So you in your province are really of importance, though you scorn yourself. Men are asking what you do, how you dine, and how you sleep, and they find out, too; hence there is all the more reason for your living circumspectly. Do not, however, deem yourself truly happy until you find that you can live before men’s eyes, until your walls protect but do not hide you; although we are apt to believe that these walls surround us, not to enable us to live more safely, but that we may sin more secretly. I shall mention a fact by which you may weigh the worth of a man’s character: you will scarcely find anyone who can live with his door wide open. It is our conscience, not our pride, that has put doorkeepers at our doors; we live in such a fashion that being suddenly disclosed to view is equivalent to being caught in the act. What profits it, however, to hide ourselves away, and to avoid the eyes and ears of men? A good conscience welcomes the crowd, but a bad conscience, even in solitude, is disturbed and troubled. If your deeds are honourable, let everybody know them; if base, what matters it that no one knows them, as long as you yourself know them? How wretched you are if you despise such a witness! Seneca Moral Letters 43.3-5
“Recognition” – this is a word we all love. Whether it is recognition for our excellence at the workplace or standing first in a tournament. There is a deep longing for recognition in each and every human being. In fact, if we observe closely, a lot of our actions are just an effort to get recognition. Recognition is one of the major appraisal policies in corporate culture. And surprisingly, it has shown even more positive results than a cash bonus.
But, there is nothing wrong with longing for recognition. We do what we can, and expect appraisal in return, that’s fair. But the problem arises when recognition rises above a temporary feeling of happiness. When recognition gets to our heads, our focus starts shifting from the work we do, to the result we expect that will get us more and more recognition. In fact, a point may come when most of our actions are just oriented towards getting more and more recognition.
And if such a situation comes, our growth as a person stops. We keep rounding about the vicious circle of desire and neglect the work that needs to be done. So, while it is good to receive recognition, it’s also our responsibility that it doesn’t get to our head. But how can we do that? Is there really something we can do about this? There is, and it is through Stoic Mindfulness. .
What Is Stoic Mindfulness?
See that thou secure this present time to thyself: for those who rather pursue posthumous fame do not consider that the men of after time will be exactly such as these whom they cannot bear now; and both are mortal. And what is it in any way to thee if these men of after time utter this or that sound, or have this or that opinion about thee? Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 8.44
Mindfulness is one of the most misinterpreted words one can mind. There has been a lot of business going on in the name of mindfulness. So, first, let’s understand the correct meaning of Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state when we are fully aware of our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Sounds confusing? Don’t worry, let’s understand it this way.
If we observe closely, we are unconscious for most parts of the day. Most of our bodily and mental activities are performed unconsciously. Have you ever noticed that while walking home, you really need not pay any attention. It’s as if your legs are walking on their own. In the same way, most of our activities are done by the body itself, without the need for any intervention of our own.
The same is true with thoughts and emotions as well. We are not aware of them at all. Suppose a thought occurred, now you will find yourself taking a ride along that thought. You would completely forget your surroundings and hop from one thought to another. That’s what we know as “lost in thoughts“. However, if that’s how our mental activities are conducted, it has the potential to cause great damages to us.
So, with Stoicism we can develop a process through which we can be completely aware of our inner and outer realities. It does take discipline. We ust need to observe our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations and movements, without any judgment. We need not label any thoughts or emotions as good/bad, positive/negative. Neither we need to interrupt or change anything. We just need to observe, without any prejudice or involvement.
So, what will happen if we do this? For the first time in life, we will notice that we are not our body, mind, or emotions, we are separate. So, a little space would be created between the ‘me’ and ‘mine’. So, even if a negative thought occurs, we would not be affected, because we would know that we are not the thought, we are the observer. But remember, don’t try to alter the thought, otherwise we will again get trapped in the same cycle. Mindfulness is the journey towards the center from the periphery, where everything is calm, without any disturbance from outside.
How can we use mindfulness on receiving recognition?
Before understanding this, first, we have to understand whether recognition itself is good for us or not. Recognition is a major driving factor for our activities. So, yes it is needed for sure. But as we said earlier, what will happen if we start doing our work just for the sake of receiving recognition? Then things can turn complex. All our attention will be diverted towards the result rather than the work that we need to put into this.
There’s a beautiful anecdote. Once a person asked a wise man, that is why focusing on the destination, only makes the journey longer? The wise man replied, “with one eye focused on the destination, we have only one eye left to focus on the journey.”
So, it’s good to receive recognition when we actually deserve it. But if we start getting false recognition, it will only do the work of feeding our ego. And it is not at all good for our growth as a person. So, it’s good to apply Mindfulness when receiving recognition. So, while you will be glad to be recognized, you will also stick your feet to the ground.
Mindfulness is something we should practice the whole day. It has the power to bring tremendous changes in our lives. It is not something that we especially need to apply when we receive recognition. Rather, we need to make it a part of our daily life. So, its effect will reflect automatically on every aspect of our lives, including recognition.
So, here’s a simple practice to start with. When you are walking, just watch how your legs are walking, become an observer. When taking a bath, just feel the water touching your skin and flowing down through it. When eating, Become completely immersed in the food. Take it, feel it, and try to feel its complete taste. By and by, you will feel a sense of joy arising in your being, without the need of any outside influence. That’s what Mindfulness can do to us.
Effect of Mindfulness on imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is the syndrome in which we are filled with self-doubt regarding our success. We feel that we have not achieved success through our efforts, and hence we do not deserve success and recognition. Mindfulness can help in this situation too.
Imposter syndrome is an ’emptiness’ within us. Mindfulness has the potential to fill that gap. Through mindfulness, we will become aware of our activities. Hence, we would know whether we have done what was required or not. Whether our success is by luck or a product of our hard work. We will learn to embrace our work and will start linking the results to the work we have done. In this way, Mindfulness could prove beneficial in imposter syndrome as well.
Things to keep in mind while practicing Mindfulness
The reason why most people find mindfulness frustrating is that they try too hard to it. Essentially, it’s an effortless process. For example, we do not require any effort to hear, to see, to feel, it’s just effortless. The same is true with Mindfulness, it should become the very part of our being. But, it’s not possible at the beginning. So, we should try to keep the effort at the minimum. It should not in any way clash with the activity we are doing. Mindfulness shouldn’t become an activity itself. If you also feel frustrated, know that you are trying to do it too hard.
And the second thing that needs to be understood we have lived in unawareness our whole life. So, don’t expect to remain Mindful throughout the day. You will keep forgetting, it is natural. Don’t become angry about the fact that you forgot. Instead, whenever you remember, become Mindful again. That’s the most simple way to do it.
So, by now, your basics on Mindfulness must be clear. Don’t wait for tomorrow, it never arrives. Start today itself. It will surely help you deal with recognition in a very positive way. But, that is just a small benefit of Mindfulness. It has the power to transform our lives. Just persistence is needed. If we ascend the heights of Mindfulness, all miseries will end, a sense of joy will arise. Life will become a song, a dance, a celebration of the divine.