Letting Go of Caring What Others Think of You


It appears that it is part of our nature as human beings to resist being rejected by our society. I find that we all basically want to be liked, to be held in high esteem, to be respected, or at the very least we do not want to be hated or seen as an ‘outcast’ in our society. My own speculation attributes this innate fear of rejection partially to our tribal roots, whereby it was necessary for the survival of an individual to be accepted by his or her tribe or community.

Living a solitary life was most likely a grave fate for our ancestors, as they did not have the type of infrastructure that has been developed by modern society: such as a formal government to protect them from life’s predicaments, or a healthcare system which provides care when illness strikes. They simply had their tribe or their small community in which they entrusted their safety and well-being to the dynamics of personal human relationships found in a communal refuge.

Nowadays, we can see that things are quite different. Most of the individuals who are a part of the modern world no longer reside in tight-knit communities, and even within our own neighborhoods it is a rare occurrence that close relationships are formed. We live in a disjointed world whereby we often opt for virtual communication rather than in-person communication and where our towns and our cities are marked by an inherent sentiment of competition and (often times ruthless) individualism.

Of course close relationships with others are not only ultimately fulfilling, but they also provide support and help which is highly desired during the times in our lives when ‘life happens.’ However, the way I see it is that we really don’t NEED the approval of the people around us to ultimately survive anymore.

This is not to say that societal approval cannot make one’s life a great deal easier, because it does. For example, I imagine it would be quite difficult to obtain a mainstream job when your face and body is covered with tattoos and piercings.

However, my point here is that I believe it is important for each of us to examine the fact that it is no longer of utmost importance in modern society for us to fear rejection. In fact, I find that the reason we have attained the incredible advances in all modes of living, and the progress that we all enjoy today in the developed world, is due to the brave individuals who did not live their lives in fear of what others thought of them.

These individuals realized that in order for positive changes to ensue in the world, it was necessary for them to forge a new path that had not before been embarked upon. It is highly evident that those who push boundaries and test limits are often the ones who are the most disliked and even feared by society. Yet can you imagine the world we’d live in today if these individuals did not transcend this deep yearning to be accepted and loved by other human beings? I personally would not want to live in that hypothetical world.

It’s hard to stomach the feeling of rejection by others, yet being disliked by others is an inescapable part of life: one that we all most endure. No matter how kind you are, how helpful you are, how bright or interesting you may be– there will always, and I mean always, be someone who dislikes you. So, why spend your energies and time trying to prevent a fate which is as inevitable as your own impending death?

Many seem to think that they can only be happy if they are loved by others, but I tend to disagree. I believe that putting your happiness and peace of mind in the hands of others is like placing your drunk Aunt Margaret in the driver’s seat of your car and doubtlessly expecting for her to deliver you home safely: this is a foolish endeavor and drunk-old Aunt Margaret will most likely get hurt, in addition to you.

You do not need the approval of others to be a fulfilled human being in this life. I believe each one of us should work towards obtaining a deeper sense of independence within ourselves. I believe that we should all work towards cutting ourselves loose from the binding ties of co-dependence, which I find to be both a tumultuous and shallow way of life, which robs the world of innovation, creativity and the progression toward a more harmonious world: a world which is forged only by those who are daring enough to be disliked.

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2 thoughts on “Letting Go of Caring What Others Think of You

  1. Let me start by saying that I’ve only heard through a mutual friend that you encourage an open dialogue on your blog posts which is why I am responding. This is in no way coming from a defensive place, but rather used as a means to harmlessly communicate and critique ideas in a progressive manner to our individual understandings.

    I agree with a large percentage of what you’ve addressed here. Specifically the fact that society is now structured in a such a way that opinions of others onto ourselves should have little to no impact in the fulfillment of our lives. But I would have to argue that this only applies to negative opinions based on a large societal scale. There is a reason why we seek relationships and connections. There is a reason why our closest friends and family members are those that we can relate to the most. We share common interests, aspirations, life views, socioeconomic backgrounds, privileges, etc. There is a reason why we expose so much of ourselves to the select few. Perhaps the love and approval that we yearn for from others mirrors the love and approval of ourselves that we yearn for. We see ourselves in them. And by undoubtedly acknowledging that no single person is the exact same as ourselves, we find those who are close enough to give constant emotional and logical feedback to everything we do. We find our niche group and gain comfort in the niche’s isolation from the larger society. Within us we comprise of multiple humans sharing many common threads that work towards self advancement in a number of directions. We maintain individuality, but grow in a collective direction. For example: there is a reason why you encourage responses on your blog posts. Whether or not I agree or disagree with you, as long as I provide in a civil way some sort of appropriate opinion or response, you progress as an individual by either gaining yet another point of view and interpretation of the current topic, or by my opinions not doing much else than reaffirming your own opposing opinions that have already been established. Both outcomes grant a progression of confidence in our own identities. Sharing the same canvasses, we co-create the identities that we individually carry. A confidence in the developed identity can thus be enforced, allowing for new paths to be forged, etc whereas, without the co-creation of identity, we would be left in stagnation – too hesitant to make necessary leaps. Similarly though, stagnation can come from too much dependence on relationships themselves used for growth. I would propose that placing too much comfort in close relationships of this sort could also be entirely destructive in that too much comfort is gained and identities begin to converge into one – in which progression and individuality and therefore happiness are yet again limited. Nothing remains to stoke the fire.

    So yes, I agree that we all must find a deeper independence in ourselves. And yes, I agree that we must avoid the comfort in co-dependence, But, I believe that the exchange of approval/disapproval between close individuals is a co-creation or co-progression that is often necessary to the pursuit of happiness and contentment.

    • Brian, let me preface my response by saying thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate your feedback and I always welcome an open dialogue on any of my posts.

      I would like to be able to create a forum on my blog, but at this point am too technologically incompetent as well as lazy to figure out how to do so. Someday I shall.

      Anyways, I wholeheartedly agree with most of what you’ve said here. I feel that you have addressed some important points that I have left out in my post, one of those points being that we must find a balance in our relationships with other human beings, in which we do not have our identity wrapped up in another individual, do not expect anyone else to foster our own happiness or peace, and have a solid sense of independence within ourselves, but ALSO that we recognize that human relationships are, as you’ve said here, a great inspiration for personal growth and can even be a catalyst for personal growth.

      Our closest relationships can provide a great deal of joy as well as insight, and I totally agree that being able to bounce ideas off of others, to share and to contrast your reflections with those of others, as well as to have your closest relationships act as a mirror into your own being, is a very rewarding part of life and it is something that I hope everyone can experience. Thanks again for sharing, I really enjoyed your thoughts on this and hope you will comment again when you feel inclined to.

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