How do I stop caring what others think?

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    Dear anita,

    yesterday I went back to the river and sat on the stone to write. It felt very relaxing to hear the sounds of the stream and write my thoughts down.

    I think I feel more calm being at the countryside. At the other hand, I also draw inspiration from the city.

    My mother broke her leg while trying to step over a windbreak at the beach. She must have stumbled somehow. Her foot was twisted in almost a 45° degree angle. Luckily my aunt was also there and she knew what to do. We called the emergency number 112 and my mother was brought to the hospital. Her foot was operated there. It will take some time to heal.

    About the men: there were some who only asked me for directions and I am always happy to help out, if I can. Others had made comments about my clothing or appearence and I did not say much to them at all.

    Then there were also two who wanted to talk to me. One I met when I was out on a morning walk. I had woken up too early about 4:45 or so and decided to go outside for a walk by the river. As it started to lightly rain I sat down at a bench under some trees. I was just looking at the water, concerned with my own thoughts. But I was feeling calm and even good.

    The man said to me “good morning” and I said “morning” back, but I didn’t take much notice of him, I was just in my own head. I did not think about him, just answered to be polite and continued to look at the water. He was standing closely for a few minutes, I thought he did some exercises or something and didn’t take much notice of him.

    Then he came to me and said “Can I sit down?” I replied: “There are more benches right there…” (I know I am a weirdo, haha) So he said: “Ah, so you are taken.” And I told him that I just wanted to go for a walk by myself and was not interested in a conversation. He continued to try to initiate the conversation and asked if I am studying here and that he only wanted to talk. But I continued to say that I wanted to be by myself. At the and he asked “And you also don’t like to go running?” And said “What a pity” and left.

    Maybe I should have given him a chance, I don’t know. I was just not expecting to be approached and I was completely lost in my own thoughts. Also, I hadn’t even combed my hair or taken a shower yet, kind of weird that he was so persistent. But maybe he was just lonely. I think he said something about just moving here, I don’t remember. I hope I was not too mean to him.

    If someone tries to talk to me out on the street I am very apprehensive. My first reaction is just: please leave me alone, I want to be by myself. I feel unshure about where this will go and I am not good at meeting new people. It is easier when somebody just asked for directions, because then everything is more clear: what they want from me and that they will not want to get to know me any better.

    There was also an old men who tried to talk to me. He said, commenting on the path where I was walking: “this path is much nicer, a softer underground”. I just politely smiled and said yes, it is a nice path, but I walked away quickly. He asked if I am coming from work and things like that. I politely answered but also quickly walked away.

    Maybe it could be nice to talk to a person from the neighbourhood, to just have a nice conversation, get to know another outlook on life. But I am not trusting people easily. It has happened to me that I was sitting on a bench reading and then an old man came by and asked if he can sit down, his legs are really hurting. I thought “poor old man” and let him sit. Then he said some things (I did not fully understand, because it was in Spain and at that time I wasn’t so good at speaking spanish), but he also touched my leg. I put away his hand and he did it again. Then someone came by and said to him “You found a new friend, huh” and they were laughing. I felt humiliated and went away, but I couldn’t go too far, because I had to pick someone up.

    Things like that have happened. Another man who touched my leg, after I had talked to him. Someone who just grabbed my butt when I was walking by at night. Men saying suggestive things. Meeting and engaging with people on the street doesn’t seem to be a good idea.

    Those two men I met didn’t seem bad in any way. The young man was even good looking, maybe a bit too persistent though. I just don’t know. My calmness was gone after meeting the young man. My singleness became very clear to me again, which I hadn’t thought so much before.

    But now, being at the countryside and spending more time in nature, I feel calmer again. In any case, I want to keep my mental stability and men seem like a threat to it.


    Dear Lily:

    Your mother twisting her foot and breaking her leg while trying to step over a windbreak reminds me how I badly twisted my own foot a year ago or longer by trying to stand up following being seated in a reclining chair- I lost my footing and that was enough to lead to my inability to take my daily walks for days!

    I feel good reading how calm you feel at the countryside.

    “I want to keep my mental stability and men seem like a threat to it”- so keep them away from you, just like you have done in the examples you gave. Your number one priority should be your mental stability. Protect it and cherish it.



    Dear anita,

    yes it was weird that she broke her leg over such a simple thing. You know, it was all very crazy! The rescue service even sent a helicopter for her. Maybe because it was at the beach surrounded by a national park and forest.

    But seeing how adventurous my mother is, it was strange that it happened in this way. Two days before we had gone on a path that was not looked after, with ferns bigger than any of us growing all over the place. It was like in a jungle! You could have used a machete to get through…

    Or sometimes she climbs on trees or such things, even though she is over sixty. I have to say that I like my mother and we got along better recently. She seems to be much happier after she had therapy.

    I hope that your foot is fully healed again by now. But it seems so, as you are able to go for your walks again.

    It was all o.K. at my parents home. I cooked for them and cleaned a bit and I also had some time to spend in nature. My father was so nice to repair my Laptop (even though I will have to get a new one sooner than later, as this one is over 12 years or 14? old) and I am thankful of that. At the other hand I sometimes got easily stressed or annoyed by him. Because he just starts to talk to me when I was busy with my own thoughts or something else and about a topic I have no clue of. I kind of feel sorry for him as he seems to be a lonely person. He can be nice, but also difficult and very stubborn and not very open to new ideas.

    Now I am back and I want to focus on solving my own life problems again. Mainly my studies and work. I have to get back on track.

    When it comes to the men, these experiences with men harassing me mostly happened long ago, even before the man from the dormitory. Still, I like to be careful. Never again do I want to experience such hurtful relationships with men again. Sometimes I still think about it and get sad and upset. Recently, I also get angry when thinking about the man from the dormitory. The worst thing is that he thought he treated me so well and I took on the blame for everything. He was so insensitive and brash!He overstepped my boundaries again and again and I was blaming myself!

    At least now, with the man from the bench/morning walk situation, I did not feel guilty for saying no to him, like I would in the past. I can say no whenever I want an to whomever I want without having to apologize.

    Recently, I am becoming also more interested in feminist topics. People should all be treated equally and with respect, no matter of their gender. Some of the lines from the man from the dormitory echo in my head and make me so angry! And how entitled he felt!

    At some point though, I would like to find a partner. But it has to go very slowly and I do not want to rush myself ever again to please a man. Better to stay single than to be with a man who doesn’t respect you!!!



    Dear Lily:

    I just read your reply on another thread, and your reply is so good (I am excited about it) that I have to repeat it here: “Often I also thought of myself as toxic. I do not like this stereotyping of people as toxic or ‘the bad guy’ as you described yourself here. This is a very black and white world view, but humans are more complex. We all behave badly or ‘toxic’ from time to time. But that does not mean we are bad or ‘toxic’..

    “The important thing now is to learn and grow from this and not make the same mistake again. But it is also inevitable in life, that you will sometimes mess up and make a mistake.. I should take my own advice as well, haha”-

    – when you, Lily, feel distress next time you make a mistake, or maybe-a-mistake, that distress will almost take over this rational thinking you expressed so very well today (I couldn’t have expressed it any better). When you feel that force/ distress, calm yourself best you can and expect that it will take a bit of time to return to calm. Try to not think about the topic at hand before you are calm again. At a later time, when you are calm again- then think about the topic and what to do about it.

    The reason you are so capable in giving excellent advice to others (besides being as intelligent and as empathetic as you are) is that you are not distressed. So you see, you can solve your own problems from a calm place. Next time you feel distressed- wait, don’t think. Postpone thinking until you are calm again.

    Regarding your post here, on your thread: when you described the hikes you took with your mother, and other things previously, it is clear to me that you live in a similar landscape/ climate to me, similar vegetation and weather. It’s a good thing your mother is happier since she had therapy. I understand your annoyance with being talked to when you are busy with your own thoughts and you don’t want to be talked to, especially about topics you have no clue about. I know the experience.

    You helped your parents during your visit, enjoyed parts of it, and now you are back to the house you share with your roommate.

    You wrote: “Never again do I want to experience such hurtful relationships with men again”- the good thing is that you don’t have to, and you won’t! You will not again take on the blame for everything. (When you feel guilty about something, take your time to return to calm and don’t think about the topic until you are calm again).

    “I can say no whenever I want and to whomever I want without having to apologize”- it makes my day to read this sentence.

    “People should all be treated equally and with respect”- yes, including you. You should be treated equally and with respect!

    “Better to stay single than to be with a man who doesn’t respect you!!!”- Agreed.

    – You made my day, Lily!


    • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by anita.

    Dear anita,

    thank you for your response. I am glad that you liked my reply to the other member (hopefully it also helped them a bit).

    During the past year I learned a lot and understood some things better. My therapist helped me with understanding things a lot. This very black and white thinking, I also do it, even though I wanted to be a person with an open mind. My parents had kind of a black and white worldview.

    So I thought, because I made mistakes, that it is prove that I am a bad or toxic person. And then I kind of gathered evidence against myself, asking myself: am I bad because of this? And it drove me completely crazy. I did not trust in myself. And if others (seemingly) gave me weird looks, it was further proof that I am bad or not trustworthy.

    You are right, I am capable of being rational in my calm state. And it is good advice to wait when I am in a distressed state, until I become calm again.

    I am still wondering, how did I get into this extreme place of distress for many months with the K/dormitory situation? I think the root of the problem was thinking that I had no value and because of that, trying to please others and overstepping my own boundaries so that I then felt uncomfortable. Gladly, I know myself better now. And next time I meet someone, I will do things at my own pace and set boundaries. I very much hope that I will be able to do that in real life!

    However, I still feel sad about how things ended with K. He was not perfect, but I also played my part in it and surely I was not easy to deal with. I wish I could have handled it all more maturely. But I was going insane back then and maybe it was best to end contact, even if it was in a bad way. Only after getting away from this situation I was able to become calm again, become myself again. I hope that he is doing o.K.

    About not getting into hurtful relationships again: the key to this is staying true to myself and being authentic. Not trying to please others! Having some boundaries and standards. I think I have become a bit better at it already. Now I think: if they don’t like me, they are simply not for me. Now I feel a little bit more relaxed about it. And I know exactly what I want in a relationship. The most important thing for me is to get to know someone slowly. With K and the man in the dormitory, I never fully understood who they were as a person. And that lead to a lot of confusion and pain. I was not able to evaluate the situation because of this.

    Recently I have watched some youtube videos about setting boundaries and self respect by a youtuber called Breeny Lee.  Her speeches are very motivating and I agree with her on a lot of things. It has helped me.

    And about respect: I have to respect myself first, which I didn’t in the past. but I think I am at a better path now.


    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome. “Gladly, I know myself better now. And next time I meet someone, I will do things at my own pace and set boundaries. I very much hope that I will be able to do that in real life!”- I am confident that you are able. I know that you are not the same person that you were then. You were good then and you are good now, but you were ignorant then, but you are aware and informed now.

    No doubt ending it with K was a good choice. Here is the evidence: “Only after getting away from this situation I was able to become calm again, become myself again”. Your guilt about him is not justified, it’s fueled by old beliefs, not by reality. In reality you did not harm him.

    “About not getting into hurtful relationships again: the key to this is staying true to myself and being authentic. Not trying to please others!.. And I  know exactly what I want in a relationship. The most important thing for me is to get to know someone slowly.. I have to respect myself first”- beautifully said.

    I am smiling right now as I just had an image of you in a relationship, a healthy one.


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