Who cares? Years back I did. I cared too much. I worried about the opinions of others. I took to heart what I thought would make me better in the eyes of people who really didn’t even know me. I beat myself up replaying comments that were casually tossed my way. This was definitely a low point for me. It’s hard to admit out loud even now. I want to be honest, though, in hopes of speaking directly to your heart. And things changed.
I stopped caring what people thought. I didn’t believe the compliments and I shrugged off the criticism. In fact, I didn’t truly hear a lot of what was being said to me – positive or not, constructive or hurtful. But pretending to be strong wasn’t the progress I was looking for. So, things changed again.
Now, I don’t care what most people think and realize my opinion about me is the most important one. I do hear what is said to me by the people that love me. I embrace the compliments and take in the criticism, but only if it is constructive. I think I’ve finally taken a positive turn in the nuances of caring, and found a place of confidence.
In the past I was trying to cover for not thinking much of myself. I thought that if I could just ignore all the input and pretend I was ok with who I was, I would be – it would become my truth. I guess I was trying to ‘fake it ’til you make it,’ but that didn’t work. It was just a façade to cover the hurt I felt that left me feeling unworthy and low.
It took some effort to stop internalizing everything and again to stop blocking out everything. But, after some serious thought about whose opinions mattered, I started listening more. I realized that my Grandmother embraced me and held me out in front of her every time I saw her. “Oh, Annie, you look fantastic!” Every time. She didn’t love me differently when I was a size 10 or a size 20. She didn’t greet me with less joy when the bags under my eyes were obvious or more when I had good news to share. I recognized that same unconditional caring in the words and actions of other family and friends, too. At some point I thought to myself, “They can’t all be wrong,” and decided maybe I should try to see in me what they saw in me. Maybe I could find a way to care about me in the thoughtful, loving way they did.
How about you? Do you care what others think of you? If you do, should you? If you don’t, is it because you’re confident in who you are or trying to fool the world and yourself? Where are you on this spectrum? I’m good with questions, aren’t I? Let’s see if I can help you answer for yourself.
You might care too much if…
…you change your behavior to try to please others.
…you think everyone’s opinions carry equal weight.
…you look outside yourself for approval.
…you cry when you’re alone when thinking about the off-handed comments others scattered in your midst today.
You might be trying to hide behind bravado if…
…you make excuses for compliments offered by loved ones.
…you offer empty smiles to others.
…you can’t separate the comments made by coworkers, parents, neighbors, spouses, and those expressed in magazines or on TV.
…you speak negatively about yourself in your head, but not in front of others.
You might have found balance in caring if…
…you can say, “Thank you,” when offered a compliment.
…you consider what those closest to you have to say, but in the end know YOU have to feel good about your decisions.
…you can look in a mirror and see the same things loved ones see.
…you can tune out the noisy opinions of Nosey Nancies, Rude Ritas, and other busy bodies.
So, where do you fall on the Who Cares Scale? I hope that if you’re not at the place you want to be, you can find your way there. If you think you’re covering low self-esteem with a “whatever” attitude, you deserve more than a band aid solution. If you think every comment out there is somehow a message to you saying you need to change who you are, you deserve more than that too.
Who cares? I do. I care about me. That’s where it all started to change for me. Do you care about you?