There are lots of different elements informing the beliefs, opinions, judgment and criticisms people render about others. Some biggies include religion, cultural norms, what our parents drilled into us and our own life experiences. When we observe something or hear something, the experience goes through all of these filters and out the other end comes an opinion of some sort.
Ultimately, what other people say about us or our lives has absolutely nothing to do with us. Fully realizing this is one of the most empowering things we can realize and a necessary ingredient in living our lives as we truly want. But, sometimes it is hard to realize this. We take things personally because people are directly criticizing or judging our choices, our life, our way of being; they are saying these things to us or in many cases, to someone else behind our back. Being human, we are prone to insecurities about certain elements of ourselves and doubts about our choices and beliefs, even ones that we have given much thought to before adopting. It can sting sometimes. While it should not matter, sometimes it does. We know we should not rely on others to validate our choices, but hey, it feels nice, right? I think we all enjoy that boost once in awhile.
We can get upset and it can make us doubt ourselves and question whether we are the ones that are in the wrong. But, if you can remember this unbelievably important nugget of wisdom, you will be able to weather these moments much more easily, they will not get to you as much. You will realize other people’s comments have absolutely nothing to do with you and are all about the other person and what they say will not carry the weight it often does for many people when faced with this opposition.
So, what other people say and do to us is all about THEM, but, how we react is all about US. Often times, we blame other people for making us feel a certain way. They said or did something mean, annoying, frustrating or what not and we get upset. It is all their fault. Not really. Granted, had they not done or said this particular thing, you would not feel this way. But, their actions or words did not cause anything, they simply triggered something that is already within you. Your reaction has nothing to do with them, it is all about you, no matter what transpired. If you and the Dalai Lama both encountered the biggest d-bag on earth, I imagine you would likely have two very different reactions, at least internally. You would want to punch him in the face while His Holiness would probably feel nothing but compassion and love.
Our habitual reactions and tendency to operate on autopilot often prevent us from examining how we react to other people. We have conditioned responses that we feel are justified or normal for the situation and we do not question them. The reactions are certainly understandable, but they are not necessary or required, there is always a choice. Taking the time to examine why we react the way we do when faced with situations that tend to evoke negative emotions can uncover a gold mine of information about ourselves and help us make tremendous strides in gaining more peace in our lives.
Far too often, we give other people way too much power in dictating how we feel not only on a moment-to-moment basis, but overall about ourselves and our lives in general. Taking responsibility for our feelings and realizing that other people’s criticisms and judgments are just reflections of their own internal issues puts the ball back in our court. It helps us live an authentic life true to ourselves and prevents so much unnecessary stress we heap on ourselves in our dealings with others.