Countless articles have been written on why we shouldn’t take other people’s negative opinions of ourselves personally. Why we should take judgement from other’s with a grain of salt. Not to accept other people’s negative ideas of us, as our own. This is all true – you shouldn’t feel badly about yourself just because someone else doesn’t like something about you. In a world filled with 7.5+ billion people, don’t you think it’s normal that we wouldn’t all get a long?! Of course. We tell ourselves all the time that other people’s ideas of us are a reflection of their own feelings toward themselves and their lives, not actual facts about us. This is all true.
But what about praise, then?!
If we shouldn’t be taking other people’s negative opinions of us to heart, then why is praise from other’s so widely accepted as truth? It feels good when someone gives us praise. We all want to be liked, appreciated, wanted, loved. But the only true way to live a balanced life where we don’t take things personally; where we don’t get ourselves caught up in other people’s reflections of their own lives… is to accept the fact that neither high praise nor negative judgement from other’s, is our own truth.
It may sound counterintuitive. In a world where we all want to feel good about ourselves, where we strive to feel confident, why would it be a bad thing to accept praise but not judgement? If one is positive rather than negative, then why should we abolish it? It makes us feel good! Why throw it away?
I believe that if we want to feel balanced with a sense of peace in life, then we need to be fair with ourselves. Being fair doesn’t mean that we *pshaw* criticism but collect accolades in the form of flattery, gradually building our egos. Balloons ready to burst at the next sharp poke of criticism. A balanced mind is built of neutrality, not a stack of Jenga blocks about to topple. A balanced mind knows that both high-highs and low-lows are unsustainable. If extreme negatives are not acceptable to us, then extreme positives can’t be either.
In recent months I’ve endured some very low lows followed by some very high highs (and then some more lows and highs after that, to be honest!). But what I learned through these experiences is that I can’t trust elation any more than I can trust misery or sorrow. These feelings are all inevitable, and they are all part of what makes life so rich and gratifying, but they are far reaching ends of a spectrum. Harmony, balance, and the feeling of peace and contentment we all want; is waiting for us in the middle. The middle, where we’re not caught up in intoxication or despair.
Neutrality may sound boring, but I don’t see a balanced mental state and increased happiness as anything to scoff at.
Haemin Sunim’s words apply here, in regards to praise or judgement:
“Regard them as a passing cloud, instead of identifying with them as a defining part of your self”
I see this mentality as a definite form of minimalism. To practice ridding your life of extremes in favour of balance, is the definition of removing excess to make room for what’s important.
Bare Necessity Writer