Don’t Be Seduced by The Opinions of Others


Sometimes it is frightening to admit how we make decisions. We hear an inner voice that tells us to do something, we trust the voice, and experience has proven that the voice is usually correct. Yet, we listen to the opinions of others and base our decision on what they tell us – not what we believe is the right choice. What is it about others’ opinions that matters so much to us? Are our egos that out of control? Or are we really just that insecure; afraid to trust our own intuition?

The Trap

I have spent many years in the opinion seduction trap. Years ago, as a young mother, I made many decisions based on what others told me. I even told my nine-year old daughter the truth about Santa Claus when I knew in my heart she had another year or two of believing. Every fiber of my being wanted to allow her that extra time, but the women in the neighborhood told me I was wrong. They said she would be made fun of at school. They said I was trying to keep her a baby and that it wasn’t fair. But seconds after I followed their advice, the crushed look on my daughter’s face was all the evidence I needed to realize that I had made a mistake. It was my own lack of confidence that caused me to trust others more than myself.

Many of us make decisions based on what others think. Some have a much greater impact on our lives than the Santa decision. I have often wondered what it is about human nature that causes us to care so deeply about what other people think.  Why do we put our next door neighbor’s opinion on a higher pedestal than we do our own? Is the kind of car we drive really an example of our character? Does it really matter if the jeans we buy are on Oprah’s list of favorite things? (Okay, unfair example, Oprah’s list seals any deal )

Damage Control

Worry of what others are thinking causes people to buy homes they can’t afford and live in neighborhoods they may not even like.  Over the years, opinion has caused gay and lesbian people to feel that they had to hide and has caused intelligent adults to mistrust people they don’t even know. In fact, “popular opinion” causes entire nations to hate one another. Not because we have any particular personal grudges, but because we are told that we should. Every time we turn on the television or pick up a newspaper or even turn on our computers we are bombarded with opinions. The fast changing landscape of technology brings opinions to us so fast that they drown out our own thoughts.

Find Internal Strength

Perhaps it is time that we all start to listen to our own internal voice again. I have found that taking short meditation breaks throughout the day provides some assistance in hearing that voice.  Start with two minutes at a time; focus on nothing except your own breathing. Stop thinking, turn off your cell, and turn off all the external noise. Just breathe.  Eventually you will begin to hear the truth speaking to you again. You will know what you should do because you will begin trusting yourself. Not strangers. You will decide who you like and who (if anyone) you hate. You will decide how to raise your kids and you will no longer allow others to hold power over you.

You are smart, you are beautiful. You can trust your instinct. You can trust your internal voice. You can trust your intuition. Stop being seduced by the opinions of others. Allow yourself the silence to hear your own inner voice; and allow yourself the confidence to trust it. And the next time you find yourself asking your co-worker or your neighbor how you should handle a situation, stop. You already know where to look for the answer.

 

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