Thursday, May 5, 2011

What Others Think of You

Consider this post a footnote on yesterday’s post.

When I suggested that the therapy culture was recommending that people ignore what others think of them, the better to get in touch with their creativity and their feelings, I thought that the point was sufficiently obvious not to require documentation.

If you live in America you have heard over and over again that it’s bad to worry about how you look to others. If you are or have ever been an adolescent you have had this message drummed into your vulnerable mind.

Truth be told, I did not have any evidence at hand for my assertion and did not have the time to search it out.

And then, lo and behold, on one of my periodic perambulations through the Internet I came across a column on a site called Lifehacker. Link here.

The author Melanie Penola reports on a new book by someone named Julien Smith. To some extent, the column makes a good point. If you are sensitive to the point where you refuse to take a stand for fear of offending other people, it is not a good thing.

It is also a sign of a defensive and pusillanimous character.

To go from there to the conclusion that, as the title suggests: “Stop Caring About What Other People Think and Get Back Your Self-Respect” is a leap too far.

The truth is, if you have isolated yourself by not caring about what other people think, you will never have the presence of mind or the confidence to take a stand.

People who can effectively assert themselves are people who are confident that their stand is not going to threaten their membership in a group.

Professional non-conformists rarely have this quality. They are more likely to stand up and scream when they do not need to and to shrink into the corner when they need to assert themselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting post. Most people think that they will gain freedom by doing so. By "freedom" they mean the things that are gained by caring what people think, like money, status, sex, 'stuff', etc. That, of course, is not the case. I have spent a great deal of my life not caring what others think. I didn't do it rudely nor did I do it with the intent to prove a point. I didn't even consciously do it. I just don't care what others think of me (again, not in an aggressive or rude way and without ostentatious 'f-you' display). I'm still like that today.