If I worry about what you think of me, I’m in big trouble. If I don’t care at all what you think of me, I’m a brute. Which is it?
Terry Cole-Whittaker wrote “What You Think Of Me Is None Of My Business” in the 80s. It was very helpful to me. I suggest you read it. (www.terrycolewhittaker.com)
We are all socialized to fit into “polite society”. To behave. To have proper manners. To be good, law-abiding citizens. As women, particularly in the 50s when I was a child, we were told many things that we tried to change later, in the 70s, as feminists. Some really did change (we have a woman running for nomination in the Democratic party for the Presidency — that’s a big deal) but some things did not. Women are still paid less then men and men still, mostly, rule the government(s), the corporations and the religions of the world. Depending on the kind and the amount of programming you got in your family, your community or in other groups, you may be trapped tightly in what you were taught or you might have wiggled out from underneath it at least a small amount. Some few of us have jettisoned the programming almost completely and have consciously chosen what we want to believe and how we wish to conduct our lives as adults. And even fewer individuals live completely free of external programs operating out of an inner light that understands moral, compassionate, honest behavior that generates out of deep personal wisdom, not external rules and regulations.
If I am very successful, some people will look at me and say that I am too proud. If I am very confident, some people will look at me and say I am arrogant. If I am generous, others may say I am trying to make myself look good or that I am trying to make up for being selfish. If I am conservative with my money and possessions, others may say I am cheap and miserly. If I am shy and quiet, others may say I am closed and suspicious. If I am generous, others may say I am a spendthrift, wasting my money. If I am conscious of my appearance, other may say I am vain and shallow. If I don’t care how I look, others may say I am slovenly and lack self-esteem.
It is so that when you put yourself out there in the “real world” — you have to have courage. In so doing, if you succeed, you will absolutely encounter jealousy, envy, and resentment and perhaps even rage. If you try to give back to others when you succeed by helping them to be successful, too, you might receive instead a stab in the back when they are, themselves, more visible. When you introduce a new idea or concept to the world, you may find that others are lurking in the shadows just waiting to pounce on your ideas to steal them and claim that the ideas are theirs instead of yours.
You can do nothing about any of this. You cannot stop others from thinking or doing whatever they want and if you believe that you will not encounter such negativity caused by the actions and thoughts of others, you are wrong. You will be the object of many diverse judgements and negative actions and you need to know, as you begin your journey, that it will come simply because you choose to walk a public path.
Nevertheless, how you deal with what comes your way is up to you. What’s best is to walk forward, being yourself, and paying no attention whatsoever to the racket of the “real world”. What other people think about you is, truly, none of your business. If you know you have behaved with scrupulous integrity, with total honesty and with openness; if you know you have done only good and no harm; if you are certain in your heart that you have tried to help others and to give back; and if you hold no malice in your heart towards anyone else no matter how they treat you; then you do not need to trouble yourself with what others say or do regarding you or your life.
Have the courage to carry on being the best human being you can be. Live by the light within and don’t let anything shake you from that light. In the end, it is enough and that’s all that matters.