Maintain positivity in front of others, while working out your negative issues in the background, because it is important to work for the greater good of the whole, which is a belief supported by Ayurveda as well, says RENU GULATI
If one were to wear one’s self on one’s sleeve, what would happen? We would be judged, subconsciously or consciously by others. Ayurveda advises us to maintain a happy exterior, no matter what. Does this mean that we should consciously create a false image of oneself in public. I now experientially understand the benefits of this — one is protected from negative judgement in the main. One also does not create suffering for others.
Now, in the world of digital media, one can maintain a happy self-image and get the adoration we all seek. We are flattered by ‘likes’ and positive comments and derive a momentary happiness from this. There are beauty filters and one can edit images so that you look like a movie star. That’s the one reason many people come off social media. These images of people having a great time have caused a feeling of insecurity and inferiority among others.
When Ayurveda says that you must maintain a happy and positive image, it is for society. Perhaps it is because people who are not our well-wishers are happy knowing that we are unhappy. This is not always a conscious reaction. It gives others a sense of oneupmanship over others, something to gossip about and ruin your social image.
So then how does one deal with feelings of sadness and negativity if that is how one feels? This is a type of affirmation. Here in India, when one is asked ‘how are you?’ the reply is usually, ‘first class, very good, all good with the blessings of god’, etc.
This may seem like one is suppressing ones feelings. But suppression of negativity is considered a good thing as it means that one is not dwelling on such things. If you use up your energy by talking about your negativity repeatedly, it grows. However, on the other hand, one must he self-analytical with oneself and try to understand the root cause of the negativity. If you can’t do this by yourself, try to seek the help of a close one or a counsellor, where one is not going to be judged. If the root cause of your negativity or sadness is not tackled, you could end up in huge emotional turmoil which could lead to a mind or body disease.
One must always cultivate a few trusted people who are not judgemental if one cannot self-navigate out of negativity and sadness. Don’t get fixated on your condition or think of yourself as a victim. Each of us are responsible for our own actions and if one believes in the karma theory, we can also go one step further and say we are fully responsible for all the things happening in our life. We ourselves bring about our circumstances including the responses of others.
So the initial question raised about how to be authentic implies that one must maintain positivity in front of others while you sort out your negative issues in the background. Be genuine, and speak the truth at all times without disturbing another’s peace or by creating a negative self-image. Also remember that a negative self-image in society is difficult to erase, whereas a positive one is inspirational. In the philosophy of John Stuart Mill, it is said that one must work for the greater good of the whole, and this is what Ayurveda believes in.
There is another common trend that we veer towards today, which is to air ones dirty laundry in public on chat shows and certain other reality shows.
Finally I would like to end with the famous Biblical statement:
‘To thine own self be true’. This means not creating a false image of yourself, especially to your own self as this can lead to disorders of the mind and body.
In Ayurveda, something similar is said: ‘Those who self-introspect regularly will not become a victim of disease.’
Renu Gulati is a lawyer from the UK and holds an MSc in Ayurveda from London since 2006. Based in Rishikesh, she consults, teaches and writes in the field of Ayurveda, internationally.