Don’t ponder others is about not making assumptions about what you think might be going on inside another person’s head. There’s usually more going on than you can perceive or understand.
The original lojong slogan is the same and it follows from the previous slogan about not criticising others. You can never know the motivations of others for certain and will never know why they act the way they do. The chances are, they don’t even know why they do the things they do.
Pondering others is something everybody does. It’s a normal part of being human and is how we try to understand each other. But it’s also a way to compare yourself with others to make yourself feel better when you’re insecure or scared.
As a mechanism for understanding, it’s not very good, but that doesn’t stop us from doing it. Our ponderings feed into the social pecking order as we jostle for position by answering questions like: Where do I fit in the group? Who is on my side, who can I trust? Who is my friend and who is my enemy?
This slogan says don’t ponder others – look at yourself. Look at your motivation for pondering others. You’ll never fully understand others, but you can seek to understand yourself better. And the more you understand and accept yourself, the easier you’ll find it to accept others as they are.
Apply this slogan to your writing practice when dealing with criticism of your work, questions about what agents and publishers want, as well as market trends and reader reviews.
Not all feedback and criticism is equally relevant or useful. You have to discern which parts to take on board and which parts to ignore. This is even more difficult if you start deconstructing why somebody has reacted to your writing the way they have. Don’t assume you know why an agent, editor, or publisher has rejected your writing. The possibilities are endless.
The same applies to reader reviews. There isn’t any point in worrying about what others think about your work once it’s actually been published, and you can’t control whether readers will enjoy your writing or not.
- Read the bad reviews for a book you thought was brilliant
- Read the good reviews for a book you thought was terrible
- Read both the good and bad reviews for the latest bestseller
- Keep doing this until you are thoroughly disillusioned about book reviews.
More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers