I confided in her often. Grandparents often have the benefit of a generation's distance to (hopefully) know how to listen without reacting.
One piece of advice she gave has resonance now, as it did then. I was maybe in my late teens. I was speaking to her about a decision I had to make, and confided that I was worried that my decision would hurt someone's feelings.
She said "Well, she has no right to have her feelings hurt!"
I remember that penny-drop moment with absolute clarity. The realisation that what my Granny was saying, in her own way, was that all of us are responsible for our own feelings and reactions. We can each of us only choose our own path and make our own decisions. And as long as we do that with integrity and conscience and not from our own place or anger, resentment or hurt - that is if we act with mindfulness and compassion - then we are not responsible for other people's reactions or hurts.
This is a radical idea when you are 18 and very much caught up in what other people think. And for many of us, the desire to make others like, accept or approve of us lasts a long way into adulthood. I know from my own experience that my younger self would often veer between doing what the hell I liked regardless of the consequences and overt people pleasing. Safe to say that neither of those paths was the one to happiness or enlightenment.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” Thich Nhat Hanh
|photo by Lee Jordan on flickr.com|
What we are left with is knowing that we are living our own truth. If we do so from a place of mindfulness and compassion, then this is the best we can do.