Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On the Opinions of Others:

Hello All!

A couple of days ago I read this Motivational Monday's post over on the Sprinkle of Glitter blog. It was a little kismet, earlier that day I'd gone for a walk and had been thinking, sometimes I think people take my opinions a little too seriously. As if, with my opinions, I'm telling them how they should live their lives. My immediate next thought was, hang on, I do this too!

We are herd creatures. We are borrowers. We are human and whatever you want to call it, when it comes down to the bottom line we are conformists. I made a Youtube video a few weeks ago titled the 'Sphere of Influence' which discussed the act of conformity and how it's not a 'dirty' word despite the stigma surrounding it. Another point I mentioned was that people change and form themselves based on new information/stimulation which is almost always provided by other people. It's kind of impossible to get around, the fact that we all sort of morph into one another depending on how much of one another we are exposed to. This becomes problematic, I think, when we look at silly, outdated opinions and take them on as some kind of truth.

It can be very harmful to our psyche to hear someone say, 'here is my ideal' and then look down at ourselves and realise whoa...hang on, I'm not (insert correct pronoun here's) ideal person. Is there something wrong with me? What did I do? Is it my cellulite, my acne? Am I too fat/thin? What's wrong here? We then tend to internalise these messages. The thing is, we don't have to please everyone. We were not put here on this Earth to please everyone, and we are perfectly capable of living well-rounded, fulfilling and happy lives without the input of others.

I know this is far easier said than done. As someone who has a lifetime's worth of anxiety and depression-inducing issues to work through I can tell you, this shit sticks to you. It clings. Every time you feel, 'hey I've dropped that attitude/opinion from my psyche! Oh my god! I'm free!' something else comes forward from the deep, dark depths of your brain to snap at your confidence, leer and say, 'guess again'.

I thought I was alone in this respect until quite recently. Out of the blue (kinda) I asked someone if they ever felt that once they'd 'gotten over' one issue a new one, one they never even REALISED they had in the first place, took over. This person agreed with me and I thought, wow. Another friend identified this kind of thinking pattern as part of the energy of an 'entity', which is a spiritual term well worth Googling. I think that, whatever you want to call it; entity, thought cycle, anxieties, etc, it's worth remembering that you've beaten this pattern once and you can do it again.

When I feel like this there are a few things I like to try and remember:

1. The old anxiety was usually 'worse' in my mind than the newer one is:

If I used to think 'oh god I have an awful personality, I'm awkward and everyone probably hates me' and now think, 'oh god, I can't leave the house because my skin has gone beserk and I don't want anyone to know' I can usually use logic and rationality to think the following: Hold up, Ellen. You are cool. You have been through a lot and have come out the other side with a much better perspective. You have a lot to learn but also a lot to teach. When you look at people, do you think 'ew wrinkles/acne/flab' or do you think, 'damn, there is a freaking LIGHT shining out of this persons soul'? I think the latter. I know not to stress too much about 'looks' or superficial worries.

2. See others as you see yourself:

This goes hand-in-hand with number 1. If I see people as these beautiful, beaming, energetic golden lights and rarely notice their physical looks, why would they ever notice mine? I know not EVERYONE see's people like this, but isn't it worth still looking at even those people in this way and treating them accordingly? Won't that spread a message of light and love more than anything else? I have these moments sometimes where (and I'm about to sound INSANE so bear with me) I look at my friends and they might be smiling or doing nothing and I just see this brightness and beauty in them that makes me so happy and proud. Like a five year old's mum hanging her kids mac and cheese painting on the fridge.

3. Reality is what you make it: 

In all seriousness. Think about it like this, you're sitting in a room with friends and there are two sentences in your head. One is a negative and one a positive. One is something akin to, 'I loved the outfit you wore to the party last week, you looked so cool!' and the other is, 'You know, I don't really like so-and-so - she annoys me' (seriously these are the best examples I could come up with...sorry). Which would you rather say? Before you answer, before you think of some random you don't like think of this: Which reality do you want to create, a negative one full of bitchiness and insecurities, or a positive one? Chances are that you want to live in a safe, healthy world with happy, healthy people. I know I do. So you choose the sentence which creates that reality and that influences others to do the same, including when they think about you. Spinning conversation is an art I learned about far too late. I used to create the most negatively founded friendships. I'm much better off not doing so these days.

4. It's rarely about you:

Think about how often you're caught up in your own life. I bet it's so much that sometimes you forget about a friend/family member or two, right? I know I do. I don't feel good about it, but it's a worthwhile lesson to remember. It reminds you that other people are rarely ever thinking about you. You see, other's have lives too. It's funny that we forget that, and get insecure and think 'man, they're thinking about me again! Oh god why did I do/say that?' But the reality is, these other people do all these weird and embarrassing things too. They go to work and want to paint or write books in their spare time. They are thinking so much they will very rarely be thinking about you. Sure, you might cross their mind from time to time, but it'll be rare. It's rare that I remember someone else's embarrassing moment. Hell, right now I can't think of one other person I know embarrassing themselves, but I bet I could pull up like ten of my own erhm...moments. THAT'S how wrapped up in themselves others are. They're flashing back to the time they called their year three teacher 'mum', they're not judging your crazy floral pants. If they are they clearly have absolutely nothing else going on. You shouldn't care too much about those people, they're the boring ones you'll learn nothing from.

5. People might think about you sometimes, but people think a LOT of stupid crap:

...And if it's those particular people you're worried about well, read the above. People might think about you. They might judge you. But people think so much stupid crap it's hardly worth worrying about. I know, this is easier said than done, but the point is to internalise messages like this rather than messages which suggest everyone is watching you. Trust me, it can be done. Things DO get better. You are strong enough to beat this, maybe you just need your key mantra to be delivered in a language you can understand, one that resonates deeply enough with you that you will remember it monthly, weekly, daily, until it becomes a part of you. I never used to believe in mantra. Boy was I a silly duffer.

And in conclusion...

It's all about whether or not you give the opinions of others a position of power in your mind or not. Opinions, when delivered by those who you do NOT place in a power position in your micro world, mean absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. Just because so-and-so adheres to this particular version of reality or truth they have created based on social paradigms and ideas they have been indoctrinated into does not mean that you must too. Nor does this mean that you have failed at life or fallen short because you don't quite fit into the mold this particular person has carved for others. It just means, relax, move on, find a new conversation path. You might feel displaced by a certain comment, but if you breathe and take a few moments to gather yourself you can remember - You do not ever have to give a person in your life a position of power if you do not want to. We decide who influences us. We simply need to be more aware, more present, in order to discern when influence is occurring.