Don’t attach importance to what others think of you. It never really matters.
A couple of days ago I got an email from someone who lives in Plano, Texas. This gentleman was prompted by YouTube to watch the film Rise In Love that was made, on the companionship that Vaani and I have, by a younger film-maker Shalu who, after reading my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal (Westland) was inspired to explore how love thrives in the face of adversity. The gentleman wrote to ask how is it that I dared, with Vaani, to share our story of ‘failures’ so openly in a conservative socio-cultural environment like India, particularly in South-India? He wondered if we weren’t scared of the social stigma as a fall out of our being so open and sharing – of being bankrupt and of being seen as people who are losers in Life.
I totally appreciate the question and understand where it comes from. But, thanks to this experience, of our bankruptcy and failures (per the worldly definition), both Vaani and I have come to realize that what other people think of you has no bearing on your Life. It can’t and doesn’t make your Life tick. There is only one judge in the world and that is the one that looks back at you from the mirror. If you can be true to that one person that you see in the mirror daily, you seriously do not need to validate yourself anywhere else. I see Life only from what is. Yes, we made mistakes with the way we ran our business and our Life. Yes, we went bankrupt. Yes, we struggle without money. And work. These are indisputable facts. But just because all this is real, I am not going to let social labels of ‘failure’ or ‘loser’ stick to us. I treat everything now, praise or criticism, or worldly definitions of success and failure, whatever, as something that comes scribbled on a Post-It note, which the world tries to stick on me. And I simply peel it off me and chuck it away. That’s how I shed the grief, guilt and trauma, associated with my mother calling me a cheat (over our inability to repay loans taken from the family), and learned to move on. Vaani and I are very clear about our intention – we remain accountable and responsible for what we owe our 179 creditors. I don’t really care what people think our intention as long as we hold it sacrosanct between us. We have also discovered that when you wear your Life on your sleeve, a majority of the people who come into your Life are actually compassionate. It is only a minority that judges you and pins labels on you. Intelligence lies in choosing to ignore that judgmental minority, to un-label yourself, peel off and chuck away labels that have been stuck on you, and carry on living.
So, my learning is that it doesn’t matter what others think of you. Let them have their perceptions and let them form their opinions. You focus on living your Life the way you want to, being true to yourself and to the God within you.