Taking to Heart What Other People Think


Me today, February 18, 2013

It’s the complete opposite of what everyone tells you to do. No one ever says “pay more attention to the opinions of others.” It seems so counter-intuitive. We are taught to trust ourselves more than anyone else, that what other people believe about us doesn’t matter. All my life I have heard the same old lecture: stop worrying about what other people think.

Blah, blah, blah. If I had a penny for every time I heard that phrase, well, I probably wouldn’t be running in shoes with holes in the bottom.

This is a feat that at times seemed impossible. How does one cut out the nagging jibes in the background? How am I supposed to abruptly stop caring what my friends, co-workers, and grocery store clerks secretly think about me? These people are in my life and they matter. I see the same Tim Horton’s cashier several times a week. It’s important to me that our interactions have a friendly air. Procuring my mid-day coffee should not be a hostile activity. Furthermore, I think it is important to be considerate of other people. If we all wander around not ever thinking of the concerns of others,Β  it won’t take long for the world to turn pretty miserable.

Obviously, I took the concept a little too literally. Shocking.

This is going to sound awkward but I am going to stammer it out anyway. Through conversations with my PH I have come to learn that perhaps I have been taking the wrong approach. The more inward I focus, the crappier I feel about myself. I am always going to be harder on myself than anyone else could be. It’s always a surprise when someone else says something kind or when someone views my actions from a positive perspective rather than a negative one. I will always search for and poke at the flaws and am stunned when others don’t do the same.

My PH has gently pointed out that perhaps I need to start believing my own press. Maybe instead of ignoring, I need to embrace, the opinions of others. It’s probably a good bet that our mail carrier – who I worry thinks we’re nuts based on all the packages we receive addressed to “Rescued Insanity – thinks better of me than I do of myself. It might be time I start to believe him.

Or her. I don’t think I’ve actually met the carrier in our neighbourhood yet. Which is probably a good thing for both of us. On our old street Shiva and the carrier had one sticky interaction too many. I am surprised he continued to deliver mail to our door at all. There were days I am sure he contemplated just throwing it on our lawn and dodging away.

Me, many years ago, roughly February 2007.

Me, February 18, 2007.

It’s funny, and a little sad, that despite how many things have changed in my life between the years these two pictures were taken, I’m still very much the same person. I look a little different and my priorities have altered completely, yet I am still the same uncertain person inside. And you know… I think that’s okay. Who I am doesn’t need to change. How I view myself does. When I think about what the twenty-five year old woman in the photo above would think of the thirty-one year old woman in the first picture, I get stuck. Would she be proud? Would she be disappointed? I know she would think I am in desperate need of a hair cut.

I like to think she would understand. I hope she would see all the happiness in my life and brush off all the sad. My birthday gift to myself is that it doesn’t matter what she thinks any more. It never should have in the first place.

29 thoughts on “Taking to Heart What Other People Think

  1. You’re right and a wise woman at a ridiculously young age. I’m much harder on myself than most anyone else; listening to others more often is a good idea.

    Happy birthday!


  2. Good for you, Kristine – what a nice birthday present to yourself. That PH of yours is a pretty smart guy! It’s a lesson all of us with self-esteem challenges should take to heart.


  3. Happy birthday, Kristine!

    And you’re right – you do need to start listening to the people in your life instead of the voice in your head. We like you a lot more than that silly voice seems to. πŸ˜‰

    I think that expression about not caring what other people think is mostly said by people who are jerks who want an excuse to continue acting like jerks. Maybe there’s some truth to it and one definitely needs to achieve a balance between who/what matters in their life vs. who/what to ignore. But I’m pretty sure your internal voice is harder on yourself than just about anyone outside of you could ever or would ever be.

    In other words – listen to your PH. He’s right on the money. πŸ™‚


  4. Happy Birthday!

    It’s such a catch 22 that the opinions of others can both cause and solve insecurities. But I think they provide certain checks and balances. Otherwise, cramped elevator rides would have (even more) unpleasant odours.


  5. So that’s three things we share: a crazy dog, an over-active superego, and tremendous self-doubt no matter what nice things our friends tell us about ourselves.

    Maybe we need a self-help group?

    (And we’re both book snobs. There’s that too.)


  6. It’s your BIRTHDAY??!! No wonder I love you! You are an Aquarian and that is one of my most compatible signs (I am a Libra)
    This isn’t going to help at all but I am 57 and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I STILL feel “unsure” or “uncertain” of myself. I think it is those feelings that help push us to be the best that we can be, if we didn’t feel like that we would be complacent.
    On another note…THIS…made me roar with laughter ” It’s probably a good bet that our mail carrier – who I worry thinks we’re nuts based on all the packages we receive addressed to β€œRescued Insanity –”
    Too funny!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I thought the boxes to Cat Chat and Dakota’s Den were bad…..you got me on this one!
    Hoping your birthday is as beautiful as you are……..you are a gem……..you truly are!


  7. I think you should tell those inner voices that I said to SHUT THEIR PIE HOLES! :p

    And here’s something to look forward to: After a certain age, you won’t be able to remember your perky 25-y-o self, much less worry about what she thinks. Don’t ask me how I know this.

    Now go and do something terribly indulgent/selfish and feel GREAT about it (and you)! Happy birthday!


    • Okay, I’m back.

      It was like one minute I’m leaving a comment here (which is BIG in itself, as I am a no-commenting selfish tart) and then the next minute I was here, on this complete stranger’s blog, because apparently I helped the author get her social icons in a row. πŸ™‚ Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that you should check out this post she published today (which is eerily similar enough to yours that I had to come back over here and share), and maybe – as if you don’t have enough support here already – find solace in the fact that you are definitely NOT alone.

      In case WordPress didn’t like the html I inserted in that link up there: http://atthepresentmoment.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-evolution-of-things.html

      And she has a rescue dog: http://atthepresentmoment.blogspot.com/p/about.html

      My job is now done. πŸ™‚


  8. What a nice gift to yourself. I think your PH is very wise, as are you. I hope this new outlook brings you much happiness. I for one, think you’re GREAT.

    PS- if it makes you feel any better at all, our mail carrier thinks it’s FANTASTIC that our dogs get so much mail and when she has a big package, she’ll purposely deliver it late, so that hopefully I’ll be home and open it so she can see what neat thing they’ve gotten now. *maybe* your mail carrier is “dog people” too.


  9. I agree that being aware of others and their opinions does matter – to a point. The most important thing is feeling good about yourself. Of course, life experience will shape you and your opinions and those can be difficult to change from negative to positive (trust me – I know…big time) but it sounds like you’re on the right track and with the love and support of your PH, you can change to focus on your inner positive self. If you encounter someone who doesn’t like you – so what? You like yourself and your PH loves you and of course Shiva thinks you’re the bestest thing EVER! Don’t forget that! And all of us who enjoy reading your blog like you too : )


  10. Strangely, delivery people do just kind of throw stuff on our porch and dodge away. Seriously, your Doberman licks one FedEx guy….

    Changing how you view something, oneself included, can be VERY hard. I believe in you!


  11. Happy birthday! I’m a mere couple of years older than you and I like to pretend that the photos of me look the same at 25 as they do now πŸ˜‰ they don’t, of course, when I was 25 I was an athlete(!)

    Anyway, I think more along the lines of ‘don’t let the haters get you down’ – of course I care what other people think, if I didn’t I might not even bother to have a blog.


  12. Hi Kristine, happy birthday. So you’re 35, you’re pretty good looking, you have a great dog who adores you as much as your PH does, okay maybe more. We all have regrets and perhaps a few sorrows but really, it makes the successes and happiness that we’ve managed to scrimp and cobble together, so much more precious and endearing and meaningful. Life’s about learning. So be cool. And I’m going to share a really valuable piece of advice that I copied from Peg’s site http://secretschnoodle.blogspot.ca/2012/11/not-much-to-say.html and that is, “Be yourself. No one can ever tell you you’re doing it all wrong.” (Snoopy). Happy birthday, you’re a good cookie.


  13. Happiest of birthdays to you Kristine and give your PH a big hug from all of us for pointing out that you really are perfect just the way you are πŸ˜‰ We are all our own worst critics and some days it’s so hard to quiet the “itty bitty shitty committee” in our heads, but you have every right to believe that you are a wonderful person . . .we all think so!!


  14. Happy birthday Ms Tonks, only 31 years young. Not caring about what other people say is definitely easier said than done, unless you’re old and short of hearing like me. I love that your mail is addressed to Rescued Insanity haha! So did you get the ribbons sent in December? Some good wishes should be made today πŸ˜€ X


  15. Happy birthday! I know exactly what you mean, and was looking at some baby photo’s the other day when I thought to myself – I wish I could go back and tell myself all the worrying was in vain, and that I wasn’t as fat/spotty as I used to think I was (however, I can’t convince my current self of this fact!)

    I just wanted to tell you how much your blog inspires me (I have been following for a while but never commented) to the fact that I had a problem at agility with my dog, and my thought was I need some advice on how to deal with this, and I immediately thought of your blog!

    I hope you have a lovely day


  16. Happy Birthday.

    Life is a journey. Sometimes we take the wrong turn and get lost, but eventually we find ourselves back on the right road. If life ran smoothly all the time, I think it would get a bit boring:) The bad times make us appreciate the good times. Have faithf in yourself, be open to others but still use your own intuition to make decisions. You are unique and in a World full of unique people you stand out.

    Remember to the world you are but one personb, but to one person you are the world.


  17. I used to think introspection was a good thing. It would make me deep and thoughtful. Eventually, I figured out my brain was trying to kill me.

    I thought I was controlling it and it was controlling me.

    Every one else’s brain is fooling them as much as ours is fooling us. But listening to them at least gives us a new perspective.

    If you’re learning this lesson at 31 you’ll be a superstar by the time you hit 41!

    And of course, dogs are always happier than we are and they never introspect. πŸ™‚


  18. You’ve got a PH with a good head on his shoulders, you should listen to him more. I think in a world where we strive hard to be kind to others, we sometimes forget that we need to be kind to ourselves as well.

    You’re very wise and very smart and I think your 25 year-old self would say, look at the amazing woman I have become.

    Rock on Kristine, rock on!


  19. I’m really hard on myself too….so I can relate with this post.
    I hope this new perspective works out great for you…and I hope you had a wonderful birthday!! πŸ™‚


  20. Happy belated birthday! I agree, maybe you should believe the people who read your blog and leave positive comments because you’re open, honest and way cooler than you let yourself believe!


  21. Absolutely beautiful. I loved this post so much Kristine. Your PH is a very smart man.

    I have done the same thing myself – listened to all the negative stuff in my head versus what others are saying. I think it’s a delicate balance to weigh what other people say with what we tell ourselves. Perhaps the weight of the opinion should rest with those who influence us most in a positive way. Is that others? Then listen to them. If it is ourselves striving to get past the naysayers, then I say listen to yourself. Either way, I think it is a wonderful birthday gift to yourself and you deserve it.

    Happy birthday friend.


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