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Agony Aunt: How Do I Train Myself to Not Care What People’s Perception of Me Is?

by in Culture on 1st July, 2023

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khaki envelope

We know that Amaliah is like a Big Sis and sometimes our DMs have been filled with requests for advice on a range of life issues including relationships, friendships or work troubles.

We have started a new segment where we field dilemmas from the community and answer them as frankly as we can with love, truth and honesty.

Need some advice on a dilemma? Send them all here!

Assalam alaikum Aunty Maya, How do I train myself to not care what people’s perception of me is? I know this is something I can’t control yet I find myself trying to phrase messages and sentences in the best way to not be misunderstood or perceived negatively. I try think of all the possible reactions that people might have, and honestly I try to mind-read. I rehearse the topics that I should discuss when I meet friends or family so that I don’t appear boring, uninteresting, and like there’s nothing going on with my life and within me, but I always end up not saying the things I wanted to say, and I always end up being the listener. And as much as I enjoy listening to people, I end up feeling like I was a forgotten existence in these situations. At the end of the day I come back feeling like a loser and hating on myself, and I know it’s wrong, and I try to challenge these thoughts by telling myself I shouldn’t care too much about what anyone thinks of me, and then I hate myself for hating myself… its a constant battle. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the people I surround myself with and whether it’s me that’s allowing everyone to take the stage while I sit in the audience of their lives, never giving myself the spotlight. I make dua asking Allah to make my heart and mind more preoccupied with what His opinion of me is and to make my opinion of myself more positive and constructive. Do you have any advice on how I can work on this? Thank you.

Maya Areem Responds:

Salam alaykum dear sister, 

Thank you for reaching out and sharing your thoughts and struggles with me. It’s not uncommon to find ourselves overly concerned about how others perceive us and seeking their approval. However, it’s important to remember that your self-worth is not determined by others’ opinions of you. You are unique and valuable just as you are, regardless of what others may think.

One of the first steps towards freeing yourself from the burden of caring too much about others’ perception is to cultivate self-acceptance. Embrace who you are and recognize your own qualities, strengths, and accomplishments. Celebrate your individuality and focus on building a positive self-image. By acknowledging your self-worth, you will gradually become more resilient to external judgment.

It’s natural to worry about being misunderstood or perceived negatively. However, I can imagine it must be exhausting to constantly try to phrase messages perfectly or predict others’ reactions. Remember that you cannot control how others interpret your words or actions. Instead, focus on being genuine and authentic in your communication. Speak from the heart, express your thoughts, and share your ideas without the constant fear of being misunderstood. Embrace the fact that misunderstandings happen, and it doesn’t diminish your value as a person.

Listening is a beautiful quality, but it’s also important to ensure that your voice is heard and valued. It seems like you often find yourself being the listener, but feeling like a forgotten presence. It’s crucial to establish a balance in conversations. Seek out individuals who appreciate and encourage your self-expression. Surround yourself with supportive people who value your perspective and actively engage in conversations that allow for mutual exchange. Remember, healthy relationships involve reciprocity and genuine interest in one another’s lives.

Lastly, but most importantly, strengthen your connection with Allah and remind yourself that His opinion of you is what truly matters. Seek solace in His guidance and make dua to Him for a heart and mind that are more preoccupied with His opinion than with others’. Align your actions with your values and focus on seeking His pleasure above all else.

Working on these challenges can be a journey that takes time and effort. Consider seeking professional support from a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and help you develop strategies for building self-confidence, managing self-doubt, and developing a healthier mindset. They can offer personalized advice tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.

Before I sign off, I will leave you with another reminder that you are deserving of love, respect, and acceptance just as you are. 

May Allah bless you on this journey of self-discovery and grant you the strength to cultivate a positive and constructive opinion of yourself.

Love + duas, 

Aunt Maya

If you would like some wisdom from Aunt Maya, send in your problems here! Please note Aunt Maya may consult the opinion of others from time to time and ask the Amaliah community for their advice too. Aunt Maya is not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. 

Maya Areem

Maya Areem

Maya is a teacher by day and student by night. She hopes to pass on what she learns.