Why Do We Care What They Think? // Ignoring people’s opinion is hard — but necessary

By: Shani Goodman

A long time ago, when I was a teacher, someone told me through a third party (my husband) that I shouldn’t be teaching. “It’s not your wife’s forte,” this person said. “She’s not a teacher or a speaker. She should concentrate on doing something else.”
Ever since then, every time I am presented with an opportunity to teach or speak, I hesitate. I hear that person’s words in my head, even though I didn’t hear them firsthand. More often than not, I say no to the offer, and when I do say yes—mostly because I hate saying no—my heart sinks and a large knot forms in the pit of my stomach. As the day of the scheduled speech looms closer, I think, Why would anyone want to hear me? Everyone will be so disappointed. I’m not a speaker.
The craziest part of this story is that the person who said I shouldn’t teach had never seen me teach. Till today, I have no idea why he thought he had the right to make a judgment on something he knew nothing about. And yet, his negative opinion haunts me even now in the dull panic I am feeling at the mere thought of speaking in public.
I know that I am not alone in caring overly much about what other people think. (If I were, I would be writing this article in my diary, under the heading “No One Understands Me—Sob, Sob” instead of as a feature in AmiLiving, where others can read and relate to it.) That is why I read the classic fable The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey to my kids on a semi-regular basis. (The second reason I read The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey to my kids on a semi-regular basis is that the book is in their bedroom and not all the way in the living room on the bookshelf.)


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