A few months ago I wrote a post about traveling ‘lite’ with a toddler and got a well written but negative email response. The writer eloquently told me to stay home or leave my son with a relative. He told me in no uncertain terms that other travelers did not appreciate young children and that my child was too young to appreciate travel.
My face actually flushed with embarrassment reading the email.
It’s hard not to care about what other people think of you.
Hard but required if you want to make some against the grain choices like living with less stuff.
I’ve been thinking about this concept for a while now and why the many choices we have made in the last year or so are now just a part of our lifestyle. Why haven’t we gone back to shopping? Why haven’t we reverted back to buying more and upgrading? Why haven’t we moved into a bigger and nicer home? We’re out of consumer debt and have the means. Everyone we know here on the island has a bigger home than us and at least one car. We’re definitely an outlier model in our circle of family and friends.
One reason we’ve stayed the course: we don’t care what other people think.
I don’t say that in a harsh way either. I do listen to the opinions of people close to me and my family. I listen and I know that we’re on different paths. Our choices work for our family and their choices work for them. Neither of them is better than the other just different.
Rayna over at the Suburban Minimalist is back to blogging (yeah!) and had a wonderful post the other day about developing a thicker skin. She writes honestly about being a sensitive soul and worrying about the reactions of others. Her follow up here is also worth a read.
I’m in complete agreement with Rayna that one of the greatest ways to stop caring about what other people think is to realize, they probably aren’t thinking about you at all. Most of us have our head down and are fairly absorbed with our own goings on. We barely notice if a friend got a hair cut or if there’s a stain on their shirt. Make the connection: if you’re not thinking about them, they’re probably not thinking about you.
So what do you do when someone does provide their negative opinion about your choice? I usually just let it be. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind that is already made up. So instead of getting defensive or hurt I just let it go. Once you get into the habit of not caring it’s easy.
Not caring made it easy to shrug off a comment from a neighbor that we shouldn’t be living in a small flat with a toddler.
Not caring made it easy to just say “we’ll see” when a local shop owner told me we wouldn’t make it through the winter without a car.
It also helps that I have a small circle of friends. Both here on the island and that I stay in touch with through email and on Skype. I quit Facebook and that helps too. I’m in touch with people that I have a close relationship. They care about me. I’m not sitting through coffee with a Frenemy and seething at the veiled insults being doled my way.
Another thing: I’m older. I’m more confident in who I am, what I want and what makes me happy. I’m still not immune to snarky comments or cutting remarks but it’s much easier to not let them bother me too much. Because worrying about those things and putting energy into them is a waste of my valuable time.
After reading that not nice email telling me to stop including Henry in our travel plans I did not print it out, or reply, or reconsider my plans of a family tour of Turkey this spring.
I deleted it.
How do you deal with other people’s comments on your choices? Do you laugh them off, cry or barely notice them? Has anyone had negative comments about their choice to live with less stuff?
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