I think the issue that you dealt with in the past is related to the issue that you are having now.
You wrote: “Years ago, you helped me change what I think was my gati of playing the world’s moral policeman, and always getting offended by what other people were doing wrong.”
Then you wrote: “So even though I understand intellectually that I should not be worrying about other people’s opinion of me good or bad how do I understand it on a deeper level so that instinctively it stops bothering me?”
So, you are still being bothered by other people’s actions in an indirect way. This time you are worried about their OPINION of you.
– Of course, it is human nature to be liked and praised. But we need to be realistic.
– We know that there are all kinds of people with vastly differing opinions. Some have correct opinions based on correct views/knowledge. Others have wrong opinions based on wrong views and misunderstandings.
When those people, who may have wrong opinions of your views, figure out that they had looked at those issues incorrectly, they will turn around. They may even start having a high opinion of your views.
There is a good example in the Tipitaka. Vacchagotta used to visit the Buddha frequently and asked many questions. There is a whole set of suttas based on his questions.
– During the initial interactions with the Buddha, Vacchagotta was building confidence in the teachings of the Buddha. But on several occasions, the Buddha refused to answer some questions or gave answers that did not sit well with Vacchagotta. One time, he told the Buddha that he was displeased with the answers given by the Buddha.
– Yet, letter on, Vacchagotta started comprehending the correct world view, became a bhikkhu, and attained the Arahanthood.
The only thing you need to worry about is whether YOUR own views are correct or not.
– Keep learning and you will build confidence.
– Then you will not be bothered by the opinions of others.
For example, I know that I may offend some people when I answer questions. But I cannot just “go with the flow” and try to please others. I have to say what I see to be correct. Of course, in some cases, I would have to change my statements. Anyone can make a mistake.
– We all will make fewer mistakes as we learn more. Keep learning!