Is it Your Business What Others Think of You?

Occasionally I see a saying that seems to bring a moment of enlightenment, but the more I see it, the murkier its truth becomes. And so it is with this little gem: What others think of you is none of your business.

To a certain extent, the saying is true. You can’t live your live trying to figure out what others think of you and then work your life around their opinions. You have to consider what you think of you and live your life accordingly. This also works in reverse — what you think of someone is none of their business. So often, we feel the need to tell others what we think of them — simply to help them, of course — but if what we think of them is none of their business, we might as well keep our opinions to ourselves. (And perhaps save a friendship in the process.)

But . . . (by now, I’m sure you’ve read enough of my blog to know there is always a but somewhere in my posts.)

What a child thinks of his parents is often a key to his emotional health, so what the child thinks of his parents is definitely the parents’ business. If the child is overly attached to his parents or is angry at them for no apparent reason, the child could be having emotional problems. On the other hand, if the child is embarrassed by his parents (beyond normal bounds) or if the child finds it hard to be around them for some reason, maybe the parents are the ones with the problem.

If you are in a romantic relationship, a marriage, or some other long-term coupling, what your loved one thinks of you is definitely your business. If you think yours is a love match and the other thinks it’s a lust match, you need to know that so you can make informed decisions about your future. If your husband no longer loves you and has developed a roving eye, you certainly need to know how he feels about you so you take appropriate actions, such as getting couple’s therapy. (Unless, of course, you prefer not knowing.) If you’re in a relationship and are ready “for the next level” (whatever that is), and your partner in the relationship wants only your money, you need to know the truth before things go to far.

And of course, if your neighbor hates you enough to want to kill you, that most certainly is your business.

There must be many other examples where this particular saying doesn’t pertain, but you get the point: sometimes a clever message is simply clever and not a great truth.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

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10 Responses to “Is it Your Business What Others Think of You?”

  1. Aaron Paul Lazar Says:

    Very well said, Pat. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. ;o)

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I think every outcast in a small town where the people are pressured to conform to a certain standard (like perhaps being a good fundamentalist Christian) should see that saying. It’ll help them feel less like an outcast and more like an individual.

  3. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    I have a book that is now out of print. It is called “What you think of me is none of my business”. It is a great book in that it reminds us that what someone else thinks of us is really only about what they think of themselves and project onto us.

  4. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I look forward to living some day in a small town where everyone knows everyone. Where I live right now no one knows anyone and it is easy to feel lost.

  5. Rose Chimera Says:

    I often pretend to not care what others think of me. But I don’t fool myself. I care. Sometimes too much. However, what I’ve learned is to pick and choose carefully people that I do care about what they think. Otherwise it becomes complicated and I spend entirely too much energy WASTED energy on wondering why this person or that person thinks what they think. After they were kind enough to share with me their thoughts. Then I guess it somewhat becomes my business. Or at least they wanted it to become my business. Its usually negative thoughts about me they share. To “consider the source” is something I struggle with. I force myself to have an internal dialog and tell myself, “they are not going to impact my day!” It doesn’t work as often as I need it to, but I work at it.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      If a person is important in your life, it’s natural to care what they think. If they’re not important, it shouldn’t matter, though it often does. It’s something we all struggle with. Thank you for your contribution to this discussion. You’ve given me much to think about.

  6. Gossip: Healthy or Destructive? | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] what other people think of me. (Strange. I just realized that once I took the opposite tack, that it is my business.) In fact, after one lunch — yep, we often exercised then went to lunch afterward to replace […]


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