By Brian Nadon
There’s a moment that almost everyone remembers from their childhood. They have just received something they really liked–a new shirt, a new toy, a haircut they thought was cool–and showed up for school… only to be mercilessly teased and mocked for it.
Many a trash can has been filled by this experience. The toy, the shirt, the opinion no longer the same now that some jerk has weighed in.
If this were simply the naivete of a child, it would be one thing. But the truth is that we carry this attitude with us into adulthood. Even I have spoken of it! I often say to myself, “It never ceases to amaze me,” and now I question to all of us, “why?”. “why do we all love ourselves more than other people, but care about their opinion more than our own?”
We’re proud of the job we did until our insecure boss attacks us for it. We’re excited about the book or movie or product we’re launching until we read the reviews from the critics. We feel like we’re making progress at the gym until somebody makes a nasty remark. Yet, we never stop to consider whether these people have any credibility, whether they even know what they’re talking about. Suddenly, because they commented about something we care about or are sensitive to, we believe them more than we believe ourselves. And then we are miserable.
This is no way to live. As individuals, we must cultivate our own high standards, our own strong opinions about what is right and good and important. This is what we need to use to evaluate reality. Other people’s opinions? We need to stop caring about them. Or, at the very least, we cannot give them the power to give us whiplash, to make us miserable, or to question ourselves. It is not their judgment that should be guiding our minds in the quiet of our evening journaling, because it is not their life that we are living.
It’s our life. It’s our opinion. That’s what matters.