Today we ask that you learn not to care about what other people think of you.
Caring about what other people think of you is a swift road to a miserable life.
This does not mean, be rude to others, or insensitive.
It just means, do not live your life seeking the approval of others. That is a game you’ll never win.
Healthy relationships are based on love, not approval. Love is unconditional. With love, it is entirely acceptable if the other person does something you don’t approve of, or don’t like. You may dislike the action, but you don’t love the person any less.
Consider the healthy parent’s relationship with a baby. The baby is always doing things the parent doesn’t like, but that does not mean the parent loves the baby any less.
Sadly, often as babies mature into children, the relationship with the parent becomes more approval-based and conditional. The unhealthy parent has a specific notion of who the child ought to be. When the child fulfills this role, the parent approves. When the child veers from this role, the parent disapproves.
The sets up an unhealthy pattern that may continue throughout a person’s life, if it is not dealt with. The child will continue to play roles in order to win approval — with parents, teachers, bosses, spouses, and ultimately the person’s own children.
This is a tragic state of affairs. When this happens, the person may live out a whole lifetime without every truly being herself. She may go from the approval-seeking child, to the approval-seeking student, to the approval-seeking employee, to the approval-seeking wife, to the approval-seeking mother. In turn, she’ll raise her own children to be approval-seeking.
Such a person is always playing a societally-approved role: the dutiful daughter, the dutiful student, the dutiful employee, the dutiful wife, the dutiful mother. She may live and die with her true self suppressed — never knowing who she is under all these roles.
The only way to break out of this cycle is to let go of the need for approval. This is, in part, what it means to truly become an adult. It is okay if other people disapprove of you, or think that you’re living your life in the wrong way. They are entitled to their opinion — but it is really none of their business.
Very often when someone lives a life of freedom and being true to themselves, this arouses fierce disapproval in others. There will be a whole choir of clucking hens shouting: “No, you’re doing it wrong!”
But where would we all be if not for the brave ones who are capable of staying true to themselves, despite the clucking hens.
Please do not spend your whole lifetime enslaved to other people’s opinions. You will be terribly unhappy if you do. And if you have children, you will consciously or unconsciously teach them to be the same way, schooling them for lives of misery and role-playing.
Disapproval cannot hurt you. Truly, it can’t. Even in the face of fierce oppression, there is nothing more valuable to you than your soul. Your true, unique self is beyond price. Be true to it. That is what it means to be in integrity.
People who lead lives of integrity are a blessing to everyone they touch.