“What other people think about me is none of my business”


This is an increasingly common phrase that seeks to help people who feel insecure or have low self esteem. But I don’t understand how it applies at all. A large proportion of what we do is aligned with the societal paradigm for our own survival. What others think of us is of upmost importance because if they think of us in a certain way, it may lead them to destructive actions against us. What other people think of me is important for my very survival. Can someone help me understand this phrase in the way it’s meant to be understood? Thanks!

In: 10

A large part of it is to help people with anxiety I suspect. Because they over-criticize themselves based on what they think people think.

More practically, doing things that society does not accept, like choosing an anti‐capitalistic lifestyle, transitioning gender, being polygamous all invite a lot of negative social attention. And the phrase helps you remember that they don’t matter in living your best life.

It’s pointless worrying about things you cannot control until they present an imminent problem.

So being concerned of what other people think of you is wasted energy. There are far too many people for anything constructive to come from such thinking.

As a wise person once said though, if you ever succeed in ridding yourself of such worries completely, please tell me how too.

This is how I interpret it.

Being somewhat aware of what other people think of you, is not necessarily bad. But if you have low-selfesteem, you can overthink everything. Value other’s opinions more than your own and spiral down into negative speculations about what other people are thinking about you.

You planned to meet up with some friends. You start to wonder if maybe they just invited you because you were there when they were inviting people and they didn’t want to be rude, so they invited you too. But it’s not like they actually invite you because they like you.

You like a certain pair of pants, you think they look really cool. But the pipes are really wide. You suddenly start to think that other people will think it looks ugly or think you are trying too hard to make some fashion statement, which makes you seem pretentious. So you end up too self conscious to wear those pants you like and just go with the most regular plain normal looking jeans.

Someone mails you at work ” You forgot to add the attachments.” You immediately read the mail in an annoyed-tone. Thinking the person on the other side must think you’re an incompetent idiot.

Etc etc

If all you do is speculate about what other people might think of you. And generally assume the worst, that nobody really likes you, that they all think you’re annoying or incompetent etc. That is really bad for your mental health.

So for people who have this very uncertain and negative voice constantly in their head, it’s really good to stop yourself from speculating non-stop. Telling yourself that what others think is their own business, not yours. You shouldn’t start assuming things.

Hope this helped. (I assume there might be more ways than this to interpret that statement)

Its a polarizing phrase. You can still care about what people think, and not be anxious about it. Its about balance.

That phrase sounds like a child that plays with his friends, and someone steals their toy, and the child goes “well now im not playing at all!”.

Its ok to engage in and allow criticism, just be your own person and decide which criticism is useful and which isnt.

But 99.9% of the time it won’t, which is why it’s a useful phrase. It liberates you from anxiety that otherwise impacts your confidence to pursue what you wish.