Wonderful Outlook or Being Negative?

It’s a special thing to have written a book that touches people’s lives. When a friend wanted to read Grief: The Great Yearning, I thought it would be uncomfortable for both of us afterward — it is such a personal book, where I turn myself inside out to show the truth of me and my grief, that I wasn’t sure a fledgling friendship could hold up under those powerful revelations, but my fears were unwarranted. She was able to see herself in many of the situations, and was able to understand some of what she has been feeling but was never able to put into words. And she thinks I’m not only a wonderful writer but an incredible person.

Oddly, as much as I appreciate her esteem, (and as much as I wanted to say eagerly, “tell me more!”) I don’t feel as if her opinion of me has anything to do with me.

SayingOnce a long time ago, I saw a plaque, “What others think of you is none of your business.” I thought it a silly saying because of course, what others think of you is your business. What a child thinks of his parents is often a key to his emotional health, so what the child thinks of his parents is definitely the parents’ business. If you are in a romantic relationship, a marriage, or some other long-term coupling, what your loved one thinks of you is your business. If you think yours is a love match and the other only lusts after you or your money, you need to know that so you can make informed decisions about your future. If someone hates you enough to want to harm you, then definitely that is your business.

I often think of that saying now when I get a compliment or a rare insult. If one person thinks I have a wonderful outlook on life and another thinks I am being negative . . . well, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. So neither opinion is truly my business. It is their business what they think of me, just as it is my business what I think of them. It’s not that I think hurtful things, but so often, the things I like or enjoy about someone are the very things they hate about themselves and they would be appalled I noticed their charming (and not so charming) peccadilloes.

We can’t live our lives trying to figure out what others think of us and then work our life around their opinions. We have to consider what we think of us and live life accordingly. Conversely, we often feel the need to tell others what we think of them — simply to help them, of course — but if what we think of them is none of their business, we might as well keep our opinions to ourselves. (And perhaps save a friendship in the process.)

Still, it is nice to get a compliment, and it is especially nice when the compliment concerns such a special book as Grief: The Great Yearning.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

7 Responses to “Wonderful Outlook or Being Negative?”

  1. Wanda Says:

    I happen to love that saying and I agree with it completely. It’s taken me a long time to adopt it as part of my philosophy. I slip from time to time and try to change my attitude or whatever to improve another’s view of myself. Sooner or later I remind myself that their opinion is their’s alone.

    While some of your scenarios are reasonable, parents should care how their child views them in an objective way, for instance, I think on the whole the saying is a good one.

    I think you’re an amazing writer, I’ve loved all of your books. While I haven’t ever suffered the grief you have suffered with I’ve also never felt the depth of love and attachment you have felt either. Your ways of expressing your feelings have brought a lot of comfort to those who share those feelings.

    I offer you my opinion for exactly what it’s worth, not much really. I believe you wrote your books for your own pleasure and catharsis and the opinions of others concerning them is an extra perk.

    However, I treasure our friendship, even though it’s a long distance one and I sincerely hope to change that one day. I also hope with all my heart to read another book written by you, dear friend. I’m hoping to watch you dance, one day, as well… to view the joy on your face.

    Hugs dear.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I treasure your friendship too, and long before I ever leave this state, I will come up there to meet you in person.

      I might be dancing at the beginning of December (Hawaiian) and maybe again in March (jazz). Just a single dance each time, but still, a dance is a dance! (And if ever you come to this area, you can always come see me at class.)

      Someday I will write again. I’d hoped to be well into Ms. Cicy’s Nightmare by now, but life has a way of making its own plans.

  2. leesis Says:

    I too love that saying Pat because others opinions are made with very little knowledge.Kids of course are different.

    I’ve experienced very strong opinions of opposite extremes about me all my life. The compliments are lovely but I am often put on a pedestal which makes me very uncomfortable and the insults were often hurtful.

    At least they were until my late twenties when I figured out people were not giving well informed, well reasoned useful opinions but rather niggly and often bigoted judgements they feel they must share. These are the times I actually use this saying :).

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Even opinions made with knowledge aren’t important. Because no matter how well someone knows you, it can’t be as well as you know yourself. Besides, it’s an opinion from the outside, and we live inside where it counts.

      It’s always good to hear from you! I think of you often with gratitude for all your wisdom during the worst of my grief. Thank you, my friend.

  3. Carol Says:

    Well said, Pat! I’ve seen that graphic before and contemplated its wisdom. I’m not so sure I believe it’s none of my business so much as of little interest or concern to me. If we’re in business, then what others think of us could be important to know. 🙂 But personally, the older I get the less I care what others think of me. Of course, I’m a pretty non-controversial kind of gal so I doubt I inspire much criticism.

    As a writer, I want to be able to write without feeling pressure to please. I hope people enjoy or at least appreciate what I write, but I know favour is a subjective thing so, once published, I don’t think I’d want to read reviews, good ones or bad. On the other hand, hearing directly from readers that a story has touched them would be very special.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Yes, definitely, when one is in business, it is important what others think of us! I suppose when it comes to writing, it is important to know to some extent — for example, if people don’t like the book because of too many errors — once the book is published, it doesn’t really help to know what they think. One bad review I got was because the woman didn’t like the genre. Not much I can do about that! But yes, it is nice to know when a story has touched someone. Someday, I’m sure, you will have that experience. I do know that the commments you have left here have touched a lot of people.

      • Carol Says:

        That’s bemusing to hear. I never think of my comments made here as reaching anyone but you. Then again, I’ve occasionally said on my own blog that one never really knows who may read or be affected by our words when they’re sent out into cyberspace.

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