We are social creatures. Whenever we do anything, we watch how people react to our actions. Accordingly, we moderate and modify our actions. Such social feedback can be constructive if it is given by people who share our values and desire to help us. But it becomes destructive when it is given by people who don’t share our values and are viscerally opposed to us.
Suppose we are to give an important talk wherein we plan to take principled positions that will be unpopular among some hearers. To deliver that talk effectively, we need to focus on those hearers who are supportive or at least receptive, not on those who have judged and condemned us even without hearing us.
Whatever we do in life, some people will devalue us and some will value us. Unfortunately, we often overvalue those who devalue us; we crave and slave for getting one word of appreciation from them, and we despair because we never get it. In that obsession, we take for granted those who value us. If only we had reciprocated appropriately with them, the result would have been meaningful interactions, even deep connections, with them.
The Bhagavad-gita urges spiritual seekers to stay detached from people in general, knowing that such people, being materialistic, will not value their spirituality. Instead, serious seekers delight in associating with like-minded seekers and seers.
When we thus value those who value us and don’t overvalue those who devalue us, our social interactions become energizing, not exhausting.
Think it over:
- When is social feedback helpful and when unhelpful?
- Do you overvalue someone who devalues you? How can you change that?
- Do you value those who value you? How can you do this better?