“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” –Coco Chanel
I have opinions about a lot of topics. Sometimes I express them out loud, either in spoken or written form. Mostly I keep them to myself. Having your own views, as well as the freedom to express them, is a basic human right. On the other hand, it is not your right to demean and belittle other people, spread hatred, or ruin a person’s reputation, yet many of us have done this (present company included) and use, the phrase, “It’s just my opinion” to absolve us of any responsibility for our actions. Some opinions shouldn’t be spoken out loud, regardless of how truthful they are. In the past, I have used the qualifier, “It’s not mean because it’s true”, when gossiping about flaws of an acquaintance. I know for a fact that I would not have verbalized that opinion had the person been in the room. (It’s okay offend someone when they’re not around. To their face? That would be rude)
I’m a bit touchy about this because I have been on the receiving end of someone else’s negative opinion. It wasn’t a situation where it was told to me directly. That would have been too easy. Instead, I overheard an entire conversation about my many faults. (I used to curse being small and quiet, but it’s benefited me greatly. Especially in instances where I don’t want to be seen or heard) Anyway, it was the catalyst for my long, drawn-out battle toward unconditional acceptance. Prior to that moment, I had a pretty low opinion of myself. Hearing that others felt the same way didn’t help, and I felt totally dejected. One day, I was talking to my mother about it, and she asked me three questions that changed how I felt. How do you feel about what was said? (Angry!) Do you believe it? (No, ), and Does it matter? (No, )
It was then that I realized that, while everyone I meet will have an assumption about me based on a combination of superficial and comprehensive factors, how they feel about me does not have to shape how I feel about myself. We all have a tendency to see ourselves through rose-coloured glasses and soft-focus lighting while we view everyone else through a microscope. In order for me to see my great qualities, I had to acknowledge and accept that I had bad ones too. We all do. My critical acquaintance inadvertently taught me that how others see us is less important than how we see ourselves. After all, when I leave the presence of everyone at work, church, the mall, and the bus, I still have to live with me. I get too much opposition from outside to start battling within. Fortunately, I went from caring what everyone thought about me, to not caring what anyone thought. I’m flattered when anyone thinks of me at all because it means that, for better or worse, I stand out. I wasn’t born according to majority rule, so I refuse to live my life by it. And when you like the person you are, you have the freedom to be yourself without being ashamed.
Besides, highly critical people are like the walking wounded, only instead of showing their trauma on the outside, they wear it within. Picking everyone else’s faults apart helps them feel better about themselves. I’m not one to question anyone’s path to personal happiness unless it is self-destructive, but I can’t help but notice how the ‘high’ we get from airing negative opinions doesn’t last long. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have to keep doing it. My point is as long as you are a human being, living on planet earth, people will judge you. They will judge you based on your looks, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion (or lack thereof), ethnicity, plus thousands of other variables–and you can’t do anything about it.
You’re the one who has to decide whether your life–in all of its entirety–belongs to you, God (if you are so inclined), or everyone else. Choose wisely because you will have to live with the decision you make.