1. If I say that valentines day is overrated and commercial, apparently I have grown old. Although I may think that for true love, age no bar and day no bar.

2. If I choose not to be on facebook or other social media, apparently I am going ‘through a phase’. Although I may think that most social platforms have turned into shallow mediums for expression and virtual validation.

3. If I choose to reach and leave early from work, apparently I am not as serious or dedicated about my career as others who come in late and leave late. Although, I may focus more on being productive during those hours.

4. If I choose not to go to temples, apparently I am an atheist. Although, I may believe that God does not reside within stones at temples, but in one’s beliefs.

5. If I follow a certain kind of diet, apparently I am starving and trying to get to size zero. Although, I may be eating just the right things in the right proportions.

Are we caught up in a world, where we believe what others believe? And do things because others in our social circle do it, and so we believe that must be the right thing to do? When we step back into our minds and identify our true values, we can know what drives our behaviour and what impacts us.

I was recently lucky enough to be coached by a professional coach and as a process, one of the sessions involved identifying my value systems. My top 5 values that make me respond or react are 1) respect and trust, 2) freedom, 3) integrity, 4) efficiency and productivity and 5) being intellectual and smart.

And I now realize that when I am judged, in the ways above or otherwise, it bothers me because my topmost value is respect. And respect includes respect for a person’s beliefs without being judged. 

Sometime ago, I had to meet a person for a potential match (the great Indian arranged marriage). It turned out that I got myself interviewed at that meeting rather than having a conversation of getting to know each other. And when I asked him if he was judging me, he replied ‘yes, its a natural thing to do’!!!

When someone judges, it establishes a sense of self-righteousness without giving themselves an opportunity to actually understand the other person. And so while passing comments is easy, it doesn’t really let one grow as an individual.  We uplift ourselves when we learn to respect divergent views rather than becoming condescending towards a contrary opinion. For opinions are a result of the experiences one goes through, which can be very individualistic, and yet not necessarily wrong.

So, while I may have reacted rather than responded while being judged earlier, introspecting now, I empathize with people who are chained in a line of thinking that spans between narrow boundaries. However, if one can consciously just push their thinking a little beyond these limits, they can probably get a perspective that stretches way beyond our conventions. The professional benefits of hearing out different views of one’s teammates can be unprecedented as it can encourage open discussions and constructive criticisms and channel efforts towards innovation and new ideas.

And that’s what I believe can liberate our minds towards free thinking and growth – both personally and professionally!