Do not let your peace depend on the hearts of others; whatever they say about you, good or bad, you are not because of it another, for as you are, you are.
– Thomas a Kempis
Even if you have ninety-nine people cheering you, there will always be a hundredth to boo. That is the nature of life, and to deal with it, we need simply to learn not to be always on the lookout for appreciation and applause. If people say, “Oh, there is nobody like you,” don’t get elated. Don’t pick up your telephone and call your friends to tell them what is being broadcast about you. That’s what most of us do, you know; that’s why telephones are so busy. It is also why so many people get dejected when fortune seems to frown.
My spiritual teacher – a simple, straightforward woman who didn’t mince words – used to tell me, “You can’t shut other people’s mouths.” It took me years to understand that. This unlettered lady knew that we don’t have any control over other people’s minds. You can control only your own mind. When you understand this, you know you needn’t be concerned about what people say about you: it doesn’t affect you, because your mind cannot be upset. You may feel hurt, but you will have an inner security that cannot be shaken.
- While I completely agree with this piece, I am so happy to be surrounded by people who matter: who are respectful, encouraging, friendly, and secure in their own skins. They took their time coming as I faced manipulative, exploitative kinds – who bicker and bad-mouth continuously, because you are of no use to them, because you have taken back your resources to which they felt entitled, because they mistook your humility for servility.
- Friends did come in their own sweet time. And while it is good habit to depend on neither the (few) negative people nor the (numerous) positive people you encounter, I cannot be detached. Positivity affects me too. It keeps me buoyant. I feel nourished, loved, wanted. Why shouldn’t I say this? What vulnerability do I fear exposing? I love the friends who have brought me to this place. Today I say a prayer for you from the deepest parts of my heart. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being part of me. You rescued me from coldness.