Don’t take what people have to say about you seriously. Better still, don’t take yourself seriously either!
The other day someone I know called me a scumbag (per an online dictionary that I referred to, it is a noun and means ‘a contemptible or objectionable person’; ‘someone with poor judgment and no class’) in a closed-group message thread. I smiled at the charge. And decided not to respond.
Just three years ago, I had physically prevented this person from drinking and driving. He had then objected to me intruding on his privacy, personal preference (to drink and drive) and judgment (to know what is right for him). I had tried explaining to him that I only had his best interest in mind. But, in the same closed-group message thread, he had cried foul. Back then I was pained that I could not get him to see where I was coming from. I apologized for my behavior. But the matter never got resolved and, in fact, as he continues to see it, the “damage to our relationship is irrevocable”.
But this time, when in another context, this person referred again to the three-year-old episode and called me a scumbag I was unperturbed. I was neither pained. Nor was I keen to avenge his sentiment. And here’s why I chose to be so: after all, this person had a right to his view – if he found what I had done to him contemptible and objectionable, if he had found my judgment poor and for all those reasons, if he perhaps found me lacking in class and not worthy of his association, he definitely was entitled to his opinion. In essence, the best and the only thing I could do was to respect it.
Truly, the lesser importance you give to what others have to say about you, the more peaceful you will be. Developing this attitude need not mean that you must be thick-skinned, brazen and egotistic. It only means that you have learnt to respect an opinion which is divergent from yours, that you have stopped sweating the small stuff and that you realize the value in letting go and moving on!
The reason why we want to avenge people’s uncharitable (per our view, not theirs!) sentiments with a how-dare-you is that we place undue importance on ourselves. A how-dare-you is nothing but your ego erupting and manifesting itself as anger and intolerance – often even as physical violence – towards whoever you are disagreeing with.
Actually, you need not place so much importance on yourself. I have learnt this the hard way – from my own experience. There will be times in Life when people will not be willing to understand you or appreciate what you have to say. In such times, the best response is to not respond, not clarify, certainly not avenge and to simply let go and move on. You can never control what people say or do. You cannot make them understand you if all they want is to interpret what you say. Respect their right to have an opinion even if you disagree with the opinion. Forgive them if you can. If you can’t do either, just remember this: whether you are called a scumbag or a cheat, whether you are called a liar or an opportunist, at the end of the day, you know who you really are. As long as you are true to yourself, and are happy being who you are, don’t sweat over what others have to say!