What Other People Think Of You Is None Of Your Business

April 1, 2013



What other people think of you is none of your business

It was a forward entitled “Things to Keep in Mind for a Great New Year.” It was another January email trying to remind me how wonderful my life could be, if I just kept these few things in mind. I quickly scanned through the list, full of cutesy one liners and platitudes. Then there it was, number twelve.  

What other people think of you is none of your business.  

It hit me like a ton of bricks.  Huh. 

The thought was so foreign to me.  

Certainly I had a right to know what other people thought about me and, of course, I cared what those thoughts were. Isn’t that how we define ourselves, based on what other people think of us? 

Isn’t that what motivates us to get dressed in the morning and brush our teeth? How is it that what other people think of me could be none of my business? Do I not have proprietary rights over thoughts about me?

I was brought up in an era of dressing for company and putting your best foot forward. I was taught to make eye contact, say hello, please and thank you when interacting with others, even strangers. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was rude. 

My mother always made sure that we were the first people up after dinner at a friend’s to clear the table and our house was neat, in case someone stopped by. I mean, what would they think of us if the beds were unmade? 

Would thoughts that I was a lazy slob be none of my business? 

I like to say that I don’t care what other people think, that at my age I am beyond that, but it turns out, subconsciously at least, I’ve spent the better part of my life wondering, what do people think of me?  I’m not in high school anymore and yet insecurity still manages to creep in.  

The minefields are everywhere.

“Gee, I hope they like my outfit, I hope my roots aren’t showing and I hope I didn’t say anything inappropriate.” 

Then there are the times I find myself apologizing for things I adore, in case they don’t measure up in someone else’s mind.  It’s like I am trying to justify to others why I chose what I did, so they can have all the facts before they judge me. 

I’ll say, “We absolutely love the house, it’s perfect for us, I know it’s a little small, but it really is charming and the beach is so close,” or “I really did choose the laminate countertops on purpose.  Granite just wasn’t giving me the feel I was looking for, too shiny.”

Red and white kitchen
My granite-less kitchen

Why do I do that?  

Why do I always have to footnote my behavior and are all these explanations really changing anyone’s mind about my d├ęcor or my financial situation or whether or not I’m a good person?  

Probably not and more importantly, why do I care?  

I like my stuff, I am very confident in my choices and frankly, I think I’m a pretty decent person. I’m surrounded by amazing people; I must be doing something right.  

I've been reading number twelve over and over again. I'm beginning to like it, to feel it and to embrace it. It is a very powerful statement. It is very freeing. 

When you stop looking to everyone else for approval and start trusting your own instincts, you begin to live a more authentic life. You can’t do that if you are worried about what ideas people are going to formulate about you in the process. 

Years ago, my mom gave me some advice. She told me that at the end of the day, you have to be able to put your head down on your pillow and know that your choices and your behavior will be judged well by your conscience and your god, don’t worry about others.  

I have tried to live my life that way and I think it has served me well.  

However, I am sure that there are people out there that don’t like my house, don’t like my behavior and just don’t like me and while that may be disappointing and frustrating to the gregarious people pleaser (and decorator) in me, you know what?

It really is none of my business.


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37 comments:

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    1. Thanks for leaving a comment! I love getting feedback!

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  2. If people don't like you that's there problem, capisce??
    And I can't imagine people don't like you or your house!

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    1. Ooooh- I love that feisty attitude and thank you for the compliment!

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  3. well said Kim!!! And I looove your kitchen!

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    1. Thanks Vel and even though it's none of my business, it's always nice to hear! ;)

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  4. I love this - so muuch good stuff to think about.

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    1. Thank you Sarah! I'm glad you liked it!

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  5. This is sooo true. Yet what makes this so difficult is that we constantly hear petty people criticizing others, for example how they look, what they wear, what they say, what they do. I try hard not to think about what others think of me, but it's tough. I guess it boils down to having confidence in yourself and as your mother said, trusting your instincts. Great post.

    Suzanne @ www.timessquared.net/blog.html

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    1. Yes, Suzanne, I totally agree. Petty people are hard to ignore, no matter how confident you are and no matter how old you get. I guess that's why this quote resonated with me so much. Thanks for taking the time to read it!

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  6. Funny, these people are agreeing with you, then telling you what they think of you. I thought they just agreed it wasn't your business!

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    1. That is funny Alexis! Very insightful observation...not that it's any of my business ;) I love it though, I was hoping to make people think with this post. I appreciate your comment.

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  7. Hi Kim...I just found your blog from our friend Lois over at Living Simply Free. I had to comment because this is one of my very favorite topics and I find it is the sort of thing that I need to be reminded of over and over again...Did you know there is actually a book out there on this topic "What you think of me is none of my business?" We aren't the only ones! And yes, my husband and I "right-sized" our home (that's our new name for down-sizing ) and I too find myself occasionally wanting to offer explanation for why we moved from a much bigger house to the one where we live now--which is silly because I ADORE my new house so much more than the other. Anyway, in case anyone is interested and wants more on the subject here is a link to my blog post of the same name... http://smartliving365.com/what-you-think-about-me-is-none-of-my-business/ Thanks for the reminders~Kathy

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    1. Hello Kathy,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my post. It really is one of my favorites and even though I never promote it, it is always in my sidebar as one of my most popular pieces. I guess the sentiment resonates with a lot of people. I was unaware of the book, I will have to look it up for sure! I read your post, it is excellent. It is hard to stay the course, no matter how indifferent we claim to be, somehow the need to be judged in a positive manner (positive by whose definition?) can creep back in and pull us off course again. I love your comment about following your own North Star! I am going to keep that in mind and post it on my fridge to keep me steadfast on my own path!

      A pleasure meeting you, Kathy, I'm so glad you stopped by and I am really looking forward to becoming better acquainted with your blog and reading your posts!

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  8. Need that one! Thanks.
    I have a sign that says "It Is What It Is...BUT It Will Become What You Make It!"
    Thanks for such a helpful non-judgemental (read: easy and uncomplicated DIY) site! It allows me to give myself permission to not be a perfectionist and always think stuff has to be amazing!
    Visiting from www.Itsomuchfunwatchingod.blogspot.com

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    1. Ok Nancy, according to my post, I am not supposed to care what others think of me, BUT...your comment just made my day! I am really trying to inspire people to find the little things in their everyday surroundings that bring them joy and that it doesn't need to be big or complicated. It can be a child's smile, a sunset or a very, simple, doable DIY project....and, you're right, the product does not have to be perfect to be wonderful! I am so excited my blog is "reading" that way! :) Thank you!

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  9. Thank you for the post. I first saw this quote few months ago, but I was searching on it today because I couldn't remember who said it. I had the same reaction the first time I read it. I have tried using the statement like a silent mantra, to keep me on track. But, it's so easy to forget. I am so glad to have found your blog, and I have subscribed. I look forward to reading more posts.

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    1. Eleanor, thank you so much for your nice comment and for following along ~ you just made my day! It is a great quote, very true and yet it is so hard to not care about what others think. Some days I am better with it than others! :) I like the silent mantra idea!

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  10. Kim M you are hysterical! I love your argument about, "You have proprietary rights over thoughts about you!" Priceless! Your mom is a very wise person. It really boils down to how you live your life and not being concerned about what others think! I love this post Kim M. Very well written!

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    1. Thanks so much Johnnie! You are right, my mother is a very wise person...I wish I could say that I am always good about not caring, but I would be lying. I do seem to be getting better about it as I get older! :)

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  11. It's so hard to remember that you don't need to measure up. You need to just do your best and leave the rest.

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    1. Very true, Sara! You think that by now, at middle age, I would have this one down! ;)

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  12. Love the sign "It is what it is"!!! Need one for my kitchen!

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    1. The sentiment is simple but true, Michele...hard to accept sometimes, but true!

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  13. Oh I really like this! I think there are extremes both ways though. As a kid I always told myself I didn't care what others thought of me because it shouldn't matter, but it was really just low self esteem talking. Now I truly don't care what others are thinking of me, but because of one man (my husband) I care about what I think of me. And that made all the difference.

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  14. Don't know or remember, how I stumbled my way here...but so glad I did! This is a great post! The best thing you can do for yourself, is to make sure you put your best foot forward, and not worry what others think. My mom taught me that...and she's 94...so I think she knows a thing or two! Enjoy your day! ;)

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    1. I am so glad that you stumbled upon my blog, Donnamae...and you're right, at 94 I think your mom knows plenty! :)

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  15. GREAT article!! I've never really cared what people thought of me, take me as I am or move on. Now don't get me wrong, I want people to like me because I like people and I'm very social. But I can't change who I am so that they will like me. If I do that, then who am I? I'm so glad I found your blog today!! Have a great evening! PS...love your kitchen!

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    1. Thank you, Benita! I agree, I am social as well and enjoy people, but I fret much less now, in middle age (!) about what others think of me than I did before.

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  16. your mom is right. Whatever lets you sleep at night.

    I am quietly awed at people who are willing to share their whole home with the internet out there.
    I am comfortable with a corner or two of ours on my blog.

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    1. I think that everyone has to do what sits right with them. At first I was hesitant about posting my home, but not anymore. It's all out there in old real estate listings, etc. It's amazing what you can find on the internet. I am more in awe of people that put their names on their blogs and their locations. However, all that information is out there anyway, I suppose. I thought about it a lot when I first started blogging. Not as much anymore...I think I've blocked it out! ;-)

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    2. yes, the real estate pictures are out there. But I suspect our Porterville home is slightly changed - we can see from Google Earth that they have built the HUGE orchid house they planned, where we had a row of apple trees. I describe our current house vaguely as on False Bay - but anyone who wanted to, could find it.

      Using my real name on my blog began when Google was using Authorship (giving us a thumbnail image when our blog post came up on Google Search). Google has abandoned that idea, but my name and face are still on my blog!

      With all the issues around privacy and data, I prefer to be proactive and put what I am comfortable with sharing Out There To Be Found. But it remains a weird feeeling.

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    3. I agree, Diana. It is a weird feeling, indeed. I have a post of privacy in my drafts, I think about it that much! One of these days, maybe I’ll hit publish! ;) Thanks for the interesting discussion.

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  17. You are certainly more than a decent person. I try not to care what others think, but I am still quite insecure. Not in a teenager way either, but in the people pleaser way. There is a group of moms at my daughter's school that gossip about me. I know they do. In a very teenager way as well. One will look at me, whisper to another mom, and then, they look back at me. It hurts. I don't conform to their stylish ways, I'm sickly thin, but only temporarily as I finish the garden. It's sooo hard not to care when all you want is peace and for others to like you. I'm not social at all. That's just not me. Maybe they think I'm a snob? Oh well. I will try to remember this. Thank you Kimmie. xo Jen

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    1. Oh Jen, make no mistake, I struggle with this every day. I try to keep it in the front of the brain, but it's hard not to be affected by unkind words or looks. I am so glad you enjoyed the post and it touched you in some way. That always makes me smile! :)

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  18. The one thing I learned you have to live for yourself and not for others. If you have people in your life that are constantly petty and full of judgement on how people live their life, how they look, who they date/marry, etc..... it is time to keep your distance. I have had plenty of people like this in my life and I had to LC(light contact) with some and NC(no contact)with others. You are not obligated to be around these people, especially if they make you feel bad, lousy, sad, etc. Only YOU knows what is right for you.....not anyone else.

    That being said you have a nice blog, I enjoyed your articles. First time visiter.

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    1. Totally agree, excellent advice!! Thank you so much for adding your thoughts and I am so glad you enjoyed your time here! :)

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