People have their opinions about everything, but why should it matter to us or anyone? Their opinions will matter to us only when we are not very clear about what we are doing. Instead of trying to battle with others’ opinions, it is best that we strive to create clarity as to what we are doing and why we are doing it. If this clarity arrives within us, other people’s opinions will not matter.
People will always have opinions about us, and that is their right. As the great saint Akka Mahadevi said, “You built a house in the mountains and the jungle, but now you are afraid of the animals — you should not have been there. You built a home in the marketplace, and you are afraid of the noises of the marketplace — that is not the right place for you to be.”
Now we are living in society, and we are afraid of what other people will say. This is part of social life. Somebody will always say something. Today it is magnified because of social media, but people have always had opinions. Today, attitudes have also changed and social media is used to target people, bordering on slander and defamation. If we cannot deal with this, then we will always be in trouble.
At one time, we had to battle just three or four people’s opinions. Today, we have to battle with five million because they are all out there expressing themselves. It’s perfectly fine. They can say whatever they want, but the most important thing is to bring an absolute sense of clarity into our lives as to what are we doing and why are we doing it. If this is clear to us, opinions will fly and opinions will change.
When people approach us with some kind of gossip, just remember the three questions framed by Socrates. It’s a triple-filter test of usefulness of information. The first filter is ‘Truth.’ Are we absolutely sure that what we are about to say is true? If we are not sure, then it is better not to repeat it and pass it forward. Now that we are not sure whether the gossip is true or not, the second question arises — the second filter is goodness. Is the gossip that one is about to spread something good? If it is not good, which is usually the case, then why would we want to spread something that is not good?
When we are at the second filter — the reasoning is — why would one want to spread gossip which says something bad and which we don’t even know if it is true? The final filter is ‘usefulness.’ Is the information being provided useful or not. If it is not useful then what is the point in spreading gossip which is neither good nor useful nor true?
If we apply these three filters in our life, we will to a large extent save ourselves from negative opinions and negative information.