The Truth of Me

Once I saw a plaque that said, “What others think of you is none of your business.” At first, I recoiled in disagreement, then I thought of the various ways that what other people think of us is our business, and now, finally, half a decade later, I have come to agree with the sentiment.

During the past few years, different friends have accused me of various heinous character traits. One accused me of being negative, one often told me I was contradictory, and one, more recently, said I was cruel. And somewhere in there, a relative more than once called me an ungrateful bitch.

I’m sure, along the way, others have called me other not-so-nice things, which luckily, I don’t remember. No one (unless of course, she is a negative, contrary, cruel, ungrateful bitch) can bear thinking she is such a ghastly person. I don’t suppose it will come as any surprise that I seldom have anything to do with any of those people any more — it’s too hard to live down to their expectations.

And truly, what they think of me is none of my business. Those adjectives reflect more their own experiences at the time than mine.

On the other hand, I do tend to believe people when they say I am kind, or special, or very interesting. While I am lapping up the accolades, a small voice in the back of my mind whispers, “if you ignore the bad things people say about you, shouldn’t you also ignore the good?”

Ah, but it is easier to live up to the nice things since I do think I am kind. Or at least, I try to be. And I do want to be special and interesting even if those traits are more of a reflection of the speaker’s specialness and interestingness than mine.

So what’s the truth of me? I was going to list what I thought were my not-so-admirable traits along with the good ones, but decided that maybe what I think of me is none of my business, either.

I’ll just be. And leave the thinking to others.

***
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

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.

Is it Your Business What Others Think of You?

Occasionally I see a saying that seems to bring a moment of enlightenment, but the more I see it, the murkier its truth becomes. And so it is with this little gem: What others think of you is none of your business.

To a certain extent, the saying is true. You can’t live your live trying to figure out what others think of you and then work your life around their opinions. You have to consider what you think of you and live your life accordingly. This also works in reverse — what you think of someone is none of their business. So often, we 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.)

But . . . (by now, I’m sure you’ve read enough of my blog to know there is always a but somewhere in my posts.)

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 the child is overly attached to his parents or is angry at them for no apparent reason, the child could be having emotional problems. On the other hand, if the child is embarrassed by his parents (beyond normal bounds) or if the child finds it hard to be around them for some reason, maybe the parents are the ones with the problem.

If you are in a romantic relationship, a marriage, or some other long-term coupling, what your loved one thinks of you is definitely your business. If you think yours is a love match and the other thinks it’s a lust match, you need to know that so you can make informed decisions about your future. If your husband no longer loves you and has developed a roving eye, you certainly need to know how he feels about you so you take appropriate actions, such as getting couple’s therapy. (Unless, of course, you prefer not knowing.) If you’re in a relationship and are ready “for the next level” (whatever that is), and your partner in the relationship wants only your money, you need to know the truth before things go to far.

And of course, if your neighbor hates you enough to want to kill you, that most certainly is your business.

There must be many other examples where this particular saying doesn’t pertain, but you get the point: sometimes a clever message is simply clever and not a great truth.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy 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+