It’s redundant for me to have an opinion on opinionated people, don’t you think? But I really do and it’s making me a little crazy.
For the last few years I have been struck by how counterproductive strong personal opinions are for me. Negative or positive – it’s all the same thing as far as I am concerned. It’s a right and wrong, black and white up and down that really only exists in our faerie tale minds.
Last night I met a woman I had never met before who had been making quite merry all night. At one point she grabbed at my husband’s cigarettes (he has been struggling to quit for a while now) and starting sneering at him
“what are you gonna do?” she jeered
“You gonna be an idiot and smoke this?” She waved the pack at him sitting back arrogantly with her glass of whatever in her other hand.
“Um…” I could see he was visibly shaken, not knowing how to handle this strange aggressive approach.
She wanted to humiliate him in some way, and frankly I felt bad for him. Addicted is addicted and for sure I m not going to be the one to throw stones from my glass house. In all my attempt to be “compassionate” towards all people, I found it a little tough with this one. Soon, I found words spilling out of my unhindered unfiltered mouth. Generally this is not a good thing.
“So, does your shoulder hurt?” I asked her pointedly
“Hunh?” she looked at me quizzically
“Does your SHOULDER hurt?” I said pointing to the portion of my body above my arm below my neck, in case you need instructions like she did
“Well, it is a little stiff..”
“Yeah, that’s what happens when you walk around in your life carrying a heavy gavel and judging people. Why don’t you just lay it down.” I stared at her predatorially watching her eyes drop conflicted to her feet.
“Well mine’s just fine then…” She murmured staring at her feet.
“Give it time”…I said smiling sardonically.
Oh great. Good old “zen-me” had just reacting to someone being humiliated by humiliating the, So much for non-violence…
She wanted to go at him about cancer being caused by cigarettes. Meanwhile my brain wanted to tell her all sorts of things, about being overweight, having a lousy attitude, her bleached blond hair, carcinogenic make up tested on poor little bunnies, her diamonds mined in South Africa, her need to control other people…omg. My brain wouldn’t shut up – thankfully I had found my filter, and we packed up not wanting to ruin what had been a lovely evening.
I remember when I was young I had an opinion about everything. In my family it was a way to be valued. The more opinions you had = the smarter you were. Generally I wasn’t much into telling others how to run their lives. But on world issues and grander things, you couldn’t have shut me up.
But here’s what I know now: if someone does something that annoys me (like to the pint this woman’s attitude annoyed me..) then it is ONLY because that same aspect exists inside of me. The bright light of imperfection shone directly on my face like a crazy celestial spotlight. It was me..not her. I cant change a person or how they behave. I can only choose to accept exactly as they are, them or not. I knew this was true because I came away from the judging woman with a sense of annoyance, which I think is a good thing. That feeling is an indication I have to look at something within myself. Seeing it like that makes the altercation not useless – but useful for my own personal understanding and growth. Having a perception of conflicting relationships like this can really change the way you feel about interacting with the world.
What it came down to was I think we all have that “inner critic”. And, there is a distinct difference between a critic and being discerning. We were all given the power to discern what works for us and what doesn’t. I can observe a person’s behaviour or choices, and in view of how I am moving forward in my life, I can discern whether or not it is a good relationship for me or a counter-productive one, for now.
So, I realize how redundant it is for me to blog about my opinion about people’s opinions, but I am seeing a trend which is kind of black and white, and probably attributable to social networking. Daily posts from people that are like personal opinion vomit – all day long. They just go on and on and how one person is bad, or a country is bad, or an institution is bad…oy. This isn’t productive and it gets tedious reading and seeing such of negative comments.
I say – shut up and go DO something a bout it. If you complain about a problem more than once without taking action – you are officially whining.
I’m grateful for my annoyance as it has made me aware enough to back off of my own strong opinions – but it doesn’t mean I will lose my sense of discernment. If I am stuck to what I think about a person place or situation, then I am not accepting that person place and situation and I guarantee you that the only one who will be miserable from that kind of unconscious bull-in-a-china-shop thinking – is ME.
So, in my efforts to be more gentle and compassionate with my own self (yes…a huge challenge), I am going to take a dose of my own medicine and remind myself that even the judging woman needs to be accepted. We are ALL perfectly imperfect, as my mom used to like to remind me when I would beat myself up.
Accepting people and not always having a false belief that I can change the unchangeable is a very powerful tool in keeping emotional balance and avoiding depression. It’s all just one more thing to add to your toolbox, if that works for you.
Have a great weekend.