Origin of the proverb.
‘Out of sight out of mind’ is a proverb that has existed since at least the medieval times. Its first printed usage is possibly in a 1562 collection of proverbs by John Heywood. However, Heywood’s project was to create a list of common proverbs. This suggests that the proverb was already in common usage before 1562. So, it is likely to be an even more ancient proverb. Several other proverbs are similar to this one.
Meaning of the proverb.
This proverb, “out of sight out of mind”, means “when we do not see something or someone for a while, we tend to forget about them or it.” Or, at least, this person or thing enters our thoughts less often than when they are always near us.
- We do not think of things we cannot see.
- If we rarely speak to or hear about something or someone, we may forget them.
In other words, “when we are not immediately close to something or to someone, then we are less likely to be thinking about that thing or that person”.
The proverb is often taken to mean that people care most about the things and people that constitute their immediate environment. Thus, it suggests that people are more likely to form strong attachments to people they see frequently.
This proverb suggests a strong link between seeing something and thinking about it.
Expansion of this idea.
There are some other proverbs that have an opposite meaning to ‘out of sight out of mind’. One such proverb is ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, which suggests that we actually think about and feel attached to people more the less that we see of them. Which proverb do you think is the most accurate when it comes to depicting human nature? Or perhaps each can be applied to different circumstances.
Often, the proverb is used as a piece of advice, to encourage people to stay away from a certain person or thing that is upsetting them. If the person stays away for long enough, this proverb suggests, eventually they will forget about whatever it was that was making them feel upset.
Staying informed and staying in touch with loved ones is crucial. This proverb warns us not to lose touch with old friends. Seeing our loved ones all the time online helps us to remember them.
We may think about a certain person every day if we see them every day at work. But, if they stop working with us and we no longer see them, we may soon stop thinking about them altogether. Of course, if someone is our true friend, we will continue to think about them even during long periods of absence.
If we do not set visible reminders of tasks we need to do, we may forget them. Reading world news is important so we know who needs our help and support.
Another example can be given involving tempting objects. If we are trying to give up chocolate, it can help to hide away all of the chocolates in the house. The reasoning goes that if we cannot see them, we will be less likely to want to eat them.
Importance of the proverb.
1. Removing negative thoughts: If something is upsetting us, this proverb suggests a way to get rid of those negative thoughts: all we need to do is to remove ourselves from the presence of the upsetting thing.
2. Understanding human nature: The proverb is often an accurate depiction of how humans form attachments.
3. Motivating us to keep friendships strong: If a friend or loved one has not gotten in contact with us recently, this could be due to the principle of ‘out of sight out of mind’. All we need to do to rekindle that friendship is simply to arrange to meet up!
4. Bringing truth into the open: Sometimes people use the principle of ‘out of sight out of mind’ to bad ends. For instance, perhaps they try and hide negative things they have done from view so that others will not think about them. Remembering this proverb is useful if we want to bring the truth to light.
5. Moving on: When we want to move on after a relationship, it is a good idea to spend a little time apart so that we can start thinking about new things! This proverb encapsulates why that is!
6. Living in the moment: This proverb is all about spending quality time with people so that we stay in each other’s minds.
7. Getting into good habits: The proverb can be used to remind ourselves to fill our sight (and thus our minds) with good and beautiful things – inspirational quotations, improving literature, good people and so on.
‘Out of sight out of mind’s is a proverb that can cause us to scrutinize our attachments and ensure that they are as strong and as healthy as possible.