It’s bad enough to have strangers evaluate, comment, critique, and even criticize you. But when it is friends and loved ones, that can really sting.
If, like me, your friends are often snarky, punny, and sarcastic, most jibes and barbs are not in any way meant to be mean or malicious, per se. However, that doesn’t mean that they do not still make an impact.
Words matter. What you say about other people is going to create thoughts and feelings within them and within you. When people say things to you, they also make an impact, which can be completely neutral, good, or bad.
When you work on being more mindful about your thoughts and feelings towards yourself, it is equally important to keep the same vigilance on thoughts and feelings about other people. You may be surprised how often the way you feel about another is something of a mirror reflection of how you feel about yourself.
I have a friend who thinks they’re funny. This friend will throw out barbs and puns in much the same way I do…except they’re often oblivious of the impact of their words. They also tend to be incapable of reading their audience, and as such tend to put their foot in their mouth a lot.
I think I’m funny. I will throw out barbs and puns…but I am also an empath. As such, I think I better read my audience, and as such temper certain jibes and other meant-as-fun comments that may be inappropriate.
Even being sarcastic and snarky, words matter. Further, just because you say something in jest doesn’t mean you don’t at least partially mean it in all seriousness.
Opinions are like assholes
Many opinions, like assholes, thoroughly stink. Everybody has one, but some people know better than to expel them in public.
There are many times when something we encounter, an opinion we do not agree with or that hits us hard, is more reflective in nature than we would like. Why? Because it’s possible we partially agree with this opinion or fear that we do.
When the opinion is about someone else, this can also generate guilt, because the emotion it elicits feels a bit narcissistic. For example — any of these statements made about another, which you at least partially agree with, could evoke a feeling about yourself: So-and-so is such a know-it-all! That guy has no clue about the effect of what he does. She clearly takes no care of herself.
Why does this happen? Because you don’t want to be a know-it-all, clueless, or to appear to not take care of yourself. When you agree with a negative opinion about another, it reflects back to you thoughts you may have, or worry about having, about yourself.
This is not narcissistic, because it is a part of human nature. Like it or not, YOU are the center of your own reality. This is because you are the only one inside your head, thinking and feeling as you do. How you perceive the world around you is entirely unique to you. As such, everything you experience becomes about you in some way or other…but not necessarily in an egotistical way. Well, not unless you become egotistical, which can happen.
So when an opinion is about YOU on the part of another, if it is negative or mean-spirited and you agree with it even a little bit, it can hit hard. What you do with it is entirely up to you.
Mindfulness affects your reactions
Opinions about you can come in three very distinct ways.
· Direct — You are told the opinion, to your face.
· Secondary — You are told the opinion some gave by the person other than you who received it.
· Tertiary — You learn of the opinion that someone has online, in a random conversation, through someone sending an anonymous message, or some other, totally indirect means.
All of these can impact how you think and feel. As a human being, even if you are largely unemotional, the thoughts this can evoke will stir you in some way.
Dealing with direct and tertiary opinions are often easiest because the former can be readily addressed, while the latter is easier to dismiss. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t have an equal impact on you.
Secondary opinions are harder. In part because getting the opinion of another second-hand can be extra hurtful. They think what about me? or Why won’t they talk to me about this? and the like can feel fairly unpleasant.
This is why mindfulness matters. When you are more aware of what you are thinking and how and what you are feeling overall, you become more capable of redirecting your reaction to outside stimuli. Mindfulness lets you take in the opinion of another, think about it, feel it out, then either release it or, if the opinion rings true, determine what you can do to change it.
That is what is most important. If the opinion of another aligns with your opinion of yourself, and it is not something you like about yourself, mindfulness helps you determine how you can change it. Being mindful opens you up to better know yourself, which in turn lets you make informed decisions and changes.
Being mindful of your opinions
Finally, given how the opinions of others can impact you, it’s important to be mindful of the opinions you hold about others.
Sometimes, we inadvertently have opinions about other people that are, again, reflections of our own self-opinion. This can be particularly insidious if you have issues with self-worth, self-esteem, and other matters about what you deserve in your life.
Being mindful of what you think and feel about other people can provide unrecognized insight into how you think and feel about yourself. When you become aware of this, you gain the ability to better influence and control it, and from there change it as necessary.
This takes work, it takes patience and practice, but it is a totally worthwhile action. Mindfulness can soften the blow of another’s opinion, and help you to make changes if warranted. This applies to both giving and receiving opinions.
You deserve to hold a positive opinion of yourself.