“A young and good martial arts student was learning under the tutelage of a famous master.
One day the teacher was observing a practice session in the courtyard and realized that the presence of the other students was interfering in the young man's attempts to perfect his technique.
The teacher could sense the young man's desire to be an expert in front of others and his frustration at not succeeding. She walked over and patted him on the shoulder.
- What's the problem? - churches.
"I don't know," the young man said visibly tense. - No matter how hard I try, I am unable to perform the movements correctly.
"Come with me, I'll explain it to you," said the master.
The teacher and the student left the building and reached a stream. The master was silent on the shore for a while and then spoke.
- Look at the stream. There are stones in its path. Is he trying to impress them? Does he bump into them in frustration? It simply flows and continues its path. Be like water.
The young man took note of the teacher's advice and within a few days he hardly noticed the presence of other students around him. Nothing could affect his way of performing the movements, which were becoming more and more perfect ".
This beautiful story tells us about the need to find inner balance and peace, instead of trying to impress others and gain their approval. In fact, when we depend on the approval of others, a contradiction occurs: the more we seek it, the more impossible it becomes to obtain and the less we are considered.
The parable uses water as a resource since it has a special symbolic value in Buddhist philosophy because it perfectly incorporates its teachings. The water flows constantly, adapts to the shapes of the containers and overcomes all kinds of obstacles. It is her ability to adapt without losing her essence that makes her so special.
The risks of seeking approval from others
1. We drift further and further away from our essence. When we seek the approval of others, we assume that some of our characteristics will not be welcomed, so we try to hide them. We wear a social mask that takes us away from authenticity and “forces” us to play a character. Obviously, living in this "theater" is tiring because we have to continually repress many of the thoughts, attitudes and emotions that we naturally feel.
2. We live on an emotional roller coaster. When the opinion of others becomes the compass that guides our steps, we voluntarily climb an emotional roller coaster, because our state of mind begins to depend directly on external evaluations. We feel happy if we are flattered or deeply unhappy and frustrated if we are criticized or rejected. At that point we are no longer masters of our emotions and we surrender control to others. We become reactive people at the mercy of those around us.
3. We forget our dreams. It is something terrible, so terrible that we normally erase it from our minds, but when our life revolves around the approval of others, we abandon our dreams and plans to adapt and embrace the goals of others. In this way we end up losing intrinsic motivation, which is our driving force, and we lose passion. So we end up living the life that others want, not the one we want.
Is it possible to be yourself without "harming" others?
One of the obstacles people face on their way to authenticity and personal liberation is the fear of making the people they love suffer. However, growing up, pursuing our dreams, being independent and feeling good about ourselves shouldn't be a problem for others. On the contrary, if they truly love us, they should be happy to see us grow up and make our dreams come true.
The problem is that when we create an addictive relationship with someone by seeking their approval before making decisions, from the most insignificant to the most important, we are giving them enormous power over us. Many people feel comfortable in that role, enjoy having power over our life, and don't want to break the bond. But often these people become more and more demanding, they bind us closer and closer to them and their need to control us becomes disproportionate. In these cases, breaking the bond is a matter of psychological survival.
Of course, when we become independent, we start craving different things and make our own decisions, these people will be "disappointed" because they want to maintain the addictive bond. In a sense, delusion is a form of emotional manipulation. In fact, we must remember that often the bonds that keep us together are also those that imprison us.
In those cases one should not be afraid of "harming" the person because in reality we are not doing him anything wrong, but we are giving the relationship an opportunity to mature. We are elevating the relationship to a higher level where there is no addiction, but only two mature people who love to be together enjoying each other's individuality, without toxic addictions.
Don't be yourself, be the best version of yourself
One of the worst pieces of advice they can give us is to encourage us to be ourselves. We must keep in mind that many people have been successful by being themselves, but many others have failed miserably. Many people have been happy being themselves, but others have been deeply unhappy.
The wisest advice is: be the best version of yourself. This does not mean that we should give up our essence, but we must learn to give the best of ourselves. For example, being a person prone to anger will ultimately only bring us problems, as well as make us feel bad. This does not mean that we should hide disappointments or sorrows, but we must express them assertively. The goal is not to please others, but to be able to manage our emotions because accumulating hatred, resentment and resentment will eventually harm us.
The secret to being the best version of ourselves is very simple: when we have developed a good inner balance, we know exactly what we want from life and we are at peace with ourselves, this translates into each of our actions and allows us to relate. more securely and authentically.
In fact, being authentic doesn't mean exploding when we feel angry and frustrated or saying the first thing that comes to mind without thinking about the consequences, this is simply childish behavior.
According to Jean Paul Sartre: “Whoever is authentic takes responsibility for what he is and recognizes himself free to be what he is”.
The authentic person practices congruence, expresses what he feels and thinks assertively. However, authenticity is not limited to congruence, it does not simply consist of “being yourself”, it also implies a deep inner knowledge, the ability to take responsibility and a solid self-esteem that does not depend on the opinions of others.
The authentic person is sensitive to the emotions and opinions of others, it could not be otherwise, and decides not to subordinate their decisions to their judgments and criticisms. The most interesting thing is that when we are comfortable with ourselves, when we are authentic in a mature way and from a deep knowledge of ourselves, others notice it and we get their respect and admiration, even if this is not the final goal.