Dear Therapist: Why are they talking about me?

Why are they talking about me

Dear Therapist,

I get the feeling that people often are thinking about me — and not in a good way. Rather, although they are nice to my face, they actually can’t stand me. I hate this feeling. Should I confront them or let it be? What’s the use anyway?

Sincerely, The Talk of the Town

This is a great question — one that many people worry about. Are people talking about me in a bad way behind my back?

Yes, they may be. However, it’s also eye-opening to realize that many people don’t spend that much time thinking about you. It may feel like they are and perhaps when you come up in conversation they are discussing you, but for the most part, I have found, that people are talking about themselves, what is happening in their lives, and maybe a bit about someone else if the person comes up under the first two categories.

There is both relief and disappointment in this idea.

First, relief! I remember the first time somebody told me most people are not thinking about me in the least. I could basically just be me and not be worried in the least about what others thought about me or were thinking about me because they weren’t thinking about me at all. Freedom!

Second, disappointment. “What do you mean they aren’t thinking about me? Aren’t they supposed to by my good friends who love me, but also pass lots of judgement over me?” To be able to recognize that you are not the center of other people’s thoughts and conversations can be disappointing indeed, especially if you are putting in a lot of energy toward these thoughts.

What to do? Take heart. Most people are not thinking about you. And if and when they are, it may be that they are saying good things and not just the bad stuff that you are worried about. To help drive this point a little further, how often are you thinking about others and talking about them? If you say all of the time, then take one step further and ask, “In what context?” Are you thinking about them as related to you? Often when we are talking about others we are really talking about ourselves.

Talking about others happens all the time, and yet sometimes it doesn’t happen at all or not in the context you are thinking of, but rather in relation to something about themselves. Taking this in and accepting it can lead to not only freedom, but also disappointment. Use your own mind to reflect on how you talk about others and make change there first before looking to change others.