Step #3 – List 5 Things you DGAF about

For step number three I want you to write down 5 topics/things/issues, that you give an F about.

I especially want you to try to find things that other people really do care about that you think is just not worth your time and energy.

The purpose of this is to prove to yourself that you can stop caring what other people think, that you don’t have to be in agreement with other people.

So when you write down these five things, I also want you to write down:

  • Why does this not bother you?
  • Why is this not a big deal for you?
  • What do you believe about it that allows you to not care so much about it?

Now, you may feel a little hesitant writing this down, especially if you worry that other people might judge you for not caring about these things, but just remember, no one else needs to see this. The only thing I want you to do is to prove to yourself that it is possible for you to let some things go even though other people are very passionate about it.

This also does not have to be a big global issue that we’re talking about. This could be little things like the comments section on Facebook. It can be something like the color of your neighbor’s house; things that you find that other people waste their time and energy on that you don’t give an F about.

Step #4 – List 5 Things You Love

This one’s always a little fun and a little bit surprising – I want you to list five things that you love that you assume everybody must love and then I want you to Google to find out that that’s not true.

Now, when I’m talking about these things that you assume everybody must love, I am talking about things like videos of puppies doing cute things or of laughing babies or of ice cream or chocolate, and I’m sure there probably at least one person right now watching this video going, “Ooh, I don’t like that.

That’s the point of this exercise.

I want you to Google and try to find people that don’t like the thing that you assume everybody must like that; sunsets or nice weather. You could even ask on Facebook amongst your own friends and family. “Is there anyone I know who doesn’t love puppies?

The purpose of this step is to show your mind and a very logical way that it is impossible to make everybody happy. There’s a quote that I love that says, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there will still be somebody who doesn’t like peaches.”

Now, don’t do this exercise in your head though. Really put some effort into it because through the practice of doing it, your mind will have an aha moment. You will be loosening up just a little bit more that fear of what others think when you realize that other people think some pretty weird things.

Step #5 – research The best book ever

Step number five is along the same lines. I want you to think of the best book in the world, like literally hands down the best book in the world and then I want you to go and look at it’s Amazon, one star reviews. Specifically, I want you to look at how many people left a one star review.

What you’re going to notice is that a lot of people have a lot of emotions about these things. You’re also going to notice that a lot of people have a lot of really logical reasons why they don’t like these things or just a lot of personal opinions.

Does this change the fact that it is the best book in the world? In your opinion? Does it change the fact that so many other people left at a four or five star review? Absolutely not.

Again, the purpose of these exercises is to logically show yourself, to show your brain, that there is no possible way that you’re going to make everybody happy and that if you try, you will end up doing nothing, but even then, you’ll still piss a lot of people off.

Step #6 – Write it all out

Step number six is a hard one, I want you to list out all the things someone, anyone, might criticize you for.

I want you to be really honest here; writing out the things that even you feel uncomfortable with. I want you to make this list as big and as long as you possibly can, but then I want you to go back and I want you to circle the 3-5 things that are the biggest to you. These are the things that might be the most tender. They’re the things that you really worry about the most.

Then I want you to ask yourself some questions, really journal on these. Give yourself some time to answer them.

The first question is, are you okay with these things?

Now, again, really give yourself some time to journal on this. Don’t just say a yes or no answer, but really give yourself a half a page or a full page to talk about why or why not, you are actually okay with these things that other people may not approve of.

If it’s a yes, I want you to write down why.

  • Why do I approve of this?
  • Why am I happy about this?
  • Why am I okay with this?

Giving yourself the time to talk about your reasons helps to solidify them within you. You start to feel more confident when you remember your why.

The next question is a really important one and this is the one that people will often skip over. We’re all going for that feel good emotion, but sometimes we need to take an honest look and feel a little bad in order to turn things around and make them good in the long run.

So the question is: “Do I legitimately need to work on any of these things? Is there a problem here that I can honestly say I need to address?

And again, you ask yourself “WHY?

  • Why does it matter to me that I address these things?

And then ask yourself “HOW?

  • How do I want to address these things?
  • Even when do I want to address these things? When is it important?
  • Is this an issue that I need to address now or is this like a five year from now thing?

The reason this is important is that it helps you to formulate a plan instead of ignoring the problem.

You can be proactive about it, which is going to give you more confidence if other people decide to criticize you for the same things.

The last part of step #6 is to write out a plan for how you will answer the criticism of these things.

How do you want to respond to a person who criticizes you about these things that either you’re working on or that you feel confident about? How do you want to handle it?

By figuring that out in advance, again, you’re being proactive, you’re gaining confidence in your ability to respond versus react, and actually having a plan on how we will respond, allows us to take this thing that was bothering us in the front of our mind and put it to the back burner to be dealt with later. We can finally take our mind off of it because we have a plan of action.

Step #7 – Take action

Step number seven to stop caring what others think is about taking action.

When we worry about what other people think of us, we tend to be inactive. We tend to not do the things that we want to do or we don’t do them to our fullest ability. We hold back a little bit. We don’t give it our all.

So what I want you to do is step number seven is first ask yourself:

  • If I 100% approved of what I was doing, how would I do this?
  • How do I want to show up?
  • How do I want to do this thing that I’m worrying other people might criticize me about?

The question itself is important. Again, it’s that proactive planning, but the most important part of this step is to do the thing even imperfectly, even if you feel nervous about it.

Joan Baez said, “Action is the antidote to despair.

Only by taking action will you take all of this mindset work that you’re working on and make it real? Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s going to be uncomfortable, but it is the only way to actually finalize to complete the process.

If you do not take it into the real world, put it into action and practice, practice, practice it until you perfect it, you’ll never perfect it.

We can’t grow in a nice little mindset bubble. We can’t grow by just doing internal work. We get to put those things into place in the real world.

If things like the fear of what other people think are holding you back or stopping you from doing what you really feel called to do…

I encourage you to grab my freebies below, to connect to my Facebook group, and let’s continue to talk.

My entire goal is to help women to crush their goals, not their soul, and I want to help you to do that by changing the mindset that might be getting in your way as well as the bad habits.

So here are some links to check out a few different things that I offer and ways that I might support you.

What about you, Boss lady?

What are your tips on how to stop caring what other people think or how to overcome the fear of criticism?


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