(Not) Acting on my Own Opinions

I’m writing about the subject of an older affirmation by Abraham-Hicks.  I copied this quote from his email to me, on the 11th of November, but I never wrote the post.  I’m ready to now.

Your joy factor will remain constant as you are continually refining your ideas of what you want, and that’s why it is so important for you to get everybody else out of the equation. They’ve got their own game going on; they don’t understand your game. Give them a break; stop asking them what they think. Start paying attention to how you feel. Joy will be yours immediately, and everything else that you have ever thought would make you happy, will start flowing, seemingly effortlessly, into your experience.

— Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in Asheville, NC on Saturday, October 25th, 2003 # 629

Today’s affirmation from Abraham Hicks regards the Law of Attraction.  That law, that like calls to like, operated and still operates in my life; for most of my adult life, I have been depressed, frightened, and angry, and those emotions already present in my life called down more sadness, fear, and anger with each minute that passed.  But very recently, I realized what was happening, and made that conscious decision of bring happiness and contentment into my days, by allowing myself to vibrate to the positive forces in my life.

Abraham asks us to stop depending on the opinions of others, and instead for gather to ourselves  contentment and joy in our current times.  I have a lot of experience with paying more attention to what others think and feel about me.  It started as a child; I focused so intently on making my parents happy, or at least not angry with me.  This strategy failed miserably, but that need for approval cemented itself in my personality.

As I got older, I strove to receive the good opinions of others, to the detriment of my own feelings about myself.  But the fact that I ignored my own feelings weighed my conscious and subconscious mind, affecting every part of my life.  I knew I was miserably depressed — that was one emotional opinion I embraced for years.  (I’m sure I recognized what I was doing to call this misery on myself, at some level, but I hadn’t yet learned to accept that part of my personality.)

 hooligans In fact, the opinions of others were so important to me that I sometimes deliberately misbehaved, if I wasn’t getting enough feedback from anyone.  I played out this scenario in the church in Stoney Brook, New York.  I was lacking something, in my leadership of the small United Methodist Congregation in that village.  I can’t even explain to myself what happened.  Over the course of a month, I went from feeling okay, to needing attention desperately.  Where did I find that attention?  On the front patio of the only bar in town — I’d go over to the bar, buy a drink, and then hang around on the porch, as though I were inviting people to notice me there, with the other patrons of the bar, for so my congregation named them.

I wish I knew why I’d behaved that way.  I certainly did attract attention.  In fact, I was lucky that I quit, before the supervising committee in my district fired me.

After reading this affirmation, I think I see a little of my motivation.  I became the calm, well-educated and capable pastor, counseling, performing weddings and funerals and,( if I do say so myself,) writing really well when I wrote sermons and put services together.  I also carried six credits of undergraduate work at Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, the work-at-home division of State University of New York.  Between school and the church, I devoted a good chunk of my time to serious pursuits.  I began to tire a little of all the work and no play.  So I took matters into my own hands.

The Stony Brook Inn and Tavern was about two blocks down the main road from the church.  Anyone driving into or out of town, or going to the tiny grocery store in Lake Luzerne, NY, (a slightly larger town next to Stony Brook; I also had a church there,) needed only to look up, and there I was, sipping on a beer or a margarita, and as likely as not, smoking a joint and talking about anything but religion with the local guys —  hooligans, some of my parishioners called them.

Occasionally, I met some man or woman who wanted to talk about religion, about God and faith and church community.  I’d sit right there and discuss all of the topics he or she was questioning.  Occasionally, these conversations were pathways to joining the congregation and attending church, and I brought in several new members that way.  Ditto, football games.  I would cheer for the Patriots, and everyone else loved the New York Giants, of course.  But sometimes the talk turned to religion.

I am not sure how I got from other people’s opinions to here.  I guess because when I was a pastor, almost my entire focus was to gain the approval of others.  When I tired of working hard for that goodwill, I cut loose as far as I could away from trying to measure up to others’ opinions of me, but not toward my own opinions.  If I couldn’t have approval, I was going to by-God get some disapproval.

I learned, recently, that the only opinion I need consider is my own.  Sometimes I receive important feedback, in spite of myself, and I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it.  But matters of judgment were and still are my responsibility.  That means that the joy those thoughts and judgments bring fills me more each day, and I have a good supply of backup, for when I edge down into the sadness again.  Think how different the world would be, if each of us could learn to care about ourselves, and to invite happiness into our days.

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15 responses to “(Not) Acting on my Own Opinions

  1. Pingback: Inclining Toward a Life of Joy | Diabetic Redemption

    • Thank you — I bet you can relate. An evangelical family is an addictive entity, just like my parents’ addictions — Mom’s to sadness, and Dad’s to knowing it all. In the end we all have to forgive our families, and realize that they were doing the best they could. Thanks so much for understanding. 😎

  2. Though I don’t remember the age, I do consciously remember realizing that if I put myself down in a verbal comment, others would say, ‘no, that’s not true.” And I thought myself very clever to have discovered a way to receive a compliment. Of course, as you know, when you constantly say negative things about yourself, you begin to believe them, even if on one level you know its not true.
    As noted in this post, learning to accept and love ourselves for who we are, warts and all, no matter what anyone else thinks is a way to ‘reclaiming your power’ and happiness. Besides, other’s opinions are most often a reflection of them and not you, correct? 😉

    • Exactly right. I believed all the bad things, though, and stayed mired in that misery for a very long time. Very, very hard to escape that kind of label. I still wrestle with it sometimes.

  3. It’s hard though to not care about other opinions, especially if they are in a position to stomp you for ignoring them (parents, bosses, really anyone in authority). Very thoughtful post – thanks.

    Nancy

  4. I love what Abraham had to say and also what you wrote about how it pertains to you. We are responsible for our own sense of joy and how we attain it. We don’t have time to even consider what others are doing to bring joy into their lives, because there is too much work and listening to get our ducks in a row, so to speak. We have to love ourselves, no matter what we are going through, Julia. Judgement of others are out of our ballpark. Besides judgement is left up to our Sovereign God. When we judge others, we will be judged the same way when we stand before Him at the Throne. Let’s do what you say and invite joy and peace into our own days. We will have a much better life.

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