People will always see what they want to see

It took me very long to realize that the tough decisions we make in our lives are only “tough” until we take the first step. Our mind has this unimaginable strength to adapt to changes as and when we need it. 

Pleasing others have been such an important part of our life that we do not realize how much it influences our thoughts and our actions.

Now, let me tell you a story that I’m sure you must have heard before. The famous story of the man, his wife and their donkey. 

The main characters you need to know about in this story are obviously the man, his wife and their donkey. 

Well, no. 

The main characters are the man, his wife and the society they live in. Let’s just keep the donkey out of our human problems.

Scene 1

The man and his wife were walking alongside the donkey. A few onlookers passed by and one said to another, “Ha-ha-ha, look at the couple, they don’t even know how to ride a donkey.”

The man overhears this conversation and insists his wife join him as they ride the donkey to their destination.

Scene 2

They kept going for a while until they come across a few other men. The men looked at the couple sitting on the donkey and said, “What a wicked couple! They have no mercy for the animal.” 

After hearing this, the man decides to let his wife ride the donkey while he walked the rest of the way.

Scene 3 

A few other men walk past this old couple and comment, “Stupid man. He should ride because he is the boss of the woman.” 

After hearing this, the man decides that he should be the one riding the donkey while his wife walked along the way.

Scene 4

After a while, some passersby notice this odd scene and says, “What a selfish man! He should be kind to his woman.”

Scene 5

Finally, they decide to carry the donkey to their destination. But that only made the next couple of men say, “Ha-ha-ha What a stupid couple? Look at them, they are carrying the donkey”

So, what do you think they should’ve done?

That’s right. They were better off at the start. Their only mistake was thinking that they could change the opinion of other’s based on how they act in public.

Here’s why you shouldn’t bother yourself with other people’s opinion –

1. You will be considered wrong either way –

As the story very well conveys, no matter what you do, you will end up disappointing someone. No matter how hard you try, you cannot change what others think about you even if it means doing what they think is right. 

2. Fear overpowers you –

You end up living in fear of what others might think. You start thinking 6 steps ahead pretending your life is a game of chess and you believe that thinking ahead will solve all your problems. You end up losing the joy and blessing of spontaneity in life.

3. You end up not doing what you love –

The fear of judgement manifests in you so deep that you end up doing what others think is right and at the same time completely ignore what you really want to do. 

4. You have something to hide –

The discomfort of not doing what you love shows up so well in your expressions that people tend to think you have something to hide. Oblivious to the change, you become someone else’s puppet.

5. You fear everybody is thinking about you –

You end up having this bizarre thought that everyone around you is thinking about you. Watching your every move. Ready to criticize you the moment you screw up. This fear and anxiety sideline you from your own life.

Guess what?

They never told us that the story about this couple’s enlightening journey was actually incomplete.

We were never told what happened in the end.

So here it is — 

Scene 6 

The man, his wife and their donkey were on the way back after a few days. They crossed the same people they walked past a few days ago. To their surprise, those people didn’t even recognize the couple.

So, all the while, the old man’s distress about what those people thought about him was a bootless errand.

That’s when the man realized, he wasted all his time thinking about pleasing other people. It wasn’t their opinion that made him change his actions, but his own insecurities. He was a fool, not because he altered his actions depending upon other people’s opinions but because he let his insecurities overpower his own instincts.

So, the voice that you shouldn’t be listening to is the voice of your own insecurities. Because whatever you feed will grow.

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” 

Marcus Aurelius

Moral of the Story

  1. People do not find enough time to think about themselves, let alone think about you.
  2. A burning fire eventually burns out. Whatever happened no matter how big eventually dies down.
  3. When you have the power to control your mind, your surroundings seem to be in better control of you.
  4. You cannot please everyone. 
  5. You won’t be a bad person if you disappoint the person who loves you or has invested in you. All they can expect from you is to do your best and so you should.
  6. We are all going to die soon so instead of worrying about what’s going to happen and make things happen.

So, stop saying that your life is miserable because people around you don’t understand you. You cannot change them but you can definitely change YOU.

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles


Originally Published at Bulletproof Writers