Hello everybody, welcome to episode 126 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and it’s good to be here with you today. Hoping you feel the same. Today we’ll be taking a look at a regarding just how much other people are thinking about us. Do the things we do really matter to others? Is it really true that nobody cares? Just how many people are really paying the attention we might think they are?
This is a big question many of us face as we age and I’m excited to break it down today. Here’s what’s on this listener’s mind…
QUESTION: “I’m studying personal development more these days, and one thing I’ve heard a few times isn’t sitting well with me. It’s the idea that no one else really cares about what we’re doing as much as we do. I have a hard time believing that people are so preoccupied with their own lives that they truly don’t think at all about me and what I’m doing. Maybe I just feel this way because it’s a sad truth I’m not willing to admit? I’m curious to hear your perspective on this.“
Learning About Personal Development
Yeah, I remember doing a little extra thinking about this, being a little taken by surprise when I first heard about it. I think it’s a realization that everyone comes to at some point, and for some people, that point is when they’re learning about personal development as you are.
It took me a while to realize that it’s not always The Greg Show, which I think is a combination of the years I spent working as an actor and the fact that I was just raised around supportive friends and family. But enough about me.
“Nobody Cares”: The Attention People Pay to Themselves
My perspective on this? Generally, I think it’s true.
I’m sure if you turn the tables for a minute you’ll find that you don’t spend all of your time waiting to hear what’s next for those in your life and cheering them on the way they cheer themselves on, investing in them the way they invest in themselves, and paying the attention to them that they pay to themselves.
However, I also feel as though the drastic-ness with which this fact is presented in self-development reading and therefore how jarring of a realization it can be are slightly overblown.
Care, Attention, and Focus
The thing is that all the people in your life, and how much “attention” they pay to you or how much they “care” about you come in tiers. Depending on what tiers these people fall in, they focus on you in different amounts.
So to put out this all-encompassing label of “people don’t care about you as much as you think they do” is irresponsible.
Obviously your mother is going to to root for you and pay a lot more attention to you, and gain more joy from you doing well than your third cousin is.
Your best friend from childhood is going to care more than the friend you just made last week whose last name you can’t even pronounce yet.
Family, distant family, friends, close friends, acquaintances, strangers, fans. There are many tiers.
The Depth and Complexity of Tiers
And the tiers go beyond level of closeness to you. They stretch into the level of closeness those people have with themselves.
Some people are more secure, others are more insecure. Some people compare themselves to others, some people don’t. Some people have a lot going on in their own lives, some people have very little.
These factors also determine how much time or desire they have to spend on you or anyone else. Generally, the more value people create for themselves in their own lives, the less time they’ll have to think about you, but the happier they’ll be for you.
The less value people create for themselves, the more time they’ll have to think about you, and they’ll either live vicariously through you, or be jealous, or wish to see you fail so they’ll feel not as left behind.
There are a million different degrees determining all of this.
Different People, Different Interpretations
And keep in mind that for all of these people spending different amounts of time, energy and enthusiasm on you, they all have different interpretations of who you are. You show people different sides, you bond over different things.
A strong experience you have with someone might be the lens they always see you through, in spite of how much you change over time. So as with everything, there’s no blanket answer, just a lot of gray area. Hooray for never having concrete answers about anything.
However, more important than getting my opinion about this or the truth about this is considering why it doesn’t sit well with you.
If this concept doesn’t sit well with you because it’s confusing and you’re not sure if it makes sense logically, then hopefully I just shed some light on that by only giving you more to think about.
But if it doesn’t sit well with you because it hurts, that’s more of an issue worth exploring.
Nobody Cares: Does It Make You Feel Hurt or Uncomfortable?
So if you don’t like feeling like nobody cares because it hurts or makes you feel uncomfortable, start there and lean into that.
Ask yourself why you need people to care. Reflect on how many things you might be doing for what you perceive to be the approval of others without necessarily realizing it. Shine the light on yourself by being honest about if you’re expecting more attention from others than you’re currently giving or would be willing to give them yourself.
Getting to the bottom of any underlying pain would really be the priority, and you can start this alone or of course consult the help of a therapist.
“Nobody Cares” vs. Those Who Love You
But whether or not that’s the case, mind you, there’s a difference between people caring about you and caring about your accomplishments.
Will many people spend time wondering what move you’re going to make next, what you’re going to accomplish next? Not really. They’re working hard to keep things afloat in their own lives and don’t have that kind of time on their hands.
But that doesn’t mean that these same people don’t care about who you are as a person and your emotional wellbeing. Just as you are not the sum of your accomplishments, the value other people find in you is not the sum of your accomplishments.
While very few people care what you’re out there doing, there are plenty of people who love you and will be there if they know you need them.
See that everyone? Even when you feel like nobody cares, there’s light at the end of that tunnel after all, as there often is.
To the man who sent this question in, I thank you. I hope this was able to help, I hope you have a new perspective and I hope you’re able to successfully identify what part of this concept is bugging you and the inspiring truth behind it.
Everyone else, if you’d like my help with something you’re struggling with on the show, you know I’m always here. Shoot us an email at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com telling us whats going on.
We’ll take your question there and do our best to help you out.
That brings us to the end of today. We’ll be back soon with another episode – can’t wait to see you there! Take care everyone.