What to do when people look down on you?


It’s no fun to feel you’re not enough, to feel you don’t belong, to feel as if you need to constantly compensate by acting nice or being whatever for whomever because who you are, is just not enough. Now, it’s a whole different thing when on top of having normal inferiority feelings as everyone else has, you have to deal as well with being discriminated against because of the color of your skin or your socioeconomic status. How would a Stoic act in any of these situations?

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”

The Stoic answer to this problem remains coldly equal: Seize worrying about what is not under your control and concentrate on what is, that’s where you power lies and the only true possibility of change for the better.

A story

I’m a mountain guide in Mexico City. I take people to the mountains and back. It’s a really fun job. I get to know people from all over the world and make new friends.

One time, I took a group of Norwegians to the mountains and had a driver to take us there and back. The driver was a regular Mexican guy, a fun fellow, had a good chat with him about his adventures as a chauffeur in Acapulco.

The interaction between this guy and the Norwegians was… weird. The Norwegians couldn’t care less about the driver. Similar to when you get on an Uber with a bad mood and careless about the Uber driver trying to talk to you about his entire life, you just put your earphones on and switch off. But the driver was deeply affected by them, he looked a bit intimidated. He was being extremely nice and of service, but it was just too much, to the point of being weird, like Dobby from Harry Potter. I mean, it’s fine for an elf to do that, but definitely not for a person. It feels false.

It wasn’t good for him either, because although his goal was obviously to be liked and appreciated for his work, he was being looked down on. It’s funny because, paradoxically, he put himself in that position. The problem was not the Norwegians judging him bad or good, but his predicament, his petty want of approval. Not doing things right for the sake of his principles and respect for himself, but ought of want of approval and appreciation. Similar to a dog asking for a bone. It’s impossible to interact with people on grounds of equality and as adults, if you don’t judge yourself worthy in the first place.

Think about this for a minute. Judging yourself worthy is not something others will do for you, or something you can get from other people,(as my driver expected to get out of being nice) but something that you need to do by and for yourself.

“Never depend on the admiration of others. There is no strength in it. Personal merit cannot be derived from an external source. It is not to be found in your personal associations, nor can it be found in the regard of other people. It is a fact of life that other people, even people who love you, will not necessarily agree with your ideas, understand you, or share your enthusiasms. Grow up! Who cares what other people think about you!”
Epictetus, The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness

Caring about people looking down on you, or even up, is utterly useless. If people look down or up on you, it is nothing to you, for you do not care about that which is outside your control. If people talk or admire, that’s their problem, your problem is to be a good friend, a good wife, husband or whatever role you are playing while being alive.

And pay attention now for this is essential. Be good and act good for the reward of acting good and following your principles and will alone. Do not act expecting the world to go your way. The triumph of principle is enough.

When you act with strings attached, with expectations, you are still not getting it, for you are acting looking for things externally. You will be forever disappointed if you continue living this way.

However, if you focus on the internal, on your will, and rest satisfied knowing that you’ve got all you need. You’ll become cheerful, free from perturbation and, paradoxically, things outside tend to go so much better.

“The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. Welcome evermore to gods and men is the self-helping man. For him all doors are flung wide. Him all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire. Our love goes out to him and embraces him because he did not need it.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance and Other Essays

Focus on being a great man or woman, learning, and growing, and all shall go well.

Thanks for reading,

Ricardo Guaderrama

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Ralph Waldo Emerson on Maturity


I cannot think of a better read that explains as best the concept of maturity as Ralph´s Waldo Emerson, Self -reliance. A Praise and a call to the independent spirit, to stand on your own, simple, effective, and timeless advice from Emerson. 
I think that by now I’ve read Self-reliance at least twenty times, and still, every time I read it, I find new powerful counsel, new slaps in the face that wake me up from my moral and spiritual slumber. I feel rejuvenating energy flowing through my body as if the words that enter my eyes were magical and I do believe they are. But please, try it yourself. Not more than a paragraph is needed to understand what I intend to say. Here: 

“I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I must be myself. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and if we follow the truth it will bring us out safe at last. — But so may you give these friends pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility. Besides, all persons have their moments of reason, when they look out into the region of absolute truth; then will they justify me and do the same thing.
The populace think that your rejection of popular standards is a rejection of all standard, and mere antinomianism; and the bold sensualist will use the name of philosophy to gild his crimes. But the law of consciousness abides.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Maturity is a sort of gradual realization. The realization of your own unique self and the powers and attitudes that only you possess and that only you can exert.

“That popular fable of the sot who was picked up dead drunk in the street, carried to the duke’s house, washed and dressed and laid in the duke’s bed, and, on his waking, treated with all obsequious ceremony like the duke, and assured that he had been insane, owes its popularity to the fact, that it symbolizes so well the state of man, who is in the world a sort of sot, but now and then wakes up, exercises his reason, and finds himself a true prince.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

First of all, maturity is fun. Who would you rather be? The sot? or the prince? We live our lives constantly preoccupied about our careers, about our income, friends, and everything else. But maturing makes you realize just how utterly dumb it is pursuing things that you don’t give a shit about anyway. It frees you up. It makes you understand yourself holistically and better. But growing old is not and assurance of maturity… 

You are not mature just because you are old

Maturity must not be confused with being old (although they naturally go hand in hand) for being old is not a synonym for being mature. I know young people more mature than most sixty-five years old folks. The old bloke that believes he cannot grab a guitar, start playing it, and then form a new country-jazz-mellow-electronica band because he’s too old is not being mature but childish. Just as the kid that thinks reading Harry Potter is childish is being, ironically, childish as well.
This is because they are not capable of making a decision for what they would like to do or to be in their one and only life, but instead, they let circumstance or judgment decide what’s best for them. Bought of them fall in immaturity and dullness.

Acting like a grown-up is not the same as actually being a grown-up. 

An immature person does not possess himself under his power and can, therefore, not stand for what he is and what he likes, he relies on what others think and like instead. He is not self-reliant, he lacks self-love that only he can provide, while at the same time, looks for it in other people. This eternal, external search will bring him nothing but deception and falsehood, from himself and from others, for it is essentially impossible to find what he is looking where it cannot be found.

Doing good. Your good, for your own good

What does it mean to be mature? What do people tell you when they tell you to grow up? What they mean is for you to take responsibility for yourself and your actions and to be able to hold yourself up, as well as physically as emotionally. 

It is one thing to change the diaper of a newborn and one completely different to change the diaper of a 25-year-old whining young adult, it just doesn’t feel right, in fact, it is blatantly wrong.

Being able to hold yourself up emotionally is a sign of emotional intelligence and reliability. An adult is a functioning agent of life, capable of dealing with the many requirements of it, however harsh. In fact, a man thrives and is happy when he is given the chance to prove himself worthy of the occasion. But a whining man-child is nothing but a burden to the men and women who are actually doing the job and living earnestly. 

The solution. Stand up for yourself, speak your words, do your work, and enjoy it as well. There really is no other way, nor you want any other. 

Thanks for reading. 

Ricardo Guaderrama 

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