You read it correctly. The title of this post was not a typo.
There’s no shortage of motivational quotes and cool guys on YouTube telling you to stop caring what other people think of you. I don’t need to tell you that, you already know ?
But an issue that is just as common, and I rarely see people talk about, is caring too much what you think of other people.
What do I mean by that?
Here are some examples…. Remember them. We’ll get back to them later in this post. (Or for my stoned readers, don’t worry, you can just scroll back ?)
You find yourself reading an article about people donating money to Kylie Jenner, and it stings you a little: “Why is that girl even famous/rich? She has no talent. I can’t stand her. I don’t like the way her sister names her babies. People are stupid. This world is getting more ridiculous every year… “
You’re at a party and this one girl/guy walks in who you really can’t stand. “Why does this person have to be here with their stupid face? You were having so much fun…. and now they come in parading themselves in front of your face on purpose to ruin your mood!”
In both cases, what’s happening is the same process:
1. You look around in the world (physically, or through your smartphone)
2. You see a person (or a type of behavior) you don’t hold a very positive opinion of
3. You feel annoyed by their existence.
I’ve been there lots of times before. I bet you have too. Now the question is:
“Why would I want to care about caring what I think about other people?”
That may not be a very nice sentence, but it is a good question?
In the case of others’ opinion about you, it’s clear why you’re better off not giving too many fucks. It’s not a good idea to look to others to validate yourself. Because the chance that it will make you feel very insecure about yourself and the things you do is pretty high… Getting that sense of assurance from yourself is clearly the wiser thing to do.
But when you look at your opinion of others, how does that affect your life?
The most obvious place to start is to look back Example 2
: the asshole at the party (stoned readers, here is your cue to scroll back up ? )
Here you have some random person that you don’t like. And you’re giving them the power to take your happiness away merely by showing up.
Read that again and ask yourself:
Why would you want that?
The conventional reaction to a situation like that is to think “Why can’t this person just be smarter/nicer to me?”
I’ve asked myself that question lots of times (especially when dealing with bureaucrats). But the truth is: It’s a useless thought to have. Other people aren’t gonna change for you. But you can change how you react.
It’s easiest to be happy when your source of happiness comes from inside. Which is exactly why people give you the advice of not caring about others’ opinions. But if you do the opposite and let your happiness depend on whether you approve of the world outside you or not, you won’t be very happy either.
So a better question to ask yourself is:
Why do I choose to let this person or their behavior impact my happiness?
Usually there actually is a reason why you’re doing it. It’s something you are avoiding about yourself. And these people are great pointers to find out what it is.
For most of my life I held the belief that people who couldn’t make reasonable exceptions to rules were brainwashed inhuman robots that couldn’t think for themselves. I got super annoyed whenever I ran into these people.
But of course that was just because I couldn’t admit that I needed more authority and structure in my life.
That doesn’t mean I was wrong about the fact that their reasoning didn’t make sense. But interestingly, now that I’ve cultivated strong structure and discipline in my life, they just don’t annoy me anymore.
They have a different way of looking at the world than me. So what? The most important thing is that their life-philosophy works for them, not that it’s the same as mine ?
When you look around on Facebook, it’s very easy to spot these things in other people’s “rants” and “outrages”.
• Guy who rants about narcissistic selfie culture? Textbook narcissist (with a lot of selfies on his profile).
• Angry dude ranting about immigrants receiving benefits from our tax money? Usually doesn’t contribute a lot to our society himself.
• Girl slut shaming other women behind their back? Very sexually repressed, jealous that she can’t be more free to explore that side of herself.
• Guy writing a blog post about these people: Actually worse than them ?
Even the Kylie Jenner thing everyone was complaining about lately: it’s a funny thing that you should care. Because she has no impact on any of our lives whatsoever. But the truth is most people who do so are just offended because they think it’s unfair and that she doesn’t “deserve” the money. Deep down, that’s why it bugs them.
But there’s also a kid in India working twice as many hours as those people while earning 20 times less. To that kid, we must all be a bit like Kylie Jenner. We don’t deserve to be this rich. We were just lucky to be born into it ?
This should give you a hint that usually the negative opinion you hold of these people is pointing towards something important.
So when you look at those things… The things people do that trigger you. The articles you read that make you mad. What do they represent in your life? What do they say about you?
Because you can’t stop those things from existing. But you can give them a positive influence on your own character. By letting them guide you to your own flaws and insecurities. Things you can work on. To become a more effective human being. And a more positive presence in other people’s lives.
And you’ll discover that once you start working on it, you won’t care about their behavior anymore either. More peace of mind for everyone 🙂