What Other People Think

Posted: January 10, 2014 in World On The Edge

ummmmmmWe worry a lot about what other people think of us. Do they like my outfit? My hair? Do they think I’m too fat, or too thin? Do they think I’m smart enough?

When I was a child, I often heard from others, “Don’t do that, or wear this. What will they think?”
But I never knew who exactly “they” were.

To a certain extent, we do have to care about what others think–if those others are people who have our best interests at heart, such as family or good friends. And if we have children, we care that they perceive us as a good influence.

But in general, we shouldn’t worry. The fact is, most people aren’t thinking about us at all. Their concern is for themselves and their own problems.

So why do we obsess about any impression we have on others? The reasons  vary because we’re all different, with unique upbringing, and unique childhood experiences. However, I do believe–and its only my opinion–that the concern begins when we’re young, with self-identity.

For some children, especially those without intact families, insecurity is a problem–a problem that isn’t their fault, yet affects their self-confidence. So they worry about how they look to others, and then bend to the majority, whichever way the wind blows at the time.

For others, it’s the need to NOT stand out, but to appear to belong to the group. This need gets stronger as children grow into their teens and suffer from peer pressure.

And then, there are some young people who want to shock others by their behavior or appearance because they’ve been wounded in an emotional way and find it necessary to project themselves as tough enough to have gotten through it–their way, not yours. They care because they WANT to stand out, and it’s almost a cry for help.

Then again, we’re all born with a personalized set of genes and passed down family traits–so maybe it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why our concern for the approval of others can be so strong.

Still, I think our primary concern should be how pleased WE are with ourselves. What do WE think about, not when we look in a mirror, but when we take a good, honest look at our actions, good and bad, that come from within.

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