What other people think about you matters. You read that right.
Other people’s thoughts about you do matter –just not in the way you’re probably thinking.
You might, like me, occasionally use someone else’s opinion as a judgment of yourself. You might, like me, let your worry about what others think establish your sense of self worth.
But doing that sucks, doesn’t it? So, let’s make a pact. Together, let’s STOP using other people’s opinions –imaginary or real– to judge ourselves.
Let’s stop caring that a perfectly coiffed lady on the subway sneers at our disheveled hair. We’ve all had disheveled hair days, and besides, disheveled is high fashion now. Let’s stop thinking glossy, photoshopped pictures of models represent us –or any real people. The actual models are far more likely to love us for who we are than the imaginary people in those silly photos.Let’s stop needing to be like everyone else –just because everyone else is doing it. Let’s also stop needing to be ultra unique –just because everyone else is doing it. Let’s be who we are and be OK with that.
What if being who you are means giving weight to the voices and ideas of others? That would be awesome. Because that’s how other people make a difference. And guess what? They can do it without making you crazed and judgy inside your head.
Sutra 4.15 establishes that the world inside your head is unique. (Hey! you do get to be different from everyone else! No extra effort required.)
Sutra 4.15: The world of matter is entirely neutral and homogeneous. Differences (like good and evil, beauty and ugliness) are perceived because such differences are created by viewpoints oriented to different directions or goals. Translation by Swami Venkatesananda
At the same time, sutra 4.15 sneaks in a little point about different perspectives. They’re all around you!
Yes, when you concoct imaginary judgments in other people’s minds, that’s on you. Those fictitious opinions don’t need to shape you. But, when you open your ears and listen –actually hear what someone else has to say– those opinions might not matter so much. Better still, they might end up being valuable tools to help you change your mind (if it needs changing).
They might end up being the push you need to transform your day, your week, your life. Like when your friend tells you that you look worn out. You probably are, even if you didn’t realize it. Hear her and go take a break, get some rest. Like when your mother gives you any advice. You probably don’t want to hear it, but more likely than not, she has a useful insight you need. So listen, and later, in the calm of your own space, take in what you can of her well-meant words.
What other people share with you out of curiosity, respect, or love can matter as much as you let it. And sometimes, letting it matter a lot makes all the difference.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.