Countless self-help books, quotes and gurus tell us that we shouldn’t care what other people think. That you should just do you. I believe I’ve even provided this advice to some degree in my books and blogs.
But after some thought I have come to realize that this isn’t entirely the best advice. I believe that you shouldn’t care about what everyone else thinks about you but you should care about what someone thinks about you.
Without boundaries, which are often set and established by the people we love and trust, our lives can quickly devolve into a chaotic mess. If you don’t have anyone in this world whose opinion you care about, there are no checks and balances. Sometimes we need the opinion of another person to stay grounded and headed in the right direction.
Take the case of young girls who fall victim to drug abuse, violent relationships and/or sex work. They often grow up without boundaries and pretty much put up a middle finger to everyone in the world. They don’t respect or care about the opinions of their parents, their friends, mentors, teachers or anyone else who might help them live a better life. Not caring about anyone’s opinion often leads them down the path of destruction.
Another thought. Currently in the US, we have a few leaders who think that they can do whatever they want, no matter who it hurts or affects. As much as they might not care about what anyone thinks about their deeds, that mentality will backfire. The opinions of their fellow citizens do matter.
Here’s one more example. I recently watched the Amazon series Z. It’s the story of Zelda Fitzgerald and her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald. They fell in love at first sight and had a whirlwind romance that quickly lead to marriage. But Zelda was unaware of her husband’s wild and lascivious lifestyle. He had no boundaries and neither did his friends. They lived life on their own terms, not caring what anyone thought of them (or so they said). Before she knew it, Zelda was swept up by it all and living that life as well. She died fairly young in a mental hospital.
To reiterate, I don’t think that you should go through life caring about what everyone around you thinks. It’s oppressive to be constantly self-conscious and insecure. But I do think that there is value in having someone in this world whose opinion matters to you, whether it’s a parent, a friend, a mentor or God.