I have often times thought about how others might be perceiving my actions. What do they think of me? Do I look foolish or unworthy or are my thoughts ridiculous? Even when I know that to take things personally is an unproductive action of the ego, I still do. Yet, truly, intellectually, I know that what you think of me is none of my business. My father spoke of this often. He lived free, allowing his own judgments of his actions to be sufficient. For me, it is a daily act of affirmation and recognition that not only do I try not to take things personally, but that I strive not to judge anything or anyone that crosses my path today.
People judge us by the surface of our lives; we compare other people’s outsides to our insides and we inevitably lose. They look at how we raise our children, and judge us too strict or too lenient. If our children succeed in academics or athletics or rise to any number of great heights, we are such good parents. If they wind up slacking off, drinking beer, smoking pot, or any number of shenanigans that teenagers get into, we are responsible and should hang our heads and be ashamed.
What silliness and small mindedness is involved in this black and white way of thinking. It is easier to take part in when we are younger and more naive. Judging is a fearful act of separating and protecting oneself. If you are not feeling particularly secure in your own skin, pronouncing that you “know the answers” and that others fall short of the mark, feels subconsciously at least, safe.
Later, of course, when we mature and life hands us our own inevitable “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, we learn that life is too complex to judge, that why people do what they do is made up of a unique mixture of nature and nurture. We have not walked even close to a mile in their particular skin. Tragedy throws itself on the most unlikely and undeserving victims. Addictions and disease befall the greatest of characters.
With luck, with God’s grace, with help of friends, family, and the kindness of strangers, we are sometimes blessed with peace which passeth all understanding, with endurance that lasts beyond all signs of exhaustion, and most of all, hope that all will eventually be well. Somehow, someway. Regardless and in spite of, what anyone else has to say about it.
So, just for today, let other’s opinions go. Let the harsh judgments of the crowd silence in the quiet of your heart. You are doing the best you can with what you’ve got…and it’s enough.