"Your opinion of me is none of my business" is one of my favorite quotes. Yet, for some reason, the majority of us can't help but wince when someone thinks poorly of us or criticizes our behavior.
Rick Sanchez, the former host of CNN's Rick's List, couldn't handle Jon Stewart's wise-cracks about him. As we all know by now, he very publicly cracked during a radio interview last week and, among other controversial statements, called Jon a bigot. His sensitivity ultimately led to his exit from CNN. Hey, Rick! Jon's a comedian; it's his job to make fun of you!
Then there was last week's tragic story of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers' college student who jumped off George Washington Bridge after his peers broadcasted his gay lifestyle on the Internet. Here we see a sad, extreme case of exactly what happens when we allow ourselves to be affected by others' opinions of us.
We have to learn that we simply cannot stop the way people are going to respond to us. The only thing we can control is our reaction. Wayne Dyer says that every person who tries to piss you off is an angel in disguise, testing you and making you stronger. If you see each of your enemies that way, you'll gain more compassion and sympathy. Eventually, you might become hardened to their criticism and not nearly as bothered. You will sit back, learn the lesson and move on. This approach works great on subways when you're constantly shoved and berated for holding doors open or even just standing there. New York is rough!
Everyone -- especially strong leaders and those of us who take risks in our lives - has critics. Most of the time, someone else's criticism has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with some life experience or challenge they are enduring at the time.
In Dr. John C. Maxwell's "When You Get Kicked in the Rear, You Know You're Out in Front," he recommends learning how to deal with criticism by knowing yourself. When you know yourself well and feel good about who you are, who really cares what others think? Well, you might care what your mother thinks, no matter how old you get, but that's a whole other post!
Maxwell tries to live out a sentiment expressed by poet Pakenham Beatty, who advised, "By your own soul learn to live. And if men thwart you, take no heed. If men hate you, have no care. Sing your song, dream your dream, hope your hope and pray your prayer."
I'm not sure this directive works in today's world of sensationalized news, politics and celebrity, but that could be part of the problem. The alternative is ranting on and on about Jews running Hollywood. And you don't want to go there; it's been overdone already. Really.
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