The German-Iranian psychotherapist Nossrat Peseschkian published the following story in his book Oriental Stories as Tools in Psychotherapy. This anecdote reminds us that there are always people around us, who think they know better. If we try to please someone, we might disappoint someone else. There will always be people with a different opinion around us. Therefore it is essential, that we find out what we want ourselves and try to be as true to ourselves as possible.
In the heat of the day, a father went through the dusty streets of Keshan with his son and a donkey. The father sat on the donkey, and the boy led it. “The poor kid”, said a passerby. “His short little legs try to keep up with the donkey. How can that man sit there so lazily on the donkey when he sees that the boy is running himself ragged?” The father took the comment to heart, climbed down from the donkey at the next corner, and let the boy climb up. But it wasn’t long before a passerby again raised his voice and said, “What a disgrace! The little brat sits up there like a sultan while his poor old father runs alongside.” This remark hurt the boy very much, and he asked his father to sit behind him on the donkey. “Have you ever seen anything like that?” griped a veiled woman. “Such cruelty to animals. The poor donkey’s back is sagging, and that old dood-for-nothing and his son lounge around as if it were a divan – the poor creature!” The targets of this criticism looked at each other and, without saying a word, climbed down from the donkey. But they had barely gone a few steps when a stranger poked fun at them by saying, “Thank heavens I’m not that stupid. Why do you two walk your donkey when he doesn’t do you any good, when he doesn’t even carry one of you?” The father shoved a handful of straw into the donkey’s mouth and lais his hand on his sons’s shoulder. “Regardless what we do”, he said, “there’s someone who disagrees with it. I think we have to know for ourselves what we think is right.”