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+