How to not get distracted by critics? || Acharya Prashant with Students (2013)

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Question: Acharya Ji, I don’t want to give two hoots to all these people who say things about me. How to do that?

Acharya Prashant Ji: How many of you get worried, honestly, when people say things about you, especially nasty things? So, then this question is not only Vishal’s question, but practically everybody’s question right?

Kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hain kehna!
(People will say a few things, that is their job)

The problem arises when we forget that what they are saying is an opinion coming from their mind, and hence, a totally external thing. Vishal (the questioner), you can never be hurt, if you do not link that opinion to your self-image.  You can never ever feel hurt if you do not link other’s opinion to your self-image.

Then you will say, “Alright! what you are giving me is a feedback, is an information. I will accept that information, just as one accepts any other information. It’s news. But I will not mechanically let it transfer my self-image. I will not let it change my image, in my own eyes.”

The trouble is, that we do not have our own eyes. To be more accurate, our eyes are closed. Had we not had any eyes, then the act could be pardonable. But the fact is, we have our eyes and we are keeping them closed.

We are not using our eyes to look at ourselves, we depend upon other’s opinions to look at ourselves. We are not using our intelligence, our own eyes to look at ourselves, we depend upon others to tell us how we are.

Someone comes and says, “Oh, you are wonderful.” How do you feel? Nice! In that moment, you totally forget that if this fellow can make you feel nice, he can also make you feel miserable. If you accept it, when he says,”How wonderful, how intelligent, how handsome you are!”You will also have to accept it when he says, “What an idiot, what a moron, what an ugly being you are!”

But we keep complimenting people, we keep saying good things about them and we think we are doing a favor to them. No!

Are you getting it?

You will tell me, “Sir, you are speaking very nicely,”I will say, “Alright that’s an opinion.” But, should I not know first how I am speaking? We talked about observation, right? Should I not have the capacity to directly look at myself without your help? And there are a thousand things I do throughout the day, would you be able to provide me feedback about everything?

If I am to really know how I am, and who I am, then I will have to look using my own eyes. But we do not do that. We depend on others. Not only do we depend on others, we actually crave, we actually demand and desire, that somebody should come and say something about us.

Am I right? That’s why your day is made, when somebody says, “Wow!” looking at you. And your day is ruined when somebody says, “Baal kahaan se kata liye (where did you get that haircut from?” And you are finished! Now, the damn hair anyway can’t grow too quickly. You’ve just had a haircut and he says, “From where did you cut your hair?” and this is sufficient to totally spoil your mood.

Am I right? Girls? A thousand rupees spent at the parlour, three hours, plus two hours of commuting and one little comment, and you are devastated! And not only an unfavorable comment, you go and display the thing to your friend and all he says is, “It’s ok,” and this is far less than what you had expected.

“Just ok? But I was promised I would look like a barbie doll!”

And then he has had it. Poor fellow.

Don’t you have your own eyes? Didn’t this parlour have a mirror? Can’t you look at yourself? Don’t you know what you are doing?

If ‘you’ don’t know what you are doing, how will others know what you are doing?

If ‘you’ don’t know, how will others know?

People come and ask, “Did I do the right thing?” Don’t you know? How can you afford not to know? “Sir, this is a particular situation in my life. What decision should I make?”

Who’s life? Who should know?

General awareness can be taken from others.

Self-awareness cannot be taken from others.

All that the other can tell you is, “Friend, you have good, beautiful, capable eyes, of the body and the mind. Use them. Do not depend on me. You do not need to depend on me.” Instead, we have people around us who feel very good when we depend on them. Have you come across such people? There are so many people who feel very, very good when you depend on them, or when they depend on you, or when you possess them or when they possess you.

“You know my boyfriend is so possessive about me.”

And you feel glad. Are you mad? Keep the fellow away, if he is possessive. He will kill you. But we have people around us, who are experts at providing opinions : agony aunts, specialists, family members.

“Come and tell me your problem, I will give you the solution.”

You are adults, how can somebody else give you a solution?

Somebody else can at the most help you in waking up.

And when you wake up, you see through your own eyes.

The other can have only a limited role.

Yes, there can be a role, but that role cannot substitute the functioning of your own eyes, of your own intelligence.

We live in a very second-handed, very-very dependent way.  That is the reason why people are able to dominate us, sometimes even emotionally.

Somebody comes to you, listen to him, but do not allow his words to become your self-image.

Watch Full Discourse: How to not get distracted by critics? Acharya Prashant, with students (2013) The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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