You ever notice how the people who claim they don’t care what others think are always so adamant about you knowing that?
That’s because the vast majority of the time they are lying.
In fact, the people who say this typically worry about the opinions of others more than the rest of us.
I’ve been guilty of this myself, as I used to say the same thing.
The truth is, I do care – some of the time, at least.
But I don’t let the opinions of others control my life and neither should you. And I’m going to share with you exactly how I manage the opinions of others.
But first, let’s take a look at the fallacy of claiming not to care what others think.
The Duality of Life
Newton’s third law states that: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This doesn’t simply apply to physics, but to all aspects of life.
The world seeks balance – yin and yang. Good and evil. Dark and light.
It’s impossible to care what someone thinks when they say something positive and not care when they say something negative.
When people say they don’t care what anyone thinks of them, they usually mean that they don’t care when someone says something bad about them. But they obviously care for the praise, because you can see the flattery.
How can that be?
People who say otherwise are full of shit. They’re too insecure to admit this.
It’s a basic defense mechanism to deny that insults bother us, even though we obviously enjoy the praise.
It’s one thing if a person is just a hater or troll, then it’s easy to not care what they think. They never say anything positive, so there’s no praise to gain from them ever. I’m referring to when a person says something positive at one point and negative at another point. I’ll go into detail about this in the last section of the article.
Insults drive narcissists and ego-maniacs insane. It crawls under their skin and eats away at them. Despite the overconfident facade, they are the most delicate of all.
Next time someone gets mad at you and says “I don’t care what you think!” you can simply respond with, “so then why are you so mad?”.
They lose their mind every time. It’s actually pretty funny.
Only the pure sociopath can genuinely enjoy the compliments and not even notice the insults from the same person. A true sociopath is beyond self-centered, they truly don’t experience thoughts and emotions like the rest of us do.
For the rest of us, we care about the opinions of others. There’s no shame in being honest.
While this is true most of the time, it isn’t always true.
There really are those who don’t care what others think of them. However, you can spot these people easily because they don’t care about compliments and praise either. They simply don’t react to any feedback.
They aren’t sociopaths or anything. They are intentionally separated from their ego and one of the side effects of this is a lack of emotional response to virtually anything.
Stoicism in Excess
Throughout my childhood and teenage years I was very sensitive.
I’ve written before about how introverts are very sensitive by their nature. Not necessarily sensitive as in crying during sad movie scenes and all that.
Introverts are very sensitive to energies and emotions from others. We are very intuitive. When we indulge in that character trait too much, we can be overly-sensitive to the point that we aren’t in control of our emotions. They are in control of us.
Introverts spend a lot of time in our own head. We’re deep thinkers.
Aside from introversion, I am a very calculating and logical thinking person. So I fall for the trap of overthinking things, like many other introverts do.
When I was younger I had no grasp of any of this. Hence, why I felt so sensitive.
I struggled with depression throughout my childhood and up until the beginning of college. I didn’t tell anyone about it, because I didn’t want to bother anyone with my problems.
Then I hit a crucial point in my life after going through a tough breakup. I was in a terrible funk that I couldn’t seem to shake. That’s when I decided to make a change for good.
I no longer wanted to be a slave to my emotions.
I wanted to be in complete control of myself, logically, without allowing negative emotion to dictate ANY part of my life.
At the time, I had never heard of Stoicism. But this is the philosophy I began practicing, without realizing it.
Of course I was still young and immature, so this was all a reaction to heartbreak.
When we react, we tend to make mistakes or take things too far.
The best results come from thoughtful actions.
So in a surprisingly short amount of time I had accomplished what I set out to. At first I would feel the negative emotions and simply not react to them or not accept them as real. Then they slowly went away and never came back.
The problem was that I made myself too numb. While I didn’t experience the negative emotions in life, I also lost the positive emotions. (The duality of life is a universal law)
I still felt emotions on a low level, but I never experienced extreme emotions, ever. No spikes in excitement, anger, sadness, or anything.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. It’s a powerful feeling to not be controlled by your emotions. You become completely immune to manipulation and other psychological warfare. In fact, you can’t even realize how often people try to use your emotions against you, until you reach that state.
After 4-5 years of this, I realized I had become more stoic than I wanted to be. I felt that I wasn’t connecting with others as deeply as I had in the past.
Caring what people think is perceived as a weakness. In reality, it requires strength to open yourself up and allow yourself to be vulnerable.
While I think Stoicism is a great philosophy to study and adapt, I can never completely conform to any set of ideals that someone else has created.
I’m constantly taking insights from other philosophies and applying them to my own personal code.
That’s why I write. I want to share my philosophy, so you can take what benefits you and apply it to your life. Then hopefully you will pass that along to others as well.
The Hierarchy of Opinion Value
The entire article up to this point was background information. I had to tell you all of that so you could understand how this system came about.
The Hierarchy of Opinion Value is my personal system for how I let opinions affect me.
Essentially, this is a system that ranks the value of an opinion based on the person who is sharing that opinion.
I invite you to use this as a starting template for your own system.
- Inner Circle – Closest family members, girlfriend, and closets friends, colleagues/peers that I trust deeply
- Network – Friends, relatives that aren’t as close, colleagues/peers that I like, respect, and know on a somewhat personal level
- Prospects – People I get a good vibe from, that I like, respect, and want to add to my network
- High Value Strangers – People I don’t know, but give a strong first impression
- Low Value People – People I don’t know that give a bad impression and simpletons, haters, trolls, negative people, and other toxic people
This might sound callous, I know.
But here’s my belief and you can choose to agree or disagree:
You are responsible for your life. No one else. What you get out of life is a direct result of what you put into it. You can choose to let things work themselves out, as most opt for. Or you can, like myself and others, choose to dictate the outcome on your own terms. Like any good dictator, this means maintaining order in your kingdom.
I’m going to get what I want out of life. And one thing I don’t want is to be at the mercy of opinions from others.
This system allows me to be numb to the opinions of people I don’t value, while still allowing a genuine connection (and vulnerability) with people that I do value.
Compliments from my inner circle sound as beautiful as ocean waves on an empty beach at sunset. But criticisms and insults pierce deeply like a freshly sharpened sword.
Insults from low value people do nothing. Neither do compliments. Praise from a low value person does absolutely nothing for my ego. I genuinely do not care either way what they think.
Perhaps you’ve already adapted a system like this, but never gave it a name and created a visual image to go along with it.
The Hierarchy of Opinion Value feels most natural to me at this point, because it’s the result of my evolution as a person. I can honestly say I have never felt more balanced between having a deep connection with those that I care about, while being completely disconnected from those that I don’t.
As always, it’s up to you to decide how to apply this to your life.
Had I not experienced both extremes of the spectrum (overly sensitive vs overly stoic) I wouldn’t have come up with this system.
Wanting to think a particular way is easy, but practicing that mindset is the challenge.
Sometimes people feel like they are faking it when they try to adopt a new mindset.
That’s why I say don’t fake it til’ you make it… be it. Follow through and you’re not faking it.
How you choose to value the opinions of others is completely up to you. There’s a good chance that you completely disagree with my philosophy and that’s perfectly fine.
However, to those who feel they are a slave to what others think about them – there is hope. You can change, as I and many others have.
And you don’t have to become an emotionless robot to do so either.
“A lion doesn’t concern itself with the opinion of sheep.”
-George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
Until Next Time,
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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