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Why It's None of Your Business What Others Think of You

Photo Credit: Dayne Topkin

When I first heard the saying, “It's none of your business what other people think of you”, I had no idea what that meant. I seriously couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Every time I thought about that saying, it just baffled me.

I now know it baffled me because of my codependence, which meant I was super focused on what others thought of me. That was outside my awareness though, which explains why this statement was so baffling. 

Early in my recovery, I heard a speaker say, “It's none of your business what other people think of you. What is your business is what you think of you.” WOW!! That was mind-boggling. I hadn’t really considered what I thought of myself. 

This was one of many things in recovery that helped me understand that I was so focused on others’ opinions of me and getting their approval. I had no idea that was true about me. In fact, when I first heard the term “people-pleaser” I didn’t think it referred to me. For an introspective person who’s been on a personal growth journey since age 24, that’s pretty astonishing, but oh so true!

Being so focused on getting others’ approval meant that if there was the slightest hint I didn’t have someone’s approval, I made it mean that there was something bad or wrong with me. Then I’d make it my mission to try to get them to approve of me.

Sound familiar? If that’s you, perhaps you bend over backwards for others, or try to pretend you like things that you don't. Or instead, you may try to make that person wrong or bad in your mind. We do all these things because we care more about what they think about us than what we think about us. 

Here are a couple of examples of how to shift your thinking on this from Brooke Castillo of the Life Coach School. The first such shift we’ll call “The Peach.” Let’s say you're a peach, and someone bites into you, and they don't like you because they don't like peaches. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you as the peach, or that there's anything wrong with them. They just don't like peaches. No value judgment. 

It’s easy to understand and buy into this concept when we're talking about peaches, but when someone doesn't like us as a person, we take that sooo personally. Think of yourself like this: I’m a peach – and some people just don’t like peaches. That’s it. It doesn’t need to mean anything more than that.

Brooke’s second mindset shift we’ll call “The Constant.” Let's say you walk into a room with ten people. If what you did and said were the only factors influencing what they think of you, then all ten of those people would think the exact same thing of you. But that’s not how it works. Every person is going to have a different opinion of you. 

You’re the same you. You’re the constant. But their opinions are based on their life experience, especially their perception, which is always individualized and subjective. Perhaps you remind them of a former colleague they loved, so they feel good toward you. Or perhaps you remind them of a former teacher who humiliated them so they take an extreme dislike of you. The possibilities are endless. The point is that very little of how people respond to you has to do with you. It has much more to do with them. Otherwise, everyone would have the same opinion of you. 

What YOU think of yourself is so much more important and valuable than what others think. It’s fine to seek others’ approval, but only when you have your own approval first.  You have to live in your skin, in your life. They don’t.

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