I like to be a bit of a contrarian, and challenge conventional wisdom.

And one of the ideas that annoys me the most is the notion that you shouldn’t care what others think.

If you’ve spent any time of the internet, perusing self-development or personal growth websites, you’ve probably come across this idea multiple times.

I personally see it over and over and over again.

And I see lots of people readily agreeing with the idea.

A quick Google search turns up articles with titles such as the following:

  • 10 Clear Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Care What Others Think
  • Why You Need to Stop Caring What Others Think
  • How Not to Care What Other People Think: 5 Steps

I think it’s well past time to fight back against this awful notion.

So today I lay down the gauntlet!

And give you…

what will your legacy be

5 Reasons Why You SHOULD Care What Others Think

1. People who don’t care what others think are generally awful human beings

There’s a type of person who NEVER cares what others think.

Ever.

  • They don’t care what others think.
  • They don’t care about other people’s feelings.
  • They don’t care how they treat other people.
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Do you know what we call those types of people?

Sociopaths.

Is that what you aspire to be?

A sociopath.

I certainly hope not.

And yet that’s all these websites urging you not to care what others think want you to become.

2. Caring what others think can make you a better person

Guess what?I care what my wife thinks of me.I care what my parents think of me.I care what my sisters think of me.I care what my friends think of me.And most importantly, I care what my nieces and nephews think of me.I love my nieces and nephews dearly and I want these precious little children to think well of me.And it would tear me apart inside if I did anything that made them think less of me.Their opinion of me matters a lot to me.And that makes me a strive to be a better person.
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3. You’re not the center of the universe (and neither am I!)

The idea that you shouldn’t care what others think is rooted in the dangerous notion that your wants and needs are more important than those of other people.And I’m here to tell you that they’re not!Yes, you matter!You matter a lot!But so do I.And so do all the other people in the world.Would you really want to live in a world in which no one cared what others thought?I know I wouldn’t.I want to live in a world where we DO care what others think because we recognize that others matter just as much as us.

4. You miss the chance for valuable feedback

As Lori Deschene from Tiny Buddha says in this excellent article:
If we decide to stop caring in all instances that might push and challenge us, we risk closing ourselves off to insights, relationships, and ideas that could change our lives for the better—and potentially do the same for others.
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5. We should treat others how we want to be treated

Think about this.

Imagine that you express your opinion to someone.

And they respond by telling you “I don’t care what you think”.

How would you feel?

Loved?

Cared for?

Valued?

Accepted?

Probably not.

In fact, you’d probably feel pretty lousy.

So if that’s how you’d feel, why would you want to do that to someone else?

If we’re going to be honest here, the whole “you shouldn’t care what others think” idea is an excuse.

An excuse to treat others poorly and not take responsibility for your words or actions.

You Don’t Need to Care What Others Think All The Time

Caring what others think doesn’t mean that you need to care what every person thinks of you in every single situation.

You need to pick and choose.

For example, I do my best to dress nicely but honestly I don’t care that much.

It’s just not that important to me.

I learned long ago that I have limited fashion sense and that’s unlikely to change.

So I really don’t care what others think of how I dress myself.

I do my best and let it go.

On the other hand, I do care how my words affect other people and I try my best not to say things that might hurt someone else’s feelings.

And when I do, I have no problem saying I’m sorry.

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You also need to decide how much weight you give to what others think.

Caring what others think doesn’t mean that they have the final say in your life.

It simply means that we take what others think into account as we navigate through life.

But the final decisions for how to live our lives still rest with us.

What you DON’T want to do is let what others think of you fundamentally change who you are or severely limit your life in any way.

In the end, it’s not about whether you do or do not care what others think.

It’s about whose opinion matters to you and in what situations.

And how much weight you give to what other people think.


So there you have it…

5 reasons why you should care what others think.

Please comment below and let me know what YOU think.

Agree or disagree?

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Bravo, Ed! The popular wisdom out there is often pretty simple-minded, and I am glad you are contrarian enough to take it to task – especially since there is the real possibility that people might follow simple-minded advice in a simple-minded way.

    The truth is always far more complicated than most internet advice-givers say: the “right” behaviour depends on the circumstances, on it’s degree or extremity, and other qualifiers. In fact, social scientists enjoy the qualifiers more than they enjoy “the rules.” I see the trend towards preferring simple, black and white positions (like Donald Trump does) as evidence for the dumbing down of our culture. Complex thinking takes effort, and it is certainly not promoted nowadays in the media, church or classroom.

    May I repost on my own blog site?

    1. Very well put Adele! I tend to read a lot of Buddhism which promotes “the middle way”. So while I promoted the idea of caring what others think, I wanted to also balance it with the fact that we don’t always need to care about what others think. We often get stuck in either/or thinking when often the “truth” is both/and.

    2. Brilliantly put Ed. An important counter opinion and discussion in a sea of voices agreeing otherwise. The Hawaiian language has a word that encapsulates the concept of taking full responsibility for ones actions ‘kuleana’ – I believe this ancient Hawaiian principle is aligned with your 5 reasons to care what others think; doing so requiring our full presence and full accountability. I love that you also hit on the valuable idea that we ought to reflect on when and why to care what others think as a point of self inquiry and growth, reclaiming our personal power rather than the popular belief that caring what others think is a form of giving away our power. Transforming our relationship to reflection and healthy atachments can infact be very empowering!

      Thanks for sharing your insights. The more controversial, the more interesting…..aloha 🙏

      1. Thanks Kait, I appreciate your kind words! Personally, I wouldn’t want to live in a world in which people were completely dismissive of others’ thoughts, opinion, and feelings. What an ugly world that would be!

  2. Totally agree with you, loved this article. I too have been amazed at some of the things that I have read lately about not caring about what others think. I guess you could care too much and that could be a hinderance, I believe in respecting others and treating others with kindness. How do we get accepted for a job if we just rock up dressed how ever we like? Respect is earned and it goes along way to being successful in this life.

    1. Thanks Annette! Appreciate your positive comment!

  3. Same here. Well put about our neices,nephews etc. As humans we are setting examples to the younger generation I am a 40 year old women. I truly feel that I have been blessed in my life and always put myself in some one elses shoes before I speak. I always think how my actions can affect those around me. That action we chose when we did not care what others thought certainly can affect where we are 10 years later. And yes still try to be true to the real you inside while respecting others around you! Thanks for the not so selfish advice that this younger generation could use.

    1. Thanks for your supportive comment Katie!!!

  4. I personally believe the basis of the advise given is dont care about what people think but rather care about what you think?Because that allows you to honour the values which you have and leave by thus leaving a purposeful life.One should care more about what they think of themselves as we all have an internal compass that acts a a compass that guards our actions,this is the compass that should tell us how well we are doing relative to our purpose not someone elses purpose.Once you lose your ability to follow your own internal guide on values,you will be lost for generations and contributing nothing of your blueprint to the world.

    1. Thanks for your comment! You make some excellent point! I do see, however, lots of people using “don’t care what other people think” as an excuse for treating other people poorly. So I think there needs to be a balance. You are absolutely right about paying attention to your own inner guidance. But that inner guidance needs to be grounded in a foundation of wanting to treat others well.

  5. I always respond “I care what others think of me” and my friends are totally against. I care because whatever I say or do, will make an impact on my children or husbands life in the future. I am a good person, I wake up and push myself to be a better person than I was before (I am not perfect) I have rules like: dont talk trash about others who are not present, don’t talk about other people’s children, if you have nothing constructive to say about someone better keep my mouth quiet, etc. But I never knew how to express these words on “Why I care what others think of me” and I thank this article because now I know how to respond .

    1. Thank you Nadia! I’m glad that you found my article helpful!

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