Sticking With Our Own Opinions

Daily Quote from Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements:

Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Needless suffering is an old familiar companion of mine.  I never believed my suffering was needless, but now I look back and see that I gathered a lot of sadness and anger based on the opinions of other people.  At the time, (through most of my adult life, in fact,) I couldn’t think of anything — not anything — more important than the acceptance and approval of my family, my friends, my co-workers and bosses, and the general human population.  The negative judgment of me from any of these directions automatically reenforced my own feelings of imperfection, inadequacy, and hopelessness.

I wish I could remember what happened to start me feeling that way, but the longer I work with a psychologist, the more I believe that the why of a thing is less important than the what and how — what do I need to replace those feelings, and how do I get it?  The most important change I made was simply to talk the talk — to act like I was free of others’ opinions until I knew I was, and then to act on that knowledge.  I found that, almost immediately, my talk became my walk, and I truly understood that what others think of me is irrelevant to me, even though those beliefs may seem a little selfish.  I learned the value of selfishness along with mastering the lesson of self-worth and self-confidence.

People who have known me for a very long time find my confession of  low self-confidence during those years somewhat unbelievable.  I projected the image of a busy, together girl, but inside, I quaked a bit at the imagined thoughts behind the eyes of others.  More than a couple of times in my life, I was faced with a decision — stay and face the opinions of others, or leave and try to start over somewhere else.  I usually chose the second option.

But then, I finally understood that others’ thoughts of me were products of their own creations, and truly had no effect on me at all.  This is the old premise, “No one can hurt me unless I let them”, at work.  With that comprehension came the freedom to stop worrying, stop suffering over others’ opinions, and to begin to create my own reality.  From always being miserable, I became unusually content, and even with brief setbacks into sadness or frustration, I never feel that helpless sense of vulnerability as strongly, or for very long at all.  Just another small miracle in this beautiful process of change.

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7 responses to “Sticking With Our Own Opinions

  1. Wow, this is very powerful stuff! Thank you for being so candid about it. I must admit that there are still plenty of times that I worry about the opinion of others, but it’s only about 30% of what it used to be. Worrying about what others think of you is a kind of inner slavery.

    I think that most of us learn this kind of thing very early in life, and possibly in a day and age when the language around people creating their own dreams, realities, and impressions didn’t widely exist. It was always, “You made me do that!” and it was often coming from the adults.

    But, fortunately for me, those days are long over now and I’ve finally come to realize that I’m actually a pretty good human being after all! 🙂

    Thanks for giving me reason to reflect on this. You have a beautiful way of putting these things.

  2. While acceptance and approval from family and friends is important, it is more so that we have that within and for ourselves.
    Another quote similar to yours, “what others think of you is none of your business” and I love the “those that matter don’t care and those care don’t matter”

  3. a wonderful post … so important to understand this … it takes us all our lives to get there judith … just this morning i was thinking of my 40yr old d-i-l being terrified of public speaking and realising i was the same at 40 …whereas now i am free to be myself and what others think is their business …. good for you!!! christine xx

    • Thanks so much, Christine. I was a very long time understanding that one simple idea, but life is now so much better. Oh, well — better late than never! XOXOXO

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