We all have opinions.
About many things. Things we know about and things we don’t.
Other people also have opinions.
Just like us, their opinions range on just about everything and anything.
We know this. Don’t doubt it. But when our opinions are questioned, watch out. When others challenge our opinions, step aside. Because we naturally assume our opinions are right and others should agree with us.
Well, shouldn’t they?
And wouldn’t life be easier if they did?
But they don’t. Everyone has freedom to hold their own opinions. And that, dear friend, is the rub. And what we often consider the problem. But is it?
Our ever-changing opinions
Years ago, I was standing in the living room bouncing my first newborn to quiet her when a childless friend casually mentioned that when she got pregnant, she hoped she had twins.
“Really?” I asked. “Do twins run in your family?”
“No. I just can’t see going to all that trouble for just one child. One child would just be way too easy to raise, while twins would be a little more of a challenge.”
Well, that floored me. It also made me wonder how much she knew about babies.
“Maybe you should try for triplets,” I joked.
“No, that would be too much work and more challenge than I am willing to invest,” she answered.
Well, you can’t say she didn’t know her limits. No more than two at a time.
When she had only one child a few years later, I didn’t ask her if she still wanted twins or if her one charming child was hardly a challenge? Partly because I am not confrontational, and partly, because she looked wrung out.
But also, because I have emphatically stated some not so wise opinions of my own. I don’t want people, a few years later, reminding me of my lack of intellect and the many glaring loopholes that resided in my past opinions.
I am sure her opinion that having only one child at a time would only be using a fraction of her mothering abilities, had now changed.
And that is what happens to us. Our opinions often change. Get fine-tuned. Change directions. Get blurrier and readjusted.
Time, experience, new insight, the ensuing years, maturity, different environments, new opportunities, new information, different perspectives, and much more contribute to changing our opinions.
Many of the opinions we held ten years ago have probably changed in some way. Often because we have changed and grown over the years.
Of course, not all our opinions have changed, but enough have that we would disagree with some of our opinions from years past.
And this is good. It shows we are growing, changing, maturing, and learning from life.
So, what’s the problem?
The problem with opinions
Part of the problem with our opinions is that we take so many of them very seriously. When we are spouting our opinions, they are often something we believe or hold to be true. They seem logical and correct when we are stating them.
I was 16 and siting at the dinner table when I made this bold announcement to my family. “I knew who I am going to marry.”
My older brother snorted. Then began laughing.
My sister asked who it was.
My baby brother stuffed some peas in his mouth.
My calm dad looked up.
My little sister asked if she could be in the wedding.
My younger brother asked for some more food.
My mother quipped, “Really? I hardly think you know who you will marry. Or that it will actually happen. How old are you? ”
Which made me mad, because what did she know? How could she question my opinion? And why was my brother suddenly laughing uncontrollably? And no, I wasn’t going to tell them who I was intending to marry. Why would I release my secret to the world when they would only laugh and question my sanity?
We often get vested in our opinions and are willing to defend them through a few rounds of wrestling and bloody fighting
And that is what I did. I snarled back and told them they knew nothing. I would prove them wrong. They could laugh all they wanted, but I knew what I was talking about. Then I left the table in a puff of anger.
We often defend our important opinions because we assume that someone questioning or attacking our opinions is attacking us. That if they are not for our opinions, they are against us. And because we personalize our opinions, we are almost instantaneously willing to enter the bloody fray to defend our opinions (which we think is defending ourself).
I can look back and see that I have often considered my opinions as right and true. Which means, that if someone questions me, that means they are wrong. Almost instantaneously, sides get drawn of good and bad, right and wrong. With me being on the side of right. Them being on the team of wrong.
Why we hold onto and fight for our opinions
Opinions are problematic because we are often vested in them. We hold so tightly to them and own them as the truth. Our truth. Our opinions. We label them as ours. Or as mine, mine, mine.
We give them great authority and weight, which is why we willingly argue for them. (Even when we know very few minds are changed from an argument.) We may get personally offended if our opinions are questioned and feel the person dislikes us, so to defend our opinions we label them as wrong and us as right. (Even when we know there are as many opinions as there are people.)
The funny thing is not that we take our opinions so personally, but the reason we take our opinions so personally. It comes down to pride.
We think we need to defend our opinions because of our pride. Our pride gets injured when our opinions are questioned. So, we jump up fighting.
Our pride of not wanting to be wrong, made fun of, questioned, or humiliated. That same pride makes us want to defend our position and prove we are right.
But this same pride also cuts off communication. It tries to stop communication that differs from ours.
Humbleness, on the other hand, listens and promotes communication. It can hold fast to its opinion without proving it is right. It can see opposing sides and different perspectives and not feel threatened. It views the relationship as more important than the opinion.
Humbleness doesn’t feel the need to defend and argue it’s position. It allows that not everyone will agree with us, and that is okay. It knows that love and understanding will change more minds than arguing and criticizing.
How to hold opinions loosely
I want to hold my opinions loosely. (Especially those I most want to defend.) Listen to others. Promote communication.
And to do this, I need to let go of my pride. Release it. So, what if someone disagrees with my opinion? I disagree with other people’s opinions.
We can agree to disagree and build the relationship, not take sides and draw a line of good and bad.
And who knows, because I am changing and growing and experiencing life, my opinion may change from what it is today. Or maybe their opinion will change. Most likely, both of our opinions will morph and change in some way.
I need to allow others to be in different spaces and different parts of their journey and realize this means they will have different opinions. And then give them the space to let their opinions change as they journey on.
I need to not take everything so personally. Attacking my opinion is not always attacking me. I am much more than the one or two opinions we are discussing.
I need to keep pride in check and not let it divide my communication with others.
I need to let others have perspectives and opinions different from mine.
I need to realize that two differing opinions are okay. One is not always good and the other always bad.
Think how much more peaceful this world would be if we quit holding our opinions so tightly? How much our relationships would improve?
Shall we try together? We will surely fail, and then try again. But slowly over time our opinion of our opinions will change. Along with our behavior.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.
Join the Discussion: Do you tend to hold your opinions loosely or tightly?