Why do we care what other people think? I’ve read recently that humans need community. We need each other to create our understanding of reality. But I’ve found that if we pay too much attention to what other people think, then we stop being able to think for ourselves. We stop being able to act too.
Say I’m at work. A lady gets upset that I’m smiling. She thinks that I’m making fun of her, that I’m smirking. Then I’ll make a point of not smiling, and another person thinks I’m not being friendly enough. It is healthier for my soul to just do whatever I’m going to do and let them deal with their issues themselves. Otherwise I’m constantly second guessing myself.
I try to adapt myself to other people. I think it is kind to adjust myself so I’m at eye height to them, or that I know enough about their reading interests that I can suggest something for them to read when they ask. Remember how the apostle Paul tells us we must be all things to all people? Yeah. That.
But there is a big difference in being accommodating and being a doormat.
And there is something very dangerous in letting someone else shape your behavior. When you do, you are giving up your autonomy. You are giving up control. You are letting someone else tell you how to live your life.
I have a friend who was told that he would amount to nothing, that all he was good for was factory work. He was told this by an authority figure at school. Fortunately he had a strong mother who told him a different story. He is soon to graduate as a social worker.
Imagine the loss to our world if he had listened to that negative person.
We are often told that we aren’t good enough, that we can’t do something, or that we should give up or never even start. The secret is that other people are mirrors of you. If someone is telling you that, it is their own fear of failure they are pushing onto you.
Don’t take it. It isn’t healthy.
Think of this. Use “you can’t do that” as a dare, as a springboard. Use it as a sign that you are on the right path. There is something you are about to do that frightens them, because they think they can’t do it. But they aren’t you. Prove that person wrong. Do it instead of them. Do it because of them. But just do it.
And forget about what they think. They don’t know anything anyway.