I am an 18-year-old boy. My brother and some of my relatives wrongly accuse me of having affairs with a few girls and that I keep staring at them from my window. But that is totally wrong. I am getting depressed because of this. Please tell me what to do. I feel that ‘’don’t focus on what people say’’ is a philosophical idea and that, in reality, other people’s thoughts about you do matter.
Focused on Others
Dear Focused on Others
I am so happy you brought this up because I have been meaning to address the belief that other people’s thoughts about you matter. There are indeed many people out there who, upon hearing a negative comment about themselves, start questioning themselves. Usually, the issue in such cases is that the person in question has low self-esteem. I suggest you look around and really observe people. There are people around us who do what they want without worrying about what others think and say. Such people have high self-esteem, which automatically makes them less sensitive to what others are saying.
‘I keep being wrongly accused of having affairs’
If we consider big world inventions, say the aeroplane or a rocket, can you imagine if the inventors had stopped working on their inventions because other people told them it was impossible for machines to fly? They probably had to tune out other people, and stop paying attention to those who said ‘you will kill yourself if you try to fly’ or ‘machines are so heavy, how will they fly?’ You can probably imagine what all was being said, but did that deter these inventors? No it didn’t, because they forged ahead knowing they were right. So it is very possible to stop focusing on what people say and, in Auntie’s world, it is absolutely encouraged.
Similarly, if you haven’t done anything wrong and know that you are being wrongly accused, let your relatives know calmly that their accusations are incorrect, and then tune them out.
The way to do this in a sustainable way is to work on your self-esteem, which is likely very low. The best way to correct this is to work on liking who you are and honouring yourself. One way to do this is to look in the mirror every day and praise yourself, even if initially it feels like a lie. Tell yourself nice things about you. It is extremely important to love yourself and recognise that you are a unique person, especially if no one else is saying it to you. Try it twice a day, every day.
Ask yourself why are the accusations bothering you.
The other thing you should do, is ask yourself why — if your relatives’ accusations are not true — are the accusations bothering you? Do you generally get accused unfairly? Do you often become the scapegoat in controversies? Do you dread being attacked? Why is this, and does it feel like a pattern? Really dwell on this and soul-search to understand yourself and where you feel not good enough and why. Then work to improve those areas in yourself.
As for other people, you need to understand that what they say is a reflection of them. For instance, their comments about you staring at girls could mean that, if they had a room window through which they could stare at girls or have relationships with them, they would do that. That is how they think. it doesn’t mean that the same is true for you.
Also, people say negative things because they are feeling bad about themselves. It has nothing to do with you. Since they are your relatives, just accept them for who they are and move on. Do not get into convincing them and changing their point of view. They are who they are. Just accept it.
The only thing you need to do is focus on yourself. It won’t happen overnight, and it will require work on your part, but I hope it is a journey that you will undertake, and I also really hope this helps you.
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Published in Dawn, EOS, July 18th, 2021