Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Truth About the Opinions of Others

My Mother used to often say "to thine own self be true." For her, that was freedom. From observation, I can tell you about one thing that meant as she lived her life, and maybe there are some revelations that many of us can understand and relate to:

She lived apart from other people's opinion of herself. She never seemed to participate in gossip or foolishness. She treated it as something that she was above, and she shut people down in no uncertain terms when they would try to impose "news" or nonsense about other people upon her. Once she told them she really didn't care about other people's business and "BS" in that way, there was little to be said after that. She made sure of it. She was emphatic about not caring how people responded to her nonchalant manner. In her own words, she'd say "I just don't give a _____ about that." You can fill in the blank with any four-letter word you choose. She used them all.

What I learned from this, from her, is that we can live free of others' opinions. Opinions can matter if they are helpful, healthy and meant with our best interest in mind. However, oftentimes we can be tossed to and fro listening to people attempting to, and successfully shaping our perspectives and views about ourselves and other things. For my Mother, that meant making her own rules about how she handled things, people and nonsense, and she lived and died by it. If she offended you by living her truth, she would leave it up to you to get over it. And, a bigger freedom for her is that she didn't care if you didn't.

Living out loud and as boldly as she did isn't for everybody. Even so, realize that the big takeaway here is that we have to define ourselves and our personal truth. Our own sense of self, confidence and strengths are at stake if we allow ourselves to be shaped and conditioned by the negative actions and opinions surrounding us. If the opinions are truly meant to help us, swallow hard and take it in. Use it. If not, try using my Mother's technique and let people know clearly you just don't care, using any languaging that can help you get your truth across. ~ S.R.F.

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