Winner: Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2013 #2
Next year I’m going to give myself a Top Ten instead of a Top Three. It was really hard choosing. Thank goodness that the Ten Most Popular included two that I wouldn’t have wanted to see left out of being recognized. I get calls and emails about these and some of them are extremely touching, while others are simply grateful for some new skill. Either way it’s all music to my ears and beauty to my eyes.
My Second Place Blog-of-the-Year is all about how to not be liked. People mistake popularity for success but real success is when other people can’t disrupt your life much. That’s how you get equanimity: self-control. By actively managing our consciousness it is possible to face a great deal of negativity all while maintaining a compassionate, generous, open perspective. I like it for its clarity about the mechanics of how we torture ourselves by replaying other people’s thinking. Enjoy.
How Not To Be Liked
Because society has used group-thinking to build walls around ideas like beauty or intelligence or value, there are many ways for you to imagine you are failing or wrong. But these are just ideas. This is what it is to liberate yourself—you have to understand that other people’s opinions are just narratives they think that lead to chemical responses in their brain. Quite literally none of that happens in any world you live in. It’s an internal experience they have.
Even if they say something out loud, you still have to confirm it within your own thoughts before you’ll get any change to your chemistry. That’s why Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” If you’re not choosing to think that they either are or may be right, then their words mean nothing. They have no echo in your consciousness. And since there is no such way for their judgment to be “right” anyway, you’re free the moment you switch your insecure thought stream away from that internal conversation and on to something more productive.
You see, your job was never to be liked. Magnets aren’t trying to get metal to like them. Magnets just are and metal just is and the result is that they naturally go together. Magnets don’t attract glass. That doesn’t make either the glass or the magnet “wrong.” They just don’t naturally go together. They can easily and comfortably co-exist in the world but they simply aren’t parts of the universe that fit directly together. We should accept that these differences exist at home at work and within society at large. You don’t date someone because they’re hot because that’s like a tight, cultural lasso binding you together. It’s better that you naturally and constructively fit together, like a magnet and metal, because then your attraction will last and it will have no tension.
If you’re busy trying to be liked you’ll be performing for everyone you meet. You’ll stress yourself trying to sound knowledgeable about sports when you could care less. You’ll put on a dating profile that you love camping when you hate it. You’ll dress in uncomfortable clothing just to create envy in other people. That’s not freedom. That’s the exact opposite. That’s oppression. Why are you running around following all of these lines on the ground? Who painted the lines?
Being Authentically You allows the metals and magnets in your life to find each other. If you’re wearing a mask trying to be everything to everyone then you’ll be blocking your naturally attractive qualities. Your camouflage will hide you from your natural friends and allies. Letting those thoughts go and opening yourself up represents a huge plus, because you can take all of that energy you spend trying to look cool or smart or attractive and you can put it into enjoying life!
Apparently Isaac Newton hated people, didn’t bathe, and he worked in the nude. But he loved to discover. That was where his joy was—not in pleasing others. Their ideas about him didn’t bother him because he wasn’t thinking about those ideas—he was thinking about his life’s work. Other people’s ideas about you are meaningless. Do not let them dampen your spirit. Be thoroughly and unapologetically you. There are friends you haven’t met yet who need your light to shine brightly so they can find you.
So remember: what other people think of you is largely irrelevant. Some religious or political fundamentalists may hate the Dalai Lama, but that doesn’t mean the Dalai Lama has to hate them. There is nothing to be gained by carrying that in his heart. They can have that view and he can continue to exist. He can even thrive. After all, Tibet is now much bigger than its borders. It’s a worldwide nation of sorts. Not bad for a guy who was kicked out of his own home and who has lived his entire life under attack. Maybe the peace you seek isn’t so far away after all, huh?
Here’s a link to a fascinating radio/podcast documentary that shows you how subtly you’ve been taught to see yourself critically: Under the Influence: Shame
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.