Unfortunately, too much caring about other peoples' thoughts and reactions can lead to excessive worry, angst and mental suffering. For many of us, our fear of what other people might think or say about us can be debilitating. Suddenly, we are afraid to try something new, or speak up at a meeting, or share our true selves to avoid feeling criticized, minimized or even bullied. As with many human behaviors and attitudes, finding a mental health balance is the key.
To care nothing about what others think would be dangerous not only to ourselves, but potentially to all of society. Sociopathic and psychopathic behavior often has its origins in an inability to empathize and be concerned about others. But, to care so much about the thoughts and reactions of others immobilizes our own creativity and human need to be empowered and independent.
So, paying attention to what people are saying about us and how they are reacting to us is good, if we can do it from a healthy place. Often the feedback from others can be paramount in terms of our own development. For example, if we are the person who always speaks first, and hogs the spotlight at every professional meeting, someone's suggestion that we hold off speaking or limit our commentary might be useful. On the other hand, someone's feedback about our behavior might be more a reflection of them, and not us. Perhaps we are presenting a challenge of some sort to the other person that triggers them in some way, and rather than employ introspection, they react outwardly and project unhealthy attitudes onto us in order to shut us down. In this case, we have little responsibility to quell our comments and actions in the meeting.
Our interactions with other people serve as vital information into ourselves. Much of this information is helpful and can guide us wisely toward a higher level of consciousness. But, it can also derail us and constrict our ultimate growth if we are overly sensitive to the opinions and thoughts of other people. Caring what other people think makes us human, and if we can do it from a safe distance, we become a healthier, happier human.
Be kind to each other and to yourself.
© Copyright 2016 Douglas Layer, M.A., LPCC