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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

The Jeopardy of Taking Others’ Opinions Seriously

The Jeopardy of Taking Others’ Opinions Seriously

When I was younger, I spent a lot of my life caring what other people thought of me. Honestly, it was just a bunch of stress that I never needed.

It started during my childhood. My parents always had high expectations for me. I always had to be what their idea of a well-behaved girl should be; disciplined and reserved, having perfect grades and daily habits. It was my responsibility to be the perfect role-model for my sister. Everything that she should strive to be.

Even without my parents there, I became very aware of everything I did and said, always careful to do whatever was expected of me. My parent’s strict ethic unconsciously filtered into my everyday life. I started to care greatly about what everyone else thought about me. I was constantly trying to fulfill the image of who everyone else thought I should be, and it started stressing me out.

I didn’t know how to manage to stay true to myself while still making everyone else happy. It wasn’t until I grew older and discovered my true passion that I realized how powerful my own voice could be.

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Shut down the Voice of the Peanut Gallery

People give their opinions all of the time. They just can’t help it. We all want to be heard. But unfortunately, some of these opinions might be directed at you.

Whether they are positive or negative, these opinions are based on their own judgments and biases. Because their opinions are biased and reflect their own self interest; what they have to say isn’t always the best thing for you. After all, if you judge a fish on its ability to fly, it will always have a miserable life.

They don’t know your situation and they don’t have to live your life, so it’s nothing to worry about.

Besides, words hold a different meaning to everyone.

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Language is nuanced, complex, and not at all universal. Everyone has different values placed on different words. What one person may find offensive, could be a compliment to a completely different person. You will never know what anyone’s true motive is behind what they are saying, so it’s better just not to worry about it.

Trying to fill their expectation isn’t worth it, especially if you’re not sure what they want from you.

When You Silence Your Voice, You Break Your Own Heart

If you present yourself as what you think people will like, you’re becoming a shell of yourself. Those who you are so eager to impress will never know what you are truly like or how you really feel. You’re doomed to always keep up appearances or else you risk revealing yourself as a phony.

Your true needs will never be satisfied and you’ll always feel empty. No one will ever like you for you.

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We’re all adults. Everyone is responsible for themselves and their own happiness. At the end of the day, you’re the only one who has to live with yourself. You’re the only one who experiences your emotions, you’re the only one who faces your battles. Most people are just passing through your life, and they truly have no effect on your well being or future. Stop concerning yourself with pleasing them.

The only person’s expectations that you need to meet are your own. All you need to be happy is to live your life on your own terms. If this makes anyone uncomfortable, they can see themselves out.

Making Your Voice Heard

Don’t let anyone dictate how you think or feel. Be confident in your values and make your voice heard. When you value what other people think of you over your own opinions, you’re giving them the power to dictate your level of self esteem . Build up your own self-esteem by focusing on your strengths and being proud of them. Here’s an article about building leveling up self esteem: How to Build Confidence From Scratch

When you let other’s opinions overpower your own, you are letting them bury your potential. Everyone is born differently and you’re allowed to think differently than others regardless of how much you might respect them. The differences that you possess is what gives you the potential that others don’t have. If you try to ditch your differences to impress others, you’re denying your true self.

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Let’s say you’ve just started a new job and you don’t really know anyone. You’ve noticed that all of your coworkers are very into Electric Dance Music, which you can’t actually stand, but you pretend to like it so that you can go out with them. Maybe you made some new friends, but they don’t know you for who you truly are. You’re making yourself miserable by listening to terrible music, and suppressing your true nature.

I made my voice heard by creating a blog to write about my ideas. I try to focus on gathering more perspectives to expand my horizons. I let others’ ideas influence me, but they don’t control my train of thought. My voice is still my own.

Create Growth Opportunities Out of Any Voice

Have a clear understanding of what people think of you and what you think of yourself. Take the time to consider other people’s opinions to see if they hold any water, but don’t weigh them with too much importance.

If those thoughts are possibly beneficial to your growth, they definitely deserve some consideration. Some opinions are given with good intentions to help you grow; but if those opinions are clearly based off of pure emotion and bias, just forget it. You don’t need that kind of unprecedented negativity in your life.

My parents always gave it to me straight. They wanted me to be a good role model for my younger sister and for her to follow all of my “good” behaviors. They always had good intentions and I respect their direction, but in the end I have to live my own life. Instead of doing everything that they expect of me, I choose to embrace what I value to live a happy and fulfilling life.

And that’s good enough for me.

More by this author

Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the Content Strategist of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Published on February 22, 2021

How To Focus on the Good Things In Life (When Times Are Tough)

How To Focus on the Good Things In Life (When Times Are Tough)

Scott Peck’s first sentence in his book, The Road Less Traveled, is, “Life is difficult.” He then goes on to say that if you accept this, you are going to be okay. There is a lot of adversity in life, and none of us are exempt. That’s why we need to focus on the good things in life for us to move forward.

Here are 4 ways you can focus on the good things in life, especially during tough times.

1. “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do”

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

The above quote is the title of Dr. Robert Schuller’s outstanding book. The title tells you all you need to know about the book.

We have been through a tough 2020, and 2021 could very well be just as tough. The hope is that vaccines and proper protocols will get us through these difficult times. Americans in the 20th century suffered through two World Wars and the devastating Great Depression. To get through these times, they had to be tough—and they were. Now, it is our turn to show our toughness.

I can think of three examples where people showed their toughness in recent years.

The first has to do with the Catholic Church and the awful pedophilia scandal. I believe it was one of the worst times in the history of the Church. What happened to the children was unconscionable. Another side of the issue was the clergy who were falsely accused. Two of them in the Chicago area knew they were innocent and showed their toughness in different ways.

The first got through it with prayer—praying especially for his accuser. Prayer can be a great way to get through tough times. The second was able to retain his optimism. He said he kept repeating a sentence from John and Bobby Kennedy’s mother, Rose: “After the storm, the birds always sing.”

Both men were exonerated after a most difficult and humiliating time. Their accusers ultimately admitted they had lied.

Another way of getting through times is by calling on the best of people. Winston Churchill, during the worst bombing of London in World War II, told the British people, “Never, never give in!” The British people did just that.

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Another way of getting through times is through determination and work. We were looking to build a gymnasium at Providence High School when I worked there. We drafted a paper giving the rationale as to why we needed the gym and presented it to people of means in our community.

The vote was 16-0 that we should not try to build during such tough economic times. Providence has a gym today because of the work ethic and the determination of one man—Father (then Bishop) Roger Kaffer.

Finally, teams go through tough times in athletics. We started one season 3-6. We decided to go back to the fundamentals. We finished 9-2 and played for the conference championship because we returned to the fundamentals. All organizations can return to their core values during tough times.

Prayer, optimism, calling on our best selves, determination, work, and our core values can get us through tough times.

2. Keep a Good Thought

“Keep a good thought” is an Irish maxim encouraging people to stay positive. We can find the good through tough times by our thinking.

Dale Carnegie wrote, “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy. It’s what you think about.”

I enjoyed the basketball coach who had an interesting take on thinking. He asked the referee if he could give him a technical foul for what he was thinking. The ref said of course not; the coach then responded, “I think you stink!”

Willie Nelson, in one of his many songs, stressed to be careful of negative thinking. Paraphrasing, the refrain was, “Think of the good times because the bad times weigh like lead on your mind.”

Our students at the University of St. Francis would annually go to Bolivia to help the people build and repair homes. When I asked them what they learned from the trip, they said two things—they could not believe the poverty the people lived in nor could they believe the positive attitude with which the people lived. Their kindness, humor, and compassion were incredible. Somehow, they consistently kept a good thought, despite their tough circumstances.

Mother Teresa summed up keeping a good thought when she wrote, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

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You can focus on the good things in life when you are determined to “Keep a Good Thought” through hardships.

3. Be in the Moment

We focus on the good things when we are happy. Roy T. Bennett wrote, “If you want to be happy do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”

Two emotions that can deprive us of our happiness are guilt and worry. Jeffrey Nevid called them the “useless emotions.”

Guilt refers to the past. We can elect to carry guilt for something we did in the past. That is our prerogative, but the bottom line is we cannot change it. It’s over! What we can do, however, is learn from it, then move on. Learning from it is the easy part; moving on, the only realistic thing to do, admittedly is the hard part.

Mark Twain had a great insight into guilt’s partner, worry, when he wrote, “I have lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which happened.”

Too often, we worry about things that never materialize. If guilt and worry are tied to our past and future and if they are “useless emotions,” then the only alternative is to live in the present.

In my first 25 years of coaching basketball at the University of St. Francis, we had no bus to take us to road games. We, the coaches, drove the vans. There were 21 NAIA teams in Illinois and only 6 made the playoffs. We finally had the chance to be one of the 6 but we had to win one more game. The team we played was about 5 hours away. We were down 12 with 4 minutes to go in the game. We rallied to make 2 free throws with 2 seconds left to go and we were up by 1 point.

They inbounded the ball to our free-throw line, some 79 feet away from their basket. Their player threw a “Hail Mary” ball toward their basket—it went right in and knocked us out of the playoffs! I had the option of dwelling on that incredulous ending and living in the past or living in the present and driving our players back to campus safely! Fortunately, we made it home.

We can focus on the good by making ourselves happy. Many people have validated that we can make ourselves happy.

Aristotle kept it simple, “Happiness depends on ourselves.”

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The Dalai Lama wrote, “Happiness is not something that is readymade. It comes from your own actions.”

The actress Aubrey Hepburn had this insight, “The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.”

Mahatma Gandhi saw it this way, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

When we will ourselves into a state of happiness by staying in the present moment, we can focus on the good things in life.

4. Help Others

Mark Twain wrote, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up.”

A former high school classmate, Pat Warren, was constantly cheering up our friends when they were experiencing tough times. I would hear about the person suffering and tell myself I must get to see him. Inevitably, by the time I finally got to see him, Pat had already been there. He constantly focused on the good things he could do for others, especially during their difficult times.

Joe Madden, the former Chicago Cubs manager, used to tell his players, “Don’t ever let the pressure exceed the pleasure.” I saw one of his players execute the pleasure.

One of my grandchildren was playing in a Little League game on Chicago’s north side. He was playing on one field and there was another game on an adjacent field. When I looked to the other field, the game had stopped and all the players and fans had surrounded someone.

Ben Zobrist lived near the park where the kids were playing. He had been the Most Valuable Player of the previous year’s World Series. So, there was a lot of pressure on him to perform well this next year, but he did not let the pressure exceed his giving pleasure.

The Cubs had a game that day and he lived close enough to Wrigley Field, their home park, so he would often ride his bike to games in his uniform. However, before riding to his game this day, he rode over to the park where we were.

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The players and the adults were excited to see and meet the 2016 World Series MVP. He stayed in the park until he signed every autograph for every person on both fields! It was an act of random kindness as he gave the kids great pleasure. He focused on the good despite the pressure he was about to face in his game.

Numerous pundits have great insights into the many facets of helping others.

Catherine Pulsifer said, “People appreciate and never forget that helping hand, especially when times are tough.”

Martin Luther King wrote, ”Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.”

Charles Dickens spoke about the two kinds of people who help. “There were two kinds of charitable people: one, the people who did little and made a great deal of noise; the other the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.”

Finally, Jim Rohn wrote about the relationship between giving and receiving, “Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.”

Helping others, especially during tough times, enables you to focus on the good things in life.

Final Thoughts

We can focus on the good things in life during difficult times in four ways:

  • By being tough and not fearing the tough times
  • By keeping a good thought
  • By staying in the moment
  • By being there for others

Remember that tough times are inevitable, but they will also inevitably end. The key is to focus on the good, and you’ll get there eventually.

More Tips on How to Focus on the Good

Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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