what others think of you is none of your business

What Others Think of You is None of Your Business (Not My Problem)

“What others think of you is none of your business” is a phrase we have all heard. We are also told “don’t take anything personally.” Those two phrases are great in theory but very difficult to apply.

For years, I believed that everything somebody did was aimed at me and meant something about me. That left me feeling angry and with a ton of Not Good Enough Stuff. If you don’t know what I’m referring to by Not Good Enough Stuff, click here to read my explanation.

The ironic thing is that I would tell others to “Quit taking it personally” when they would vent to me about how others treated them or what others said about them. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to think that everything is about us.

What Others Think of You is None of Your Business

So, learning how to go against that human nature to truly understand and believe that what others think of you is none of your business and to quit taking it personally is no easy feat. It took me several years to learn it’s not my problem if others think something negative about me or if they judge me.

When I was about twenty-five, I went to work for a local newspaper selling advertising. There was another girl working there with whom I had grown up but had never been close.

Just like you have experienced, I knew when she was talking about me behind my back. We know the energy we feel and the looks we get from those people that let us know what’s going on in those situations.

At this time, I had not begun my healing journey. I was in the midst of a huge pile of my Not Good Enough Stuff. More than anything, I wanted everyone to like me. I couldn’t understand why this girl I barely knew was treating me so poorly.

After several months, I learned from another co-worker that she had gone to my boss prior to my interview with him and told him not to hire me. She told him that she had heard that I was wild in my college days and had a bad reputation.

Well, she was correct and that also had nothing to do with my being successful at the job. Before I knew what she had been telling others about me, I had made it my mission to befriend her.

She was pretty new to advertising sales, and I had a proven track record of success from a previous company. I spent a lot of time trying to help her and teach her my “tricks.”

At that time, I don’t think I’d ever heard the phrase, “what others think of you is none of your business.” I didn’t know how to quit taking it personally when I found out what was being said about me.

When Others Project Their Issues on You

Years later, I was still bothered about what she had said about me and couldn’t understand why she would do that when we didn’t even really know each other. A big part of my healing journey included my learning that what others think of you is none of your business.

This former schoolmate and co-worker lost her father when we were young. I also learned that she had some “wild” times herself. I’m sure we were both trying to fill the void of our fathers with our “wild ways.”

Once I learned about her having also had some “wild” times, I began to understand that she was simply projecting her own issues and self-judgment onto me. What good did it do for me to know what she thought of me or why?  None!

Quit Taking It Personally

She probably had her own insecurities about things that she had done that were similar to my behaviors. It was not my problem. I allowed myself to quit taking it personally.

This is how it works when others are judging us, talking about us, or just treating us poorly. The way we treat others is simply a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.

That’s not a new idea. It falls right in line with the phrases I keep mentioning, “what others think of you is none of your business” and “don’t take it personally,” because it just shows that we project our “issues” onto others. It’s harder to look at ourselves than it is to dump stuff on other people.

My childhood was a prime example of this. There were a lot of emotional traumas throughout my childhood and witnessing of physical trauma. That left me feeling very angry, sad, and lonely.

Unfortunately, that turned into my becoming a bully at school. As with all bullies, I was struggling to love myself and my emotional needs were not being met at home. So, I ripped apart others in attempt to make myself feel better.

There was one girl in particular whom I targeted the most. I’ll call her “Bonnie.” She was different than most of the girls and really seemed to be okay with being different.

Looking back, I felt different but was afraid to show that. So, I had to make her “bad.” I told everybody that she had AIDS. At the time, I didn’t even know what that was, but I knew it would make everybody avoid her and be mean to her.

My heart still hurts for “Bonnie” as she didn’t deserve for me to dump my Not Good Enough Stuff on her. Several years ago, I contacted “Bonnie” and apologized for having bullied her.

We didn’t become friends, but we did have a few conversations about our childhoods and similarities we had. She, too, was on a healing journey as an adult in her thirties. Ironically, she is now a therapist as well.

I doubt “Bonnie” had anybody telling her “what others think of you is none of your business,” or “don’t take anything personally.” What I do know is that her mother contacted my mother and made threats that she would carry out if I continued to bully her daughter. I sincerely apologize to “Bonnie’s” mother as well. Being a mother now, I can’t imagine what that did to “Bonnie’s” mother to see her child hurting as a result of my bullying.

Taking It Personally

Oh, how the tables turned for me in high school. I spent many years telling myself that the negative ways others treated me meant that there was something wrong with me. I truly struggled to learn that what others think of you is none of your business.

Now, that is one of my favorite things to help my psychotherapy clients navigate in therapy. So many of our struggles are a result of what others have said or think about us. The reason that affects us so much is that we are lacking in self-confidence and self-love.

If we truly loved ourselves and had confidence, it wouldn’t matter what anybody said about us. The key to gaining that self-love and confidence is identifying your True Soul Identity. If you want to learn how to do that, read my post 2 Ways to Answer Who am I.

There is a mantra I teach my patients to reinforce the idea that what others think of you is none of your business. For those of you who know me, you know that I have a potty mouth. I’m going to offer the mantra with my potty mouth and an alternative in case that isn’t your cup of tea. Choose the one that works best for you!

What Others Think of You is None of Your Business Mantras:

  1. Not My Shit.
  2. Not My Problem.

Decide which mantra works best for you. Write it down. Tattoo it to your forehead or whatever you need to do to remember it! Apply the mantra every time your mind starts spinning with stories about what you believe others are thinking or saying about you.

Are you wondering how to apply the mantra you choose? Let’s think about a time when you sent a text and didn’t get a response or just got an “ok” as a response. Did your mind start creating stories about why the person didn’t respond or why they just said “ok?”

Applying the Mantras

If so, that is a prime example of when to use your mantra and tell yourself “not my shit” or “not my problem.” There are a million reasons as to why you may have gotten the response or the lack of a response you got, and they probably have nothing to do with you!

There’s also a possibility that the person has an issue with you. Guess what? That is still “not my shit” or “not my problem.” If they have an issue with you, then they should put aside the passive-aggressive behavior to have a conversation with you.

Until and if that happens, it is still “not my shit” or “not my problem.” What it is, though, is that he or she is struggling with something personally and doesn’t know a healthy way to communicate about it. You can’t change that for the person.

When Others Offend You

Throughout your day, you probably frequently decide that the actions of others say something negative about you. I’m sure there are many times when I may pass somebody and give that person what’s perceived as a dirty look.

We all know the “dirty looks” I’m referring to and we’ve all given them at some point. When I think about times I’ve done it, there’s one major example that pops into my head that I was guilty of many times.

For many years, I struggled with having confidence about my physical appearance. If I saw a woman wearing something that I wished I had the confidence to wear, she would quickly get one of my “dirty looks.”

When I did that, it had NOTHING to do with that person. Instead, it was about my own insecurities and wishing I had the confidence she possessed to wear what she was wearing. Now, when I see a woman wearing something that I wouldn’t feel confident wearing, I smile at her or give her a nice, genuine compliment.

I know I’ve been what I believed was the “victim” of those “dirty looks” as well. I used to give a dirty look back. If I’m being honest with myself, there were times when I was feeling gutsy and my wounded inner-child would even say something to the person.

That never went well. Whenever I did that, I ended up looking like a crazy person and for good reason. Instead, I should’ve told myself, “not my shit.”

Their “dirty looks” were “not my shit,” but I sure did make them my shit in a grand way. To the wounded person I was, I send myself such love and compassion for the pain I carried for such a long time.

Human Nature

As I mentioned previously, it is human nature to take things personally. At the same time, we are also told “don’t take anything personally.” Everything we do and think affects us in some way, so telling ourselves or others “don’t take anything personally” tends to fall on deaf ears.

I’m not going to say, “don’t take anything personally.” Instead, I am telling you to recognize how you feel about whatever you are taking personally. Name that feeling. Process that feeling and give yourself what you need.

While you are doing that, use the What Others Think of You is None of Your Business Mantras. Tell yourself, “not my shit” or “not my problem.” Use it and use it often.

When it IS Your Shit

Now, an important thing to be aware of is knowing when it IS your shit or your problem. If the “dirty look” or negative comments bother you, then that shows you an area in which you need to heal. It shows you where you have an insecurity.

An example of that is that, if somebody walked into my office right now and told me that I had the ugliest purple hair they had ever seen, I would not be bothered at all. My hair is red, not purple. So, I would know that rude comment was not true.

However, if I was insecure about my weight and somebody came in and called me “fat,” and that bothered me, it would be a different story. That would show me that I need to work on accepting and loving myself.

It doesn’t mean that the comment was true. It means that I believed it was true or else it wouldn’t have affected me. Again, that’s simply a guide to where more of your healing work can be focused if you take offense to something.

So, choose your What Others Think of You is None of Your Business Mantra, “not my shit” or “not my problem.” Acknowledge when it IS your shit and work towards healing it.

I’d love to hear what you think about my What Others Think of You is None of Your Business Mantras, which one you use, and how it goes when you use it! Comment below to let me know or let me know if you have any questions!


This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.

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Madelynn Guenter

Oh I am so bad at reading between the lines of what someone may have said or actually said… it’s terrible 😣 self doubt is huge for me…. Thank you for all your posts.

Olivia G

I like to say “not my circus, not my monkeys”!