Why Nobody Cares About You, And You Should Be Glad They Don’t
Nobody cares about you. I don’t mean your parents, of course they do. And of course your dog. And your significant other, if you have one. Maybe even your kids or your siblings, though there’s no guarantee. And maybe a great friend or two.
No, I’m talking about all the rest. Your work team, your customers, your suppliers, your neighbors, your kids’ teachers, the gang at the gym and at church. The people you spend 85% of your time with, who make up 90% of the entries in your contacts database and 95% of the people in your LinkedIn catalog. 99% of your Facebook and Twitter friends. They don’t really care about you. None of them. Not really.
Basically, the vast majority of human interactions we have are with people who don’t really care about us.
And that, my ‘friends,’ is a wonderful thing. Here’s why.
My Life has Been Very Eventful: Some of It Actually Happened.
For me, almost all the stomach-churning fear and angst I have experienced in my life consisted of fictional plots hatched in the dark places in my own mind. They nearly always featured those 90%-plus people in my life. A huge chunk of my life’s emotional energy was spent on winning fictional arguments and fights with them—though now, finally, I spend a lot less time on that.
If only I could have realized more fully, earlier on in my life, the One Big Truth, how much more productive I could have been! And what is the One Big Truth?
They don’t really give a damn. Any more than I do about them. Oh sure I like interacting with them, most of them, most of the time. And I actually don’t think badly about hardly any of them—they mean well, mostly. It’s just that, I’ve got my own issues to worry about, and I honestly don’t spend that much time focusing on them.
And, surprise surprise, they spend about as much time focused on me as I do focused on them. Which is not a lot. And they probably don’t think any more badly about me than I think badly about them, which is not much. The main thing is: I just think about myself more than I do about them. And they do the same.
The Freedom That Lies in Realizing No One Really Cares
Again, I don’t mean we’re all selfish, mean-spirited people. But I do mean that we’re all pretty much wrapped up in ourselves. And that turns out to be an enormous, high-potential gift.
Because: imagine doubling the quality of attention you show to other people. Not even the quantity—just the quality. No more time—just more connection. What if you could really connect with your customer. Just for two minutes. For two minutes, to engage in a way that is not dominated by your desire to close the deal, to advance the sale, to get them to like you.
What if, for two minutes, you could actually care about them? About how they are feeling, about why they’re thinking what they’re thinking, about how it must feel to be them in that moment.
What if you could offer the fine gift of your attention?
What would happen if someone gave a damn about you for just two minutes? How would it feel?
You Can Radically Improve Lives in Two Minutes a Day
Any time you want, you can stop the noise, get off the Bozo Bus, and reach out and touch someone. All it takes is the gift of your attention.
It seems to me that the reason we don’t give the gift of attention is that we are trapped in the fictional belief that we must gain the approval of others. Thus we are afraid of what they think of us.
The truth is: they can’t think good or ill of us if they’re not even thinking of us at all. Which means we are free—gloriously free—to share our attention. No one else is claiming it.
And if you give it away, you’ll get something back. It’s a universal truth.
Declare the obvious—your own freedom from the myth of others’ judgment. Then go use that freedom to fix your little corner of the world. You might even find that someone cares just a little bit about you.
As you know, I love how you think. Once again, you have my day off to a good start! Your words this morning have me thinking again – thank you!
This reminds me of the ARK principle: an Act of Random Kindness.
I think you are spot on when you talk about human interaction being, in some respects quite superficial and shallow, but the truth of it is that we don’t want to admit to this and keep up a charade. I find myseld becoming more restrained in what I say as well to fit in which always feel unnatural and rather strained. I think we should focus on quality and not quantity in our conversations and trying to form relationships that are not always to our (c0mmercial) advantage.
Again another thought-provoking post and thanks.
I get lots of posts and news letters, very few of them get read all the time. There just isn’t enough time. Yours is the exception. Your posts tend to delve a little deeper and a little more uncomfortably occassionally, into the matters of trust, intimacy and relationship, (These all can get messy).
This post is no different. Just when I thought I knew where you were going and was reminding myself to "not take self too seriously," you remind us of the value of taking the other party in our interaction seriously.
In one of my workshops on communication, I ask people as someone once asked me, to remember what it was like when the met the person they love or that they fell in love with. How they hung on every word we said and vice a versa. When we then connect with that feeling we know what if feels like when we listen and connect with others.
Keep up the great work
… free — gloriously free — to shore our attention. Loved this line! Thanks, Charlie.
Well, make my day. It’s really nice when you put a little something out there and find you’re not alone, far from it. Thanks all.
Every parent would be wise to remember this and teach it to their children. A lot of unnecessary heartache would be avoided. I use the “red ball in the road” metaphor with my own children. A red ball is in the road. Two puppies come by. As they tussle and play, the ball gets knocked around, maybe into a mud puddle, maybe it is punctured. Was there harm or damage to the red ball? Did the puppies intentionally cause harm to the red ball? People can identify with all 3 characters in this story. There are lessons from each role. Being compassionately aware of others without obsessing about our imagined value to them provides freedom and responsibility. Thanks for this blog.
Sad and pathetic, really. If you don’t care about other people, you won’t learn anything about experiences beyond your own.
Iam, I think you miss the point, which is simply that we needn’t be prisoners of our own neurotic beliefs that others are obsessed with us – they’re not.
Charles H. Green
(from iPhone and possibly speech to text)
Trusted Advisor Associates
I already had friends any way, since somebody finds me inferior I stopped caring about being fascinating. Though I’m sticking to my ethics, I’ll edit them to be more focussed on welfare than other types of selflessness, but I’ll keep it extremely self-reliant and extremely self-sufficient. So here’s the deal, and I won’t say too much: extreme consideration in the welfare without too much welfare, but as many causes as possible, including conservation, and anti-government hippy foundations. Not to start trouble of course, but done as discreetly as possible, damn, I knew people are sad and physically sick from extreme selflessness, I should’ve known better! But there’s one ethic that will never be better again (because it’s as good as it can get), I call my new ethic: worldly welfare (extreme care for the ecology and (without love or dislike or hate) extreme consideration for necessity of when anyone and myself needs food and clothes, even money (charity) without caring too much for any particular person. 😀
Another ethic is caring 11% about myself, without the selfless hanky panky.
It’s a good thing there is one, one religion I care about so far: Protagoras’s ancient divinity of unsurety, though I care a lot about not offending anyone because of it, and I always behave agnostic in public but it’s not necessarily religious. This is what you get for a fake religion, and it serves you right by being kind to you if you stop caring about fake behaviour, God needs a break, furthermore even if he was real or not real, it makes no sense to keep acting religious all the time, so once again you should stop caring about churchies who detest you.
Finally I saw myself in the mirror, I see a face only I care about. When no one cares about me, it’s not that I’m extremely detestable, because they care about my selfish morals, or Satanism, does that sound to you like people like me? Of course it doesn’t, but using it to bully other people (but being inspired by my silly ideas) except me, it turns out people hate other people besides myself, not everything is about you, or them, or even the bullies inspired by forces of evil, for one thing, a bully is evil and only cares about your evil behaviour, for another, bullies hate other people besides yourself. That’s all.
We are selfish. We demand without giving. Give without expecting anything in return.
Altruists give without receiving, except they receive from their mothers. Your mum is likely to offer you stuff she got from shopping, even if it sucks, take it humbly and consider it done out of the money she’s got, it’s not mum to blame for her crappy things, she’s saving up for nicer things. Just saying that’s all.
“…winning fictional arguments and fights…”. I didn’t expect to see that here. I all too familiar with those. Great advice about reaching out to clients.
I came to this conclusion while stoned one night. ‘Nobody thinks about us as much as we think about ourselves’ and slowly its changed my life. I am only young still but really if you want to be free u have to just let go.
This is depressing but similar to what dale Carnegie was saying, great post tho
Depressing on the face of it, yes, but then on reflection it looks more liberating. We’re free of the prison of others’ judgment, is how I’ve come to look at it.
You are so right worrying about what others think not going to work but have empathy. Thanks for the article.