When hanba was 22, she was introduced to a concept that was completely new for her at the time. It begun when a middle-aged acquaintance stated he never gets upset with anything anybody tells him. I remembered marveling this man for his wisdom and courage. ‘How on earth do you do it?’, I asked.
It is simple, the man replied. He was the father of my partner at the time. Whenever anybody tells me anything, be it negative or positive, I know they are in fact communicating with their impression of me. Only a few people know me, or know anything of my true nature. Everyone else, in all forms of interaction, project onto me their expectations, their history, attitudes, values. Based on these projections and observations, they make an assumption as to who I am. This, however, has nothing to do with who I am. Hence, I am protected from any accusation anybody may throw at me. I know it is never at me they throw accusations at, only at their set of assumptions about me. This, of course, would not apply to a core group of people with which he shares his true self.
I remember being disappointed with this method. The positive comments, then? Is it not wonderful to be in rapport with people, to share positive comments and let their positive energy nurture you? With this method, one misses out on all of the good parts, waving away positive feedback as “sets of assumptions” about oneself without any connection to one’s true self.
I cannot remember what the man said. Perhaps something about making sure you are not dependent on other people’s praise in order for you to keep a positive image of yourself? Only recently have I rediscovered these words and the great wisdom in them.
Writing this, I am reminded of a story that features the ancient superhero Buddha. I can’t remember all the details, but it featured a man waving an axe at Buddha. Somehow Buddha talked his way out of being slaughtered, considering the axe throw as a “gift he chose not to accept”.