Fear not the reproach of men,
nor be afraid of their revilings.
People are fickle. They will sing your praises one day, and they will turn on you like a pack of wolves the next day. Throughout history, people have shown this same erratic behavior, and sages have always taught us, just as Chuang Tzu taught, to be indifferent to the praise or blame of the masses. Let their praise and blame roll of your back just as rain beads up and rolls off of a newly waxed car.
The wise live among people,
but are indifferent to their praise or blame.
This advice sounds easy enough to do. After all, it doesn’t take much effort to ignore what other people say, right? Well, this is another piece of wisdom that is easier said than done. It is very enjoyable and ego-boosting to have people praising your work and patting you on the back. It is a pleasurable experience for people to tell you how great you are or how smart you are.
Likewise, it is a very uncomfortable feeling to have people attacking you and blaming you for this or that. It can be very stressful to have people harass you verbally. Being indifferent to the public’s opinions, either positive or negative, is something which has to be learning and perfected. It doesn’t come naturally.
I do what is mine to do;
the rest doesn’t disturb me.
Just remember that the same people who cheer for you today, would cheer just as loudly if you were about to be hanged. Don’t seek the approval of the public. Seek the approval of men of wisdom and honor. These are men whose opinions actually have substance. Above all, seek to live according to your own principles. Only you truly know if you are worthy of praise or blame.
A noble spirit will seek the reward of virtue
in the consciousness of it, rather than in popular opinion.
Pliny the Younger