Nobody’s business

Listening to an audio presentation by Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., and Christiane Northrup, M.D., I was struck by this quote: “what others think of you is none of your business.” How much energy do we spend wondering–or fretting–about others’ opinions of us? As if we need that information–especially if it’s positive–to affirm us? If we perceive that someone’s opinion is negative, we feel rejected, even worthless. And even may revise ourselves to be someone that we’re not.

Women get easily sucked into the idea that “everybody has to like me.” Reach clear back to your grade school memories, and I bet you can call up the hurt from being excluded by other little girls: not invited to a party, snubbed on the playground, left out of the circle passing elaborately-folded notes. To be universally approved and loved, in many women’s minds, is the gold standard of success as a person. Peruse the obituary section of your newspaper and I bet you’ll encounter the phrase “loved by all” at least once.

Who says that 110% acceptance from people you encounter is even possible? Consider what I call “the rule of thirds.” When you put 100 college students who don’t know each other in a room to mix and mingle, and later rate each other, a predictable pattern emerges. One third of the students like person A, one third of the students dislike person A, and the other third can be swayed. This reality sinks in if you reverse it; do you truly like everyone that you meet?

Not many of us want to be actively disliked, and most of us feel better when we do have friends and family members who love us. But do you really need–or have time for–96 close personal friends? Save the energy spent worrying about what others think of you. The ultimate approval comes from within–and that’s all that matters. Let’s affirm ourselves while we sing a loud chorus of the classic Porter Granger/Everett Robbins song, “Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do,” sung here by Billie Holiday.

4 thoughts on “Nobody’s business

  1. Ninotchka says:

    That’s one of my favorite quotes and one I’m trying to teach my girls to remember when they’re feeling disliked or excluded. Another one I say all the time, “not everyone is going to love ya!” There’s a certain freedom in that. Not caring about not being liked frees up so much space & energy to spend on those people who do like you.

  2. Ann Dunnewold says:

    Hey, Nino, I agree on the energy factor. I learned a phrase in high school that stuck with me, about “loving the easy ones.” Human nature seems to be to chase after friends who already have plenty of people in their lives, rather than looking around for those who need us as much as we need them!

  3. Vivienne McNeny says:

    I’ve heard it said that before you even open your mouth half the audience hates you…Being English in America I disagree because I’ve been told that I could read a telephone directory and people would listen to me, it’s my accent…not me! But having an attentive audience is gratifying, whatever the reason. I look at it like this, if someone doesn’t like me I don’t take it personally

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