I found myself in a situation recently where I found myself thinking “I don’t care what anyone else thinks.” And then I thought “someone might consider that sentiment arrogant,” and I had to decide whether it was arrogant, because that’s not good.
I can think of at least three meanings for ”I dont care what anyone else thinks.”
There’s an ”I dont care what anyone else thinks” that’s sociopathic. It says, in effect, “I’m okay, you’re not okay.” It’s a reflexive refusal to examine one’s self and thus to consider change.
Then there’s an ”I dont care what anyone else thinks” that’s reflective and, I think, healthy. That’s the situation I was in.
I had messed up. When I realized I messed up, I apologized and started doing damage control – that is, controlling the damage I’d done, not trying to manipulate perceptions to suffer the least possible damage myself. Some people accepted my apology grudgingly if at all, and kept sending tacit messages that they still thought I was a conniving low-life no matter what they’d formerly said.
Of them, I have to say “I don’t care what anyone else thinks.” If others can’t or won’t forgive, or if they lack enough people-sense to give credit to the good motives I had wading in and messing up, it’s no longer my problem. I’ve done all I can, and life’s too short to spend too much of fretting about how others react or accept it.
Then there’s an ”I don’t care what anyone else thinks” that’s positively saintly, and almost super-human.
There’s a story from Abba Macarius, one of the Desert Fathers, of a monk being told by his abba (spiritual father) to go to a cemetery and praise the dead. The monk did so, then returned to the abba. “What did the dead respond?” said the abba. Why, nothing of course, said the monk. They were dead! “Then go back and curse the dead,” said the abba. Same thing. The monk returned. “What did the dead respond?” Still nothing. They’re dead! Concluded the abba: “I want you to be like those dead, giving no response to praise or blame.”