What Other People Think of You is None of Your Business!
Updated: Apr 5
The sooner you can learn this, the better! This is one of the toughest lessons to learn, but one of the most empowering. Once you learn it, you will be happier - I promise!
When you allow someone to hurt you with their words or negative opinions of you, you are giving them power over you. And why would you empower someone who doesn’t like you? It makes no sense.
Listening to all their mean words makes us feel bad about ourselves. When you listen to them, you are agreeing with them. If you feel bad about what they say, you are validating that it’s true. You know it’s not true - so why let them believe that they could make it true?
The only opinions you should worry about is your own opinion of yourself and the people who love you (truly love you). Those are the only opinions that matter.
So the next time someone wants to tell you gossip about what someone else ‘said about you,’ tell that person to stop! Tell them that you don’t care to hear about what someone who doesn't like you has to say about you. You aren't going to give ANYONE power over you. You are too strong for that!
I didn’t learn this lesson until I was into my 30’s. Let me tell you how it all came about… The story behind this lesson is one I usually reserve for in-person sharing because you don’t get the full effect without the accompanying hand gestures that go with it (you’ll see what I mean later). But since I can’t tell it in person I’m gonna try to convey the full message as best I can because this is a message you can’t afford not to learn.
I grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba and as a teenager there was a group of girls that didn’t like me - my “fan club” as I like to call them. One girl in particular was kind of like the ringleader. I won’t name her by name; I’ll just refer to her as my “fan club president”. But these girls would all band together to talk about me or bash my name if ever it was brought up. I don’t know why they didn’t like me and they never told me, if you were to ask any of them today I could guarantee with 100% assurance that they could not provide a valid reason other than they just don’t like me. Teenage drama I guess.
I ended up moving away at 17 but every now and then I would go back and visit with my one girlfriend (who I love to death still to this day). She would fill me in on everyone and then proceed to also fill me in on all the crap that my fan club and fan club president had said about me and I would end up leaving that conversation feeling hurt and confused.
I would allow their words to hurt me. I would think why don’t they like me? or what did I do? And I would allow it to bother me for a long time afterward. This went on for years. Every time I would go back for a visit with my friend it would be the same thing over and over and over again. She would tell me what they said and I would be left feeling shitty.
But I don’t blame my friend. I know it was never her intention for me to feel bad. She probably thought she was doing me a favour as a loyal friend for telling me what people were saying about me, or she probably even thought I wanted to hear it - I mean why wouldn’t she, I ate it up every time. She had no reason to think I didn’t want to hear it.
And then, during one of my visits, just as my friend was getting ready to begin telling me all the nasty stuff my fan club president had been saying about me I finally just had enough. I held my hand up and said, “Stop. I don’t want to hear it! If you tell me what she said about me you’re giving her power to hurt me and why should I give her power to hurt me? She doesn’t even like me!” I don’t know where this new found knowledge came from or how I mustered up the strength not to stand for it anymore, but I decided I would no longer give away my power.
So that day we enjoyed our visit. I didn’t have to hear things that would upset me, and from that day forward, every time we met up she no longer brought up these people in our conversations and I wouldn’t ask. I knew they were still talking about me, but since I made the choice not to hear it, it couldn’t hurt me and I was happier for it.
Now as fate would have it, I ended up moving back to my childhood home for a teaching job. My fan club all still lived there but who cared? Life was good and I was a mom of 4 now.
It was a nice, hot sunny day and I thought it would be a good idea to put my 3 youngest (all under the age of 6) in a wagon and take them to the ice cream store.
Well there we were on our way back and pandemonium had broken loose in the back of the wagon! All 3 of them were covered head-to-toe in ice cream! And to top it off it was bright blue so you can imagine how they looked. Instantly I regretted the choice I made to go that far. The sun was beating down on me, and even though I still had such a long way to go, I was already sweating profusely. I feel I should also mention that I have naturally curly hair so some of it was tied back into a ponytail and the rest had escaped, forming wild curly horns along the side of my temples. All I could think of was to get them home and throw them in the tub - that or line them up against the house and hose them down with the garden hose. Wasn’t sure yet!
But in that moment of contemplation and regret, who should drive by? None other than the fan club president herself. In that moment when our eyes locked she gave me the purest look of disgust that she must have been saving up for me all these years. I could only describe it as a smirk, sneer and eye roll and in one. Well... can you imagine what I did next!?!
I can tell you wholeheartedly, without a shadow of a doubt, old Holly would have thrown both fingers in the air while shouting profanities! Or at least mouthed them (I was with my kids after all). But that was old Holly. New and improved Holly did something surprising. New Holly wished her a silent blessing as she drove away in her truck.
See, in that moment what I saw was somebody who was alone and unhappy. I had heard through the grapevine that her husband had just left her and for years she had been trying desperately to get pregnant and at nearly 40 it hadn’t happened for her yet. I knew how badly she wanted a child. I envisioned her driving home to an empty house and probably calling the rest of my fan club to tell them she had just seen me so that they can all talk about me together. But that didn’t bother me, because in that moment I felt compassion for her.
I looked at my life and even though there I was sweating like a pig, tired from pulling my kids, who were fighting wildly, and filthy from head to toe... I had children, and I was also going home to a happy home and a loving husband who was probably folding my laundry because that’s just the kind of guy he is. And in that moment as she drove by me, my wish for her was to have even just a little of the happiness that I had in my life.
I continued on my way and I felt peace in my heart as I looked at my children and realized how grateful and blessed I really was to have all that I do. And to be honest I felt a bit of surprise at how much I had grown to have compassion enough to love my enemies.
I heard later that she had met someone and ended up having a baby and I found that I could be happy for her, even though I know that to this day she still hates me with a passion and I see it in her eyes every time I see her. But the thing is, I just can’t hold any of that hatred inside of me. Holding onto hatred is like drinking poison. Sadly if she wants to put hatred between us it has to be all on her own. I refuse to carry that toxicity inside of me.
When you intentionally refuse to allow negativity into your life you build an invisible shield that surrounds you. And as you incorporate practices such as self-love, gratitude and forgiveness your shield is strengthened and people‘s negative comments and opinions about you just can’t penetrate that invisible shield. They bounce off, they don’t stick, they ultimately slide away and are gone.
There have been many other times in my life where I’ve been subjected to hateful comments, social media attacks, or have been the topic of people’s conversations.
When this happened I ask myself 2 questions:
"Does this person have any bearing on my life?"
"Do they have any bearing on my future?"
If the answer is no then I just let it go because unless that person is somebody whose opinions you value, it doesn’t matter. The only opinions that matter are your own opinions of yourself and those of the people who love you.
A person who truly loves you will not stand to listen to anyone’s negative comments and they won’t be swayed by anyone’s negative opinions. So the next time somebody that doesn’t like you thinks that they have the right to an opinion about you, remember: what others think of you is none of your business!