Let’s face it, as much as you want to stop caring about what people say about you, there’s a tiny part of you that does. Whether that’s in the workplace, with your family, or your romantic relationships, you just can’t help but seek the approval of others—unintentionally or not.

But, according to licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., caring too much about what others think can make you less ‘you’. “We stop living our lives and start living our lives in the service of others,” she says. Plus, if you stopped paying attention to other people’s opinions, you’d feel freer. “Most of us know right from wrong and have a solid sense of responsibility—we tend to get thrown off course when we heed what others want.”

So how do you even begin? Here are some tips:

Understand that hurt people hurt people.
You’ll meet different types of people in your life – the good ones and the bad. If you’ve encountered someone you didn’t get along with, remember that their response to you is not always your fault. With this in mind, it’ll also help you avoid overthinking if you knew where they were coming from.

Remove sources of negativity around you.
Toxic relationships can be draining, and if you can’t drown out the negative thoughts and criticisms you get from people you know, maybe it’s better to cut off ties completely. You don’t need to settle for so-called friends who do nothing but bring your spirits down.

Respect other people's opinions.
It’s a reality no one can ever change—what is important to you may not hold the same value to others. You have to understand that everyone is unique and that shouldn’t bother you when you end up disagreeing with what others say or think. Dialogue is important, but it's also equally important to learn when to pick your battles.

Learn to focus on yourself.
Let people think what they want to think, but don’t let their words affect how you see yourself. It will only drain you if you keep on changing who you are just to be accepted by everyone you know. Enjoy your individuality and do what makes you happy!

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