The older I get the less I care about other people’s opinions.
I suppose that might be why my grandma calls everyone an asshole.
But jokes aside, this blog post is about both opinions the concrete ones, and the perceived ones too. Both the ones that make us cringe when they come across our face, and the ones the majority I’d say) that we think are there, but maybe aren’t. The untold ones.
I often find myself asking:
Is this where I should be in my life according to everyone else, given my age?
Is my career choice respectable enough in the eye of others?
Am I making enough money for everyone to see/judge?
Does everyone else see me as a loony because of my lifestyle choices?
The list goes on.
So why are we so worried about what other people MIGHT think? Sure, a certain level of comparison among others is normal. A good dose of self-reflection is healthy too. But it’s when we let outside voices take over that we find ourselves in a down spiral of endless doubt.
I always remember this great childhood metaphor which represents this situation:
A man, his son and their donkey loaded with supplies were walking on the way home.
People saw them and said :”That’s so stupid, why wouldn’t they use the donkey to carry themselves as well. That’s what donkeys are for.”
So the father put the son on top of the donkey and kept walking.
People said” Why would this man only put his son up on the donkey and walk himself? The kid is young and has more energy, so the old man should be the one being carried.”
So the father took the son off the donkey and got on the donkey himself.
People said” Can you believe how selfish this man is? Taking the easy ride and making his poor son walk”
So the father sat himself AND his son on the donkey with all the supplies.
People said :” Have you seen that cruel man? He’s overloading the poor animal!’
So the father got himself and his son off the donkey, took the supplies off the animal and carried them on his own back.
People laughed and said” Look at him! He has a donkey but instead he’s doing all the work!”
Moral of the story: no matter what you do, people will always judge. We judge ourselves very harshly too, when others aren’t even thinking of it.
The solution is to turn inwards. Like yoga teaches us in many ways, we need to develop a certain understanding of ourselves, our own needs, wants, reactions and priorities that will allow us to, simply put, be more focused on ourselves rather than others. It’s a simple concept yet a very powerful one. Ounce we can do that, we are able to take judgments (whether they are internal or external) lightly, AKA not personally.
Often times I see students in a public yoga class making the class all about other people around them. They are looking around doubt fully because they are lost, they are shy, they are unsure if they understood well and they don’t want to make a “mistake”.
The truth is, life is like a public yoga class. You’re in it with a lot of people around you but at the end of the day you’re in it with yourself, and only you can figure yourself out. It’s a gift and a privilege to be in this deep long lasting relationship with ourselves.
So no matter how hard we look at our neighbors, or wonder what they really think of us, we will eventually have to turn the gaze inwards to really see what’s up.
And once we start the process of going deep within ourselves, (read: not everyone else) we will be so occupied that we won’t even notice the voices coming from outside.