Why Care About What Others Think?

Bill Abbate

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

If you are like most of us, you care what other people think about you. Have you ever considered how this may affect your life? Does what everyone thinks even matter? How do you even know what they are thinking?

I am enjoying a new series on YouTube at MyMentorJane titled Rip it off Wednesdays, where she says she will help you:

"Rip off the assumptions stuck to your thinking about how things are, what other people think and feel, and who you're supposed to be."

In a recent episode, Jane deals with an assumption many of us carry as a burden in our lives. The assumption is we should care what other people think about us. Not only can this assumption limit what we can accomplish in life, but it can also be suffocating!

I have heard many people say, "once I am old enough (usually something like 50 or 60), I won't have to care any longer what other people think of me." Yet, we know that time rarely comes. Why wait until old age to address such an issue? Why not tackle it now!

Following is Jane's script for her short video on this subject, used with her permission, of course! If you prefer to watch the video, click here: Should I care what other people think of me | Rip it off Wednesday


Should I care what other people think of me?

"We're all human and need help. At some point, we seek out and pay attention to what others have to say. We pick up cues from their tone of voice and body language. When we hear positive feedback or sense approval, we're energized to move forward. It's a different experience when we pick up a negative vibe. Defensiveness pops up, self-doubt creeps in, and defeat can take over. For these reasons, some believe we shouldn't care at all about what others think of us.

But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater, meaning, let's be realistic that what other people think CAN impact the quality of our lives. BUT, if we try to please everyone, life is pretty difficult. So, what's a reasonable assumption to hold? Here's the lightbulb moment. Some of our assumptions are true. We wouldn't get out of bed in the morning if we didn't assume our feet would land on the floor. Some assumptions are not true: the grass is not always greener on the other side. This is a case where an assumption is partially true.

Most of our assumptions came into our life when we were young and less powerful. We formed assumptions based on what we thought was true about the people and conditions in our life at that time. What my parents thought of me meant a lot when I was 5. As a teenager, what a boy thought made a girl attractive determined how I tried to look. The challenge with assumptions is that they may not mature as we mature. We stay locked into views that no longer serve us.

What if we updated the assumption: "I should care about what other people think of me" to "I should care about what people who matter to me think of me?" Hmm. I like it.

It's REALISTIC. We don't live in a vacuum. What my boss and coworkers think about me matters for performance evaluations, pay increases, and promotions. If you're a server or work in sales, your customers' opinions impact your earnings in a big way.

It's also HEALTHY to limit feedback. Why run yourself ragged trying to be all things to all people or confuse yourself listening to anyone who's got an opinion? Instead, think about whose input is relevant and helpful, then focus time and energy on their input.

It's WISE to limit your influencers to the people who matter to you because they're the ones who've earned your trust. You may not like or even agree with their opinions about what you say and do. But you'll pay attention because they have your best interest at heart.

So let me rip off that bandaid: You don't have to assume what strangers, casual acquaintances, neighbors, estranged family members, ex-boyfriends, and social media followers think about you. You can let go of the opinions of all the people who no longer matter to you and those who never really did. When you catch yourself focusing on what people think about you or your decisions and dreams, ask yourself, "Who" are they, and do they matter to me?"

Final thoughts

All I can say is wow! Jane provides some powerful insights in her words! How many of us waste our time and our life worrying about what other people think of us? While most people do to some degree, as Jane points out, many of those opinions should be irrelevant, with a few exceptions.

"Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner." Lao Tzu (~571 BC)

If you have long carried the assumption that what everyone else thinks about you matters, it is time to put it down and leave that burden behind. Think of the freedom you receive when you do this! As Jane often says, "now that leads to a good life!"

Take to heart the wisdom of this well-known psychotherapist, and receive the freedom you deserve in life:

"What other people think of us usually has very little to do with who we are. It has a lot more to do with the other individuals' issues-their prejudices, their fears, and projections. So it is a waste of time to constantly try to impress or please others." Beverly Engel (1947-present)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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