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How Can You Not Care What Others Think?

Updated on February 5, 2013

Fact: Perception Wins Over Reality Every Time

There was a time when I was younger I didn't care what others thought of me. I went my own way and couldn't care less. I didn't care to win the approval of my fellow adolescents. I had a sense of fashion that could be described as throwing cloth on me and hoping it somehow works. I certainly didn't care what exploits my High School was achieving - whether it's scholastics, athletics, art, etc. I was definitely a lone ranger then and today that still hasn't changed. . .

However, what has changed is I must confess that I do care what others think of me, and perhaps I care far too much. . . A part of me asks; how exactly someone cannot care what others think of them? Especially considering the consequences just one false judgement or interpretation can bring.

When I was young, I cared little for thoughts, what mattered to me were facts. As I've grown older, I've come to the realization there's a fact that supersedes all other facts. That fact is that human perception wins over reality every single time. That is in fact a matter of fact! For people who choose not to care what others think, they would do well to heed their understanding of this human nature. To naively ignore this human nature could very well lead to their downfall. . .

Take for example the world of work. Experience has shown me that performance matters little. What does matter is what the boss thinks of you. Experience has shown me that what my boss thinks and what my performance indicates are often separate and distinct. Historically it's always followed the same pattern: Exemplary performance on paper, but if you were to talk to my boss, they would indicate I'm an average at best employee and at worst a liability risk. The boss is completely wrong, perhaps he/she is even jealous, petty, corrupt, etc. but at the end of the day it doesn't matter. . . The perception is that I'm a lousy employee; therefore I'm a lousy employee. If the perception is that I'm a lousy employee, I will get fired, regardless of performance.

Start your own business to get around this problem you say? I've taken that angle as well. Let's just say, if you want to go your own way and not care what others think, the last thing you should do is start your own business. Think about it, your very job description is to market a product to people. Analyzing what people think and want is what you're all about; otherwise you'll be out of business. I will go on to say that borderline paranoia is required to succeed in the business world. The fact of the matter is you could design perhaps one of the most innovative and practically useful products for the advancement of mankind, but if that same mankind thinks the products sucks - it sucks. On the other hand, you could develop something stupid like bottled water, but if meets the approval of everyone else but yourself - you're successful. Honestly, business sounds like a random crapshoot to the logical mind, unless you take the position of a mad scientist and deeply obsessively probe what others are thinking. Long story short, your business could be the healthiest idea in the world, but if nobody likes the taste you're out of business.

Now let's take a look at your community. If the entire town thinks you're the village idiot; you're the village idiot. You may have an I.Q of 145, but in the end it doesn't matter. They may think you're the village idiot because you're a bit grumpy, you haven't slept, and you're always locking yourself up in the basement. Gossip is going around that you're just anti-social or perhaps half brain dead because you've set up a meth lab. Now of course they don't see you working diligently writing that creative novel and perhaps indeed you shouldn't care, until you realize we live in a world where privacy is non-existent, and the citizenry seems to take pleasure in reporting anyone who looks weird or "suspicious" to the authorities. We've got numerous phone numbers to more security agencies than the fingers on both my hands that the public can use to rattle anyone with little to no consequences for themselves. While it's unlikely you'll get arrested for just being weird, if you're viewed as that strange person in the neighbourhood, be prepared to get constantly harassed by numerous community "outreach groups". Eventually, after your fifth visit by the Jehovah witnesses, perhaps you'll come to the conclusion that now might be a good time to care what others are thinking of you. . .

And last but not least, let's say for example you're accused of a crime you didn't commit. The case is based off mostly circumstantial evidence and the truth of the matter is you're the only suspect because the police we're too lazy to find another. If you make an announcement to the court that you "don't care what other people think," they'll mark it up as a full confession. I would go on to say a statement on your part is unnecessary. If the court merely suspects you're the type of person that tends to not care what others (in particular people of authority) think - that's enough to at least throw you into a mental institution.

So, as much as I would like to not care what others think; I must ask how can you not care what others think?!

-Donovan D. Westhaver


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    • DonDWest profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


      Perhaps you're now finally at a time in life when you can "afford" to think independently. If you've accumulated enough assets and have a decent "cushion," you're less likely to have to tolerate a job that kills independent thinking.

      In my teens I was much more rebellious. Peer pressure was a foreign concept for me. The consequences for independent thinking we're not as great at that time period. Sure, a few kids might make fun of you and the occasional teacher that hates your guts may fail you in a class, but at the end of the day, my basic needs were (although at times reluctantly) provided by my parents as backup.

      However, once you enter your 20's, all I can say is try to be independent thinker in an entry level job and see how far that gets you. . . The only way out of that entry level job is to meet a series of compliance metrics. It's a bind a lot of us can never seemingly escape. Try and change it? Good luck, the moment you decide to use one brain cell of independent thought, you'll get thrown the labels that you're entitled, lazy, not a team player, etc.

      Now, don't even get me started how because I don't have a college degree I'm considered unqualified to think for myself, and I must always ask someone of "higher status" to get the "green light" to do, well, anything and stuff I already know. . .

      Now that I'm age 31, I've come to the conclusion that I should have spent my 20's simply following orders, no matter how stupid, and work as many mindless jobs as possible in attempts to accumulate as much cash as possible. Independence and leadership in your 20's? Not going to happen - nobody treats you seriously.

      I'm now at a stage in my life were I feel I have to pay a "life tax" of compliance in order to get what I want later. It's not particularly pleasant and yes it's forced on me, but at this point it seems necessary. . . Freedom isn’t a right, neither is it earned, in today’s society it’s “purchased”. . .

      "I understand and empathize the need for others to conform and therefore I respect other humans."

      I suppose this is where I struggle the most, I can't see how that can be done unless you conceal your opinions from others. And if you're keeping your independent mind to yourself; are you truly independent? I would go on to say keeping your thoughts to yourself in order to respect others fits the definition of conformity.

    • ALUR profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Very good insight and information, however I do not as of late care at all what others think of me. Ironically, it has been the aging process and much pain that has let go of the EGO that requires others approval. I'll tell you that to do so requires not only confidence but courage. Now, believe me though I do not "care", I also do not flaunt or frighten people with my poetic/dramatic side. I understand and empathize the need for others to conform and therefore I respect other humans. That does not mean however that I will be among their cliques or follow their mode of thinking: I simply am content to be vibrant and different. My children are learning independent thinking from this courage and hopefully they will be their own guides/leaders in a tumultuous life ahead...


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