How to Stop Caring What Others Think, Without Being Rude
A couple of days ago, I came across an interesting fable. In short, there is a story of a man and his son, who are on a trek with their donkey and headed to a market. In the tale, the father and son encounter various onlookers, who have a wide variety of opposing views on the way the man and son should traverse the terrain with their donkey. One passerby chides them, for the journey was long and neither the man nor his son rode the donkey. The passerby concluded they must be unintelligent. For fear of being seen as unintelligent, the man props his son up to ride the donkey, and they continue on their journey. Soon, they come across another bystander who frowns upon the little boy, who believed he should surely walk and allow his elderly father to ride the donkey instead. For fear of being seen as selfish and ungrateful, the son got off and allowed his elderly father to ride the donkey.
So the father gets on the donkey, and they continue their journey. Then, yet another onlooker scoffs that they would be cruel enough to even consider burdening the poor old donkey with not only such a long walk but to even dare to sit on the beast at all.
So, not wanting to seem cruel, selfish, unintelligent, or ungrateful, and completely out of ideas, the father and son did the last thing they knew to do. Desperate to please the passersby and onlookers, the father and son carried the donkey above their heads. Soon afterward, however, strong wind gusts pick up around them, and the donkey was caught up in the strong winds, out of their hands, and fell into an abyss to an untimely death.
The moral of the story? Many may debate the lesson, but a very powerful message that stuck out to me is this: you can’t please everyone. And you’re going to move in life regardless. So if you plan on moving forward in your journey of life, you might as well do it your way. Either way, you may be ridiculed or laughed at, but it won’t matter, because 1) you can’t please them all anyway, and 2) when you are happy, others’ opinions become irrelevant. If anything, it might even become comical or cute even.
The next time you hear about someone criticizing you or your choices, especially ones that you know are best for you, try thinking this to yourself: “Aww..isn’t it cute to see how much they care about me?”
I learned this lesson many times, in many different ways. Abraham Hicks put it best by saying: “you can’t serve two masters, so pick one…and let it be you.”
It was concluded in the Tales of Count Lucanor, that one who is guided by the criticisms of others will meet an unfavorable demise.
“In thy chosen life’s adventures, steadfastly pursue the cause, neither moved by critic’s censure, nor the multitude’s applause.”Don Juan Manuel – Tales of Count Lucanor
Validation, support, recognition, and appreciation are all wonderful things. It feels so good to be held in high regard by others. But there is a certain trap in that. If your sense of worth and value is tied to other people’s opinions of you, then you are going to be at the mercy and whim of someone’s fickle gaze. And humans are just too inconsistent for that. I don’t think I know anyone who is consistently in a wonderful, praising, appreciating mood 100% of the time. So why does their opinion matter so much? Besides, you aren’t that lazy to need someone else to boost you up, right? I didn’t think so.
The plus side to not needing someone else’s validation or approval in order to love and accept yourself, is that when someone openly criticizes you, it won’t stop you in your tracks. You will become, to quote Vishen Lakhiani, unfuckwithable. Which simply means, you got this, whether you have a crowd supporting you, or not.