The truth is that the value we set upon the opinion of others, and our constant endeavor in respect of it, are each quite out of proportion to any result we may reasonably hope to attain.
This attention to other people’s attitude may be regarded as a kind of universal mania which everyone inherits. In all we do, almost the first thing we think about is, what will people say; and nearly half the troubles and bothers of life may be traced to our anxiety on this score.
It is the anxiety which is at the bottom of all that feeling of self-importance, which is so often mortified because it is so very morbidly sensitive.
It is solicitude about what others will say that underlies all our vanity and pretension, and all our show and swagger too. Without it, there would not be a tenth part of luxury which exists.
Pride in every form, however varied their kind or sphere, are at bottom nothing but this – anxiety about what others will say.
And what sacrifices it costs!
Tacitus says, the lust of fame
is the last that a wise man shakes off.
The only way of putting an end to this universal folly
is to see clearly that it is a folly;
and this may be done by recognizing the fact that
most of the opinions in men’s heads
are apt to be false,
and so in themselves unworthy of attention;
further, that other people’s opinions
can have very little real and
positive influence upon us In most circumstances and affairs of life.