Why are opinions so hard to digest?

Ever wonder why opinions are so hard to put up with?  As much as we want to respect differing points of view, it is truly hard to understand why other people think so different from you.  It is easier to say that you respect someone for thinking differently, than it is to actually do it.  There are subjects in which each one of us is truly passionate about.  We feel that we are correct towards that subject.  We feel that our view makes sense, and why would anyone disagree with it?

The truth is that we form attachments towards certain subjects as a result of our life experiences, upbringing, culture, socioeconomic background, religion, and so forth.  Opinions are the result of a thought process that started its formation long before you realized that you thought a certain way.  There are times when we, ourselves, have no clue about how we feel towards a topic until someone introduces the subject to us.  The tough times come not from the formation of that opinion, but from the argument and disagreement that takes place with others that disagree.

What is the origin of a disagreement?  This is simple, and I am certain that you would tell me something along these lines:  “disagreement is the lack of agreement; the absence of like-mindedness among people, etc.”  Once you realize that equal thoughts emerge from the aspects that I outlined above, you can at least, move forward with more clarity.  The question is not “how do I get them to agree with me?” but “how can we disagree and still relate to each other civilly?”  My answer is quite sarcastic and simple:  mind your own business.

Listen, unless it is something that will hurt someone, breaks the law, is in violation of rights…and the rest of the legal/relational stuff:  I recommend you to mind your own business.  This does not mean that you cannot have a nice, healthy, heated debate.  It means that you do not allow yourself to lose sleep over a difference of opinions.  There are those of you who will find it hard to understand why your friend of “x amount of years” cannot agree with you on this one thing that is SO IMPORTANT TO SAVING HUMANITY.  The truth is that your friend and neighbor has every right to think for themselves.

I always say that rather than being against something, try to be for something.  Your perspective of life will change dramatically.   I used to be the type that would think about disagreement of opinions, especially the political/religious type of topic, and would just toss and turn at night trying to figure out why people thought a certain way.  I just could not wrap in my mind that others also had the same right to feel, say, or express an idea that was different than mind.  How limiting to be this way!  I found myself in the very misery of what I had created.  I went as far as breaking friendships because we did not agree.  I was so almighty, all-knowledge, all-power, all-right, all-perfect.  When in reality, I was wasting away these wonderful relationships and friendships that could have resulted in strong bonds.  I write this from the perspective of the jerk that could not, and would not, accept that others also had the ability to think on their own.

So what are we to do when things get tough and we suddenly feel that we no longer “like” someone?  We get over ourselves.  Listen, you can have a healthy friendship where you establish parameters of communication.  If you know, in your heart that you cannot deal with someone else’s difference of ideas, then you need to stay away from having a conversation that may lead to a weird argument or the exercise of the silent treatment.  If your religion has a certain set of believes, such as mine within the Christian construct, you need to ask yourself whether you are showing and extending true love.  Your job is not to judge, or convince that person of your opinions, but to extend mercy.  We extend mercy by accepting the relationship…never by judging.  If you are concerned about a friend’s lifestyle, you can safely express it without pushing away that person.  Remember that you are not perfect either.

As a Christian, I have friends from many walks of life that do not necessarily conform to the Christian lifestyle.  I have learned to show love in the place that I am in.  This does not mean that I am a passive Christian, or that I am simply okay with anything that my friends do…it means that I have openly showed who I am and that they are forever welcomed in a safe place of respect and love.

You may disagree with me, but this is who I am.  Would love to hear your opinions, whether they are in agreement or disagreement of mind.

Joy and happiness are two different things

I have often seen the terms “joy” and “happiness” used interchangeably by people.  The problem is that, although these seem to derive from similar decisions, they are truly not the same.  Not to get too “churchy” on you, but Christians have a different perspective on what joy is, and what happiness represents.  I am presenting to you this highly opinionated post from a Christian perspective; however, do not just dump it and move on.  There is quite a lot that you can get out of this.

Joy is an emotion that demonstrates a sense of content.  Being content does not mean that you have settled for something that is lesser than what you deserve.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  It means that you are at peace with yourself, that you have lived enough to know that things will work out.  You have also learned to “get over it” and move on with your life.  This all sounds very negative; however, these are true statements.  Joy is not an emotion or a word that you use as vengeance, but as an empowering feeling that no miserable memory can take away.  In the Bible, there is a verse that speaks of joy as a term of resiliency.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  James 1:2-3 (NIV).

Therefore, one can truly find joy in the trials that are presented in life.  I remember being present during the last living days of my maternal grandmother.  He was in such absolute pain from cancer that was eating at her red cells.  I prayed that either God would please remove the pain and bring her back to normal, or to get rid of all pain by sending her to grandma heaven.  My grandmother died about a week after my prayer.  I was devastated, but felt joy because I felt that she was now at peace, in a way better place than cancer!  I felt joy in my time of mourning because I was convinced that God was with me in this impact-full life trial.

Happiness is an emotion that can be confused with other emotions.  It is also dependent upon a stimuli.  Therefore, an individual cannot truly feel happy if not triggered to be happy from any source deemed to make funny the individual.

My recommendation is that you seek out a positive emotion, and exercise it like an actual muscle.  You will be surprised at how much you will want joy over happiness.

 

Politics…why opinions form and stick

You all have seen the recent political environment in the US.  Things are just out of sync these days; although I personally like think this is how the media portrays the environment.  This is certainly a non-partisan post, but don’t roll your eyes at me just yet.  It is non-partisan because I hold no labels—I’m a Psychology PhD major—I feel “funny” when I hear my name compared to something else (unless I call it to myself).  The point is that today, things tend to be captured in images and pictures.  If you look at many of the social media platforms, the end result is a salad of your life captured in:

  • Catchy memes (that express how you feel at the very moment that you post them)
  • Pictures
  • Pictures accompanied with a phrase
  • Pictures accompanied by a quote
  • Songs
  • Videos
  • Emojies
  •  Most recently…live video feeds that you can do from your different technology
  • More to come (I guess; I’m no technology guru)

It seems to me that our country goes through these “flavor of the moment” phases where we decide that a certain topic will be all the hotness and we literally lose our minds over the subject.  Now, to clarify:  I am not stating that these things are not important.  My statement comes from taking a step back and thinking whether we are treating each one of these circumstances objectively.  Is there an end to these things?  This is where we evaluate whether we need to be part of these activities or not.

  • What are the results sought?  If you hear things like “to get attention” or “to develop brotherhood/sisterhood,” “to show that I am tired of it,” and so forth.  These are signs that you may need to think about it a bit deeper.  In the end, we all want RESULTS that provide a true change.  Getting attention is find, but will the RESULTS show?
    • EXAMPLE:  I once joined a group that brainstormed ideas, discussed the purpose of something that we wanted to change at an Executive level, and were able to write a law that was actually enacted by the President.  He does not know who we are by name, but these activities truly changed the course of certain laws affecting the low to middle class workforce.
    • What am I saying here?  I would say, personally, that thinking and pairing your brains with people that are willing to work intellectually towards a goal can be so much more rewarding in the end.

Also, take into consideration who is relating the information to you.  I have seen in many platforms celebrities as the main source of inspiration and information.  Listen, a celebrity has a job and it is usually to promote something, sing, act, and most importantly…promote themselves.  Research your sources with an open mind and a neutral mindset.  Do not believe everything a political party has to say about a topic (haha…okay, you knew this already!).  Having an open mind to make your own assessments does not make you ignorant, on the contrary, it puts you above all individuals that respond emotionally to popular topics.  Perception becomes reality, isn’t that something?  But it certainly does not have to be this way.  If you live in the US, then you know that at least you are entitled to believe, think, express, and do whatever you please (as long as you don’t violate someone’s rights).

What is the tangible end result?  Be yourself.

Choices

Choices are a thing of mystery to me.  The reason why I find choices so miserably entertaining is because they are oftentimes the reason why we become so miserable.  I am speaking of any type of choice:  food, life changes, career issues, decisions, clothes, “what to wear to the party,” gift selections, Cheerios or Fruity Pebbles…you get it.

Choices bring with them an unseen 2-part problem.  The first problem is that without choices, we would complain about the lack of them.  The second problem is that with various choices, we may never be able to make a selection so…we complain for having so many of them.

There are other problems that can pile up on top of the two main issues that I presented.  Cultural background, gender, communication style, religious background (yes, I said it!), mood, and so forth are also aspects that may impact how individuals make decisions that lead to choices.  Nevertheless, I have a potential solution.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not about to give you the secret to life (which I personally recognize as Jesus…don’t laugh if you don’t believe…this is my blog–don’t censor me as I wouldn’t do that to you).  ANYWAY…I am going to give you a very simplistic way to make your choices; however,  I must warn you that you may completely dislike what I have to say.  On the flip side, I warned you about that when you were introduced to my blog so there.

Here’s my simplistic approach:  You already know what you want.  Oh stop disagreeing with me!  Yes, you do know what you want.  There’s a huge difference between being indecisive, or between two choices than not knowing at all.  You can even test what I am saying.  Let me give you a quick exercise; it is quite predictable but bare with me.  Let’s say you go to a fast food restaurant.  You get in line, wait your turn, and then finally you are right in front of the store attendant.  You are ready to order.  You give the attendant your order and she proceeds to ask:  “would you like your meal with soda or orange juice?”

STOP!  You already thought about what you want.  You either what you want, or you may think about it for a bit.  You may become indecisive; nevertheless, you did think of an answer.  You probably thought “I want soda, but orange juice is a bit healthier—I should go with the juice.”  Let’s say that you end up ordering the orange juice under the notion that it is somehow better than the Coca -Cola.  However, you can certainly pinpoint the time in which you thought about ordering the Coca-Cola.

I know this is a very simple exercise; nevertheless, the example provided you with a glimpse at how fast we tend to make decisions.  It is how fast we share those ideas that will communicate what we are asking for.  However, keep in mind that what we communicate is not always a reflection of what we actually want.  Either way, a choice takes place.  This is a very simplistic method of decision making, but it allows you to see how quick you are in making choices.

Do you want to make choices?  Put yourself in the above-mentioned exercise.  It will help you realize that making a choice is not as hard as we all think.

 

When we all agree

If we agree with everything each one of us says, does, and thinks…my sincere condolences:  you are dead.  Wanna come back to life?  A-R-G-U-E.  Not for the sake of arguing, but for your own sake.

I happen to think that debate, whether over simple or complicated subjects, is a matter of necessity.  How else would you know that there’s blood still flowing through your veins.  Look at the U.S. right now with the election issue…it is alive.  Hopefully you do not take this as me applauding the arguments that lead to violence and hatred.  That is not what this is about…no, no, no…bring yourself back.  Let’s not take ourselves too far out.

I am simply stating that if we are all agreeing with each other and do not learn the value of disagreement, then we are in for a rude awakening.  Thinking exactly alike never helped anyone.  Agreement does not effectuate change; nevertheless, disagreement leads to discussion which leads to the expansion of ideas…which leads to a changing world.  Wouldn’t you agree that a world without argument would be a boring world?  I think so…

“If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.”  George S. Patton

 

Showing the real you

We tend to respect people that are not afraid to be authentic.  It is usually not a matter of agreement, yet it has everything to do with authenticity.  I have personally felt a pang of jealousy when I hear someone say exactly what they mean regardless of the opinions of others.  Disagreement usually takes place when someone decides to challenge the individual speaking up; nevertheless, that argument would’ve never happened had not one person boldly expressed their thought process.  It takes guts to get yourself out there and be yourself.  This post is not about challenging the norm or doing the exact opposite of what society may show to be acceptable behavior.  This is about authenticity.

I have personally always said that “I don’t care” truly means “I care.”  I had spoken about this before.  There is a quote that I saw online that read something like this “Never apologize for saying what you feel; that’s like apologizing for being real.”  Now, don’t get this idea wrong.  Sometimes our true feelings can hurt others.  If we are responsible enough to hurt someone’s feelings, then we better be ready to hear crap that we are not ready to digest.  This is not about being a jerk; authenticity is sensitive to others if it originates from a healthy place.

A recent study explored the differences between individuals driven by popular opinions and those driven under personal control (Vasesia, Nunes, and Ordanini, 2016).  It was revealed that opinions that stem from larger populations are not as valuable as those that are expressed from an authentic sense of purpose.  This is because while popularity can seem to have greater exposure and agreement achieved among people, authenticity and “being real” create the sense of trust.  If you look closely at those relationships that you truly trust, you may be able to identify why specifically you may feel more comfortable with these.  It is a sense of safety, closely knowledge, and uniqueness.

Growing authentic can be hard because you may feel that you are leaving yourself open to others; nevertheless, you may soon find that you have an increased sense of peace.  You will see that you do not need to maintain an image, please others, seek out to be pleased, and will potentially sleep better at night.  There are no pretensions, or pretending to be someone else for the sake of keeping a relationship.  You may also find out how much you do like yourself.

It has taken me years to build the courage to allow others to see who I really am.  It has taken me even longer to stop saying “I don’t care,” because I saw the falseness in that statement.  I have learned little by little to accept that this is exactly who God made me to be.  There are relationships that will be built to remain, while others may be scheduled to expire.  The choice is yours.

Have the courage to be who you are.  Start slowly, but do not delay.  This is the one life that you have; live wisely.

References:

VALSESIA, F., NUNES, J. C., & ORDANINI, A. (2016). What Wins Awards Is Not Always What I Buy: How Creative Control Affects Authenticity and Thus Recognition (But Not Liking). Journal Of Consumer Research, 42(6), 897-914.

What others think of you

Oftentimes we get caught in the public opinions that others have of us.  As much as we may want to say that we do not care, the dirty little secret is that we do.  Some signs that demonstrate how much you care include:

  • Actively defying public opinions:  think about it, if you didn’t care, then why place so much energy on doing the exact opposite.
  • Looking for a reaction:  this is where I call you “Captain Obvious.”  Please do not say that you do not care when you are looking for all the attention.  I have done it myself; speaking from personal experience.
  • Saying that you do not care:  this is the ultimate statement that you do.
  • Saying that you  “don’t want drama”:  that statement screams DRAMA QUEEN.

However, there are ways to get to the “I don’t care” place and you can work to get there.  Nevertheless, you much watch yourself from becoming insensitive to others’ feelings.  After all, you do want to create meaningful relationships.  There was a time in my personal life when I became so disappointed and enraged by poor behaviors that I started to become a loner in my workplace.  I may have repeated some of the statements that you see at the top.  I went as far as declaring that I would NEVER make a friend on the job because I was there to work.  In addition to all of it, I also declared that the feelings of other people were nothing to me.  You may have guessed what happened with me later on…I became bitter.  Make sure that you don’t make this mistake; I can almost guarantee your misery.

You CAN establish meaningful relationships on the job, but you have to ensure that these relationships are meaningful.  The same holds true with your family members and friends outside of work.  You need meaningful relationships so that you can share your struggles and be encouraged.  Opinions of others do matter, but only when they are honest and sincere.  You want to build relationships based on authenticity, but you must first become authentic yourself.  These actions do not take much energy, but will take some of your effort:

  • Ask yourself if you are being true to your own values.  Do you hide your true values in order to please others?  Be watchful, this can lead to personal moral issues (whatever these are for you).
  • Are you truthful to yourself and others?  You reap what you sow.
  • Do the individuals that you relate to give you constructive feedback?  Are they afraid to tell you what you may be doing wrong out of concern or to criticize you?  Remember that you need feedback to grow, do not turn away a true friend that cares for you authentically.
  • In what moment are you establishing the relationship?  Do not judge others’ character based on momentary emotion.
  • Do these individuals help you be better?  Are they contagious in a positive way?
  • Do they make you jealous?  I don’t know that I would stick around someone that makes me green with envy.  This stems from somewhere and I feel that your relationship will not be authentic.  You’ll be constantly “trying” to not be jealous…that’s too much work.
  • Learn when it is time to say goodbye to a relationship, even if it is a close family member.  If they drain you of your energy, then you have got to move on.

I hope that this isn’t very insensitive to you, or that I have given you the ‘perfect world’ situation.  It is not going to be that way, but you need to put some effort into this or you will be forever lonely.

Getting back to the title of this post.  The opinion of others matters when the relationship is authentic.  It starts with you.

Failing miserably, losing unfairly…making it work

A while back, I suffered some personal injuries from the job that I held.  The injuries were not physical, but emotional.  Many workers out there suffer from these types of abuse at the hands of managers, yet few make the decision to walk away.  The decision to leave the situation may come for different reasons.  Some of the reasons that you may hear include:

  • Financial need
    • You are the sole breadwinner
    • Bills need to get paid
    • Child support
    • Student loans
    • No savings
    • …list goes on
  • Pride
    • You have decided not give it a fight…let them leave first!  (shakes fist furiously in the air)
  • Retirement
    • You’ve gone this far, why stop now?
  • Hoping that things will change
    • Maybe the boss will realize how bad he/she is
  • Climate surveys
    • You believe the recent climate survey will reveal all the bad stuff, upper management will finally realize how bad things are and will be forced to do something (because they are outraged!  how could they not be?); they will fire all the bad apples, you will be promoted and become a positive leader!  Oh…and unicorns exist.  The end.
  • The ‘bad’ boss will leave one day
  • Coworkers
    • They are fantastic, or at least not that bad
  • Commitment to the organization
    • You belong there…you’ve given them 20-30 years of hard work!

This is not an all inclusive list, but you get the gist of it.  The problem is that these assumptions rarely ever come true.  If they do come true, you are left with so many emotional scars, physical ailments, broken relationships, and so forth that you have essentially given up on pursuing your true dreams.  I can get really deep here on emotional stuff, but I need to get back to my personal story and how all of this applies.

The emotional wounds that I developed in this particular job took only six months to develop:  yes…6 months.  Not years.  Every day I hoped that things would change, that my leaders would see me, that my managers would be better, that the unicorns would…you get it.  That business relationship led to scars that I could not hide or cover up.  This is a very poetic way of me stating that I essentially allowed the toxic environment affect me in such a way that I started to buy into the lies.  You see?  When you have a poor leader, the corporate culture follows suit.  These poor leaders have been groomed to be this way.  They are usually high achievers that see in you a simple number.  A peon.  A pawn.  That is if they even see you.

The problem comes when they actually start to see you as a result of you pointing out issues.  In my specific situation, I brought forth corporate issues paired with potential solutions.  I provided examples of personnel issues that resulted in the environmental toxicity; yet I also brought forth positive ideas that could help improve the environmental and personality problems.  I was told over and over to withstand the personal attacks and insults that I received from the employees (which actually worked for me) by being the “better person.”  These individuals had been in that office for close to 10 years, had tried to be hired into the managerial job that I had competed for, and were rather vocal about their displeasure in me being the new boss.  Now, my style was that of a team member rather than a manager.  I wanted to hear their ideas to improve processes, I wanted to know what worked, what did not work, etc.  I recognized their hard work in writing and in front of the organization to build and boost their self-esteem.  These things did not work because the environment was toxic.  I could do no good.

I felt that if I stayed there, things would get better.  That if I continued to be positive, listen to their ideas, personality get to know them, engage them that things would change.  These individuals criticized upper managers for not recognizing their hard work (which I always recognized), they complained about leaders that never cared to get to know them, yet to the face of these leaders…they were all love.  I saw how they sabotaged other employees that they disliked.  Things that they did included:  taking credit for other people’s work, accusing others of violence (these allegations were never investigated), they also accused people of stealing.  As they saw my positive heart, they started to paint a picture of ignorance.  They would go around me to upper managers, yet these managers were okay with those actions.  As a result, I requested various meetings with my managers and supervisors to address the issues.  They started to state that I was too uptight (apparently I was to laugh off being called a “bitch” or being denied information).

I started to realize that I was tremendously vulnerable.  I realized that I did not know many aspects of the job because these employees would secretly schedule and attend meetings in which I was supposed to be in, but would tell me after the fact OR as I walked into the office unprepared.  I would then get phone calls from upper managers asking specific information, but I would have to refer them to my support team because I was clueless.  Little by little I saw sabotage activity after sabotage activity.  I set to beat them in their little games; however, I realized that I was miserable in doing so.  I read career advice columns and books that spoke about how to “be prepared” and how to “counterattack”…I CONSUMED THE INFORMATION.  Then one thing happened.

I stopped caring.  I started to look at those supposed leaders and could see their own misery.  Sure, they were highly paid, promoted, certified, recognized…blah blah blah.  Yet, they looked so UNHAPPY.  I started to contemplate whether or not this is how I wanted to end up.  I also started to look at the people that were sabotaging me.  They were simply salivating over the position that I had.  Then, I started to look at the actual position that I had.  It was not great at all!  It had a title that sounded great, yet it was a peon’s job.  Sure, we all would like to believe that “you create your own success,” yet that position was not designed in a way to allow it.  As long as those managers continued to be there, along with the corporate values and culture, that position would just be a butt-kisser’s haven.

I realized a couple of things:  these folks were meant to be together…meaning, they could have each other.  I also realized that I would be foolish to stay there if I ever wanted to grow my career and succeed.  Sure, the attraction of a safe paycheck every two weeks was there.  Growth was not going to happen if I stayed.  In addition, I had developed physical pain from the stress.  My stress was physically showing!  I could not sleep, I was paranoid imagining what else these fools would come up with.  I was paranoid about having HORRIBLE and DYSFUNCTIONAL leaders with ZERO VISION.  How could I possibly stay?

And so…I left.  My story does not have its happy ending just yet.  I am still recovering from everything that happened.  However, I do not have the ailments, worries, and physical pain.  I do have the scars, yet I have a clearer vision for my future.  Financially, I am rather tight.  However, it is okay.  It is worth the try.

Do not give up on yourself.  There’s more in you than a ‘for sure paycheck.’  You were made for greatness.  Do not buy into the lies of a toxic group of people or a person that can see how AMAZING you are, but tries to keep you from seeing it yourself.

Finally, run to your dream.  As corny as it sounds, try it.  It is better to live with home than with none at all.  I know this has been used before, but there is a lot of truth to it.

 

GO and TRY.