Ways to ignore what others think

Yesterday, I covered reasons to ignore what others think. Others' expectations are a powerful motivator, so is ignoring them the best action? Yes, sort of.

First, we have to identify the power of the expectations. The most powerful expectations that I've found are the perceived expectations of you and your peers. This is evident in team sports: if the team is running their asses off, you're expected to do the same. It's also evident in education: if your classmates know something, you're pressured to know it too.

I believe it's possible to replace people's actual expectations and replace them with your own.

Let's pick an arbitrary goal, like running; let's say running 10 miles is our goal. It's effective to convince yourself that others expect you to run 10 miles. "I'm expected to run 10 miles" quickly becomes "I'm responsible for running 10 miles" and responsibility can be a strong motivator.

Let's use that same goal, but apply it more broadly: "everyone runs 10 miles". If everyone runs 10 miles, then you suddenly become less than everyone; you're not pulling your weight. This is a much stronger motivator. "Everyone runs 10 miles" implies "I'm expected to run 10 miles", but instead of responsibility, it feels more akin to competition, perhaps necessity.

Ideally, you'd feel necessity to achieve a goal you've imagined others achieved. If not, then on the spectrum of motivation types, competition and fear of shortcoming fall between responsibility and fear of emotional pain. The problem is, these motivation types are extremely effective if you're competitive or already have high expectations for yourself.

Motivators (healthy to unhealthy)

  1. necessity
  2. responsibility
  3. competition
  4. fear of shortcoming
  5. fear of emotional pain
  6. fear of physical pain

Convincing yourself that you're catching up to a crowd is motivating, unless the goal posts keep changing and you never catch up. This is why it's important to only convince yourself when necessary. Or, if it's easier to prolong the expectations, take breaks to recognize your achievements.