February 24, 2013

Have you heard the story about the Donkey the Father and the Son?

The short version: a father and son have a donkey and all three go from town to town. In each town they are criticized for the way they are traveling, whether it's the father on the donkey and the son leading, or the donkey tied to a stick and both father and son carrying it between them. (The expanded version)

To paraphrase the moral: you can't please everyone. But don't let this become your problem.

People are going to have opinions. Some will love everything you do. Some will hate everything you do. If they are sane, they'll react in moderation. Praise is nice and non-constructive criticism sucks.

None of this should matter, but of course it does. It's taken me forever and then some to realize I just can't take it all to heart. That kind of habit is destructive; it only breeds lots of self-doubt and in an effort to make everyone else happy, you end up displeasing yourself the most.

Bottom line. It's just not possible to do the "right thing" by everyone, and when you run around trying to do just that, you end up looking like the poor donkey in the story: never had a say, was contorted in all sorts of ways.

donkey, son, father, wiki pic, stamp, tied up donkey
via Wikipedia
Without getting preachy now... do what you want to do, because it makes you happy and it works for you. If it bothers someone, it's his/her problem. If it really bothers someone, it might indicate that they don't really have your best interest at heart. Those who really matter and understand you will accept that it's what's good for you and leave you be.

Does that make me a selfish person? Not really. If I'm happy, I'm a better version of myself, and so a better person for/to others. I used to spend so much time and energy trying to please everyone and it didn't actually work out. Now that I focus on myself, life runs more smoothly. If it bothers some people, maybe they are the ones being selfish?

What do you think? Do you tend to feel like the father? The son? The donkey? Whose expectations are more important, your own or others?

ps - Thanks to @msbudgetbeauty for reminding me of this story and, in turn, inspiring this post.