What others think about you is none of your business. The most important thing is what you think of you. So much time, energy, and life are wasted worrying about others opinions, wanting to be liked by others, needing to please others.
Real mastery and bonafide leadership are all about ascending above social approval and getting to self-approval. No matter how many people tell you that you are great it will not give you the security you are seeking. Because people change on a dime, one minute you are like a god the next instant they hate the sight of you, ignore you, or abandon you. Social approval is fickle, unpredictable, and utterly fragile.
Look at historical people through social approval eyes and see if what I am saying is true. When the world is telling you that you are wonderful, be careful because then you are heading down the wrong track. When the world tells you that you are bad then you know you are doing good.
Respect yourself. Live by your values, be authentic, run your own race and build your dreams. Be true to yourself. At the end of the day, you may have messed up or may have been successful, either way, you walked your walk and learnt the lessons of the day. That is how a master and authentic leader walks.
Seiji was a young man that wanted everyone to like him. He would do anything for anyone as long as they gave him approval. In elementary school, he was always the class clown. He made people laugh, but not always with him, a lot of the time people were actually laughing at him. In high school, he tried to buy friends. If you spent time with him he would give you presents, buy you things and he constantly tried to impress and please others. When he let someone down he felt terrible. Of course, a lot of people avoided Seiji because they did not want to be indebted to him. A few not so high-level people took advantage of him and took him for all he had. Leaving him alone, abandoned and rejected.
One day I met Seiji as I was giving out flyers for my classes at the train station. He came up and asked if he could help me? I accepted his offer and we gave out the remaining flyers. After that, I took him for a coffee and a chat.
He asked me about Aikido and what I was doing in Japan teaching a Japanese martial art? Why was I not teaching English? That would be a much smarter way to earn the money he said. I answered his questions and tried to explain that I love Japanese culture and Aikido is one of the best things Japan has to offer to the world. It teaches self-control, respect for oneself and others and builds harmony and peace. Suddenly he started to cry and became very upset. Why do people not like me? He asked. I am so lonely. I don’t know what to do with my life? Maybe it would be better if I just died. We were sitting in a coffee shop and people were starting to look and it felt uncomfortable. So I suggested Seiji come back to the dojo with me and I would try to help him.
When we got to my office I took him and we meditated for some time. This helped calm him and to clear his thoughts. He was then more open to what I had to say. I asked him what he wanted most in life? He replied to be liked by others. It felt good when people liked him. But when he could not make them laugh anymore or when his money was gone, so were the friends. I explained that his problem was that he was seeking social approval too much and no one can give him the approval he seeks because he was looking for it in the wrong place. This got his attention. When we want approval it means we lack it. This feels very bad. So we have to choose which is better to want approval or to have approval. Of course, he said to have approval. The problem is people don’t know how to obtain the approval they seek. Consequently, they run after external things, money power, position, etc. We need to stop. To take time, and look inside for the approval.
I told him to do the following exercise. Close your eyes, put your head down and focus on your stomach or your chest. If you feel bad, in your imagination open up a door in your stomach or chest and let the energy out. It feels good to let the energy out because it is not good for your body, and it wants to leave. When the energy is gone, close the door. The Universe does not like a vacuum.
So please imagine a white pearl in a dark room on a black table. This pear is giving out light, warmth and love. This pearl is located in your centre. In your imagination let the light, warmth and love expand out to your stomach, down your legs, into your feet and into each of your toes. It feels so good there is nothing to compare it to. The light, warmth and love expands to your chest, shoulders and slowly down both arms into your hands and into each finger. You are feeling ecstatic. every atom, molecule and particle is feeling alive, healthy and wholesome and it feels incredible. It is so hard to put it into words, it feels that good. The feeling expands into your head and you are in Nirvana, Heaven or some other really beautiful place everyone wants to go to. Give yourself more, more and more approval. Have an approval bath. Once you are overflowing then nothing or no one can bother you. You don’t want or need anything. You can then give your approval to others and watch as they suddenly change. This is what everyone wants, needs and is hoping to find.
When we finished Seiji was converted and he begged me to let him join my dojo. I could not beat him away with a stick. He was so resolute in his determination to walk the path. He grew into a very mature man. He became a therapist and counsellor. His practice is growing more successful every year. Life is good. You just take it one day at a time.
We are all searching for something. Peace of mind, security, etc. I hope something of Seiji’s story can touch you and help you get through life a little easier. Until next time I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei