“If you wish to hold yourself to a higher standard, prepare for people to mock you and call you arrogant. If you hold to your principles and maintain your humility, these same people will admire the example you have set. If you allow them to knock you off your path, they will mock you double.” – Epictetus
It doesn’t matter what we choose to to do to make ourselves better. We might change out diets, we might start working out, we might change our careers, or we might further our education. Someone is going to make a negative judgment about our actions. They will have their own reasons for doing so. Maybe they don’t think we will be able to stay on the path. Perhaps they feel like it is a bad idea or an arrogant lifestyle choice. They might be a little bit jealous of our ability to attempt to better ourselves.
It does not matter.
If we have weighed our choices. If we have looked ahead and come to the conclusion that the path we are on is the best way to get from where we are now to where we want to be as people, it does not matter what others think. We have to stay resolute in our conviction that we are on the way to becoming our best selves. And we have to do it with humility.
This means we need to listen to the concerns and judgments we get from others and we need to determine if they consist of information we should incorporate into our lives or if their criticism can be discarded out of hand. The key to discerning this is whether or not the criticism they are offering helps us to better navigate the distance between who we are now and our best selves.
But make no mistake, we have to stay on this path. We not only hurt ourselves but also everyone watching us when we fail. Because if they can relish in the knowledge that we couldn’t stay on our path what reason will they every have to step on their own path?
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