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Why You SHOULD Care What Others Think

I like to be a bit of a contrarian. And one of the ideas that annoys me the most is the notion that you shouldn’t care what others think of you.

If you’ve spent any time of the internet, perusing self-development or personal growth websites, you’ve probably come across this idea multiple times. I personally see it over and over and over again. And I see lots of people readily agreeing with the idea.

A quick google search turns up articles with titles such as the following:

  • 10 Clear Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Care What Others Think
  • Why You Need to Stop Caring What Others Think
  • How Not to Care What Other People Think: 5 Steps

I think it’s well past time to fight back against this awful notion. So today I lay down the gauntlet!

Reasons Why You Should Care What Others Think

1. People who don’t care what others think are generally awful human beings

There’s a word for people who don’t care what others think. Do you know what it is?

Sociopath.

Is that what you aspire to be? A sociopath. I certainly hope not.

And yet that’s all these websites urging you not to care what others think want you to become. A sociopath.

Or how about a real life example, someone who’s been in the news a lot recently, someone who truly doesn’t care what others think of him.

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is quite frankly an awful person and the main reason why he’s an awful person is because he doesn’t care what others think of him.

2. Caring what others think makes you a better person

Guess what? I care what my wife thinks of me. I care what my parents think of me. I care what my sisters think of me. I care what my friends think of me.

And most importantly, I care what my nieces and nephews think of me. It would tear me apart inside if I did anything that made them think less of me.

I love my nieces and nephews dearly and I want these precious little children to think well of me. Their opinion of me matters a lot to me. And that makes me a better person.

3. You’re not the center of the universe (and neither am I!)

The idea that you shouldn’t care what others think is rooted in the dangerous notion that your wants and needs are more important than those of other people.

And I’m here to tell you that they’re not!

Yes, you matter! You matter a lot! But so do I. And so do all the other people in the world.

Would you really want to live in a world in which no one cared what others thought? I know I wouldn’t.

I want to live in a world where we DO care what others think because we recognize that others matter just as much as us.

4. You miss the chance for valuable feedback

As Lori Deschene from Tiny Buddha says in this excellent article:

If we decide to stop caring in all instances that might push and challenge us, we risk closing ourselves off to insights, relationships, and ideas that could change our lives for the better—and potentially do the same for others.

You Don’t Need to Care What Others Think All The Time

Caring what others think doesn’t mean that you need to care what every person thinks of you in every single situation.

You need to pick and choose.

For example, I do my best to dress nicely but honestly I don’t care that much. It’s just not that important to me. I learned long ago that I have limited fashion sense and that’s unlikely to change. So I really don’t care what others think of how I dress myself. I do my best and let it go.

On the other hand, I do care how my words affect other people and I try my best not to say things that might hurt someone else’s feelings. And when I do, I have no problem saying I’m sorry.

You also need to decide how much weight you give to what others think.

Caring what others think doesn’t mean that they have the final say in your life. It simply means that we take what others think into account as we navigate through life but that the final decisions still rest with us.

What you DON’T want to do is let what others think of you fundamentally change who you are or severely limit your life in any way.

In the end, it’s not about whether you do or do not care what others think. It’s about whose opinion matters to you and in what situations. And how much weight you give to what other people think.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Bravo, Ed! The popular wisdom out there is often pretty simple-minded, and I am glad you are contrarian enough to take it to task – especially since there is the real possibility that people might follow simple-minded advice in a simple-minded way.

    The truth is always far more complicated than most internet advice-givers say: the “right” behaviour depends on the circumstances, on it’s degree or extremity, and other qualifiers. In fact, social scientists enjoy the qualifiers more than they enjoy “the rules.” I see the trend towards preferring simple, black and white positions (like Donald Trump does) as evidence for the dumbing down of our culture. Complex thinking takes effort, and it is certainly not promoted nowadays in the media, church or classroom.

    May I repost on my own blog site?

    1. Very well put Adele! I tend to read a lot of Buddhism which promotes “the middle way”. So while I promoted the idea of caring what others think, I wanted to also balance it with the fact that we don’t always need to care about what others think. We often get stuck in either/or thinking when often the “truth” is both/and.

  2. Totally agree with you, loved this article. I too have been amazed at some of the things that I have read lately about not caring about what others think. I guess you could care too much and that could be a hinderance, I believe in respecting others and treating others with kindness. How do we get accepted for a job if we just rock up dressed how ever we like? Respect is earned and it goes along way to being successful in this life.

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