Of all the things I learnt at university, one thing stuck with me the most… Think critically.
Everyday people share their thoughts, opinions, ideas and ‘facts’. Sometimes with the intent to persuade, sometimes to inform, or sometimes simply to just share.
Opinions in particular can be powerful little beasts. Regardless of whether the opinion is positive or not and regardless of whether the intent of sharing the opinion is to persuade or not, they are still extremely persuasive. They can cause doubt and confusion in our own thoughts and beliefs about something especially if it is something personal to us, and this is okay. But we must think critically about the opinion before we decide that what has been said, is.
The way we all see and perceive things are different. The story we have in our heads can be completely different to the story someone else perceives, even when following a similar pathway. Someone’s weight loss journey could lead to an abundance of happiness and new opportunities, while someone on the identical journey with the same results may experience nothing the same because of our own stories and perceptions. It is probably one of the most interesting things about us humans.
So how much weight should we put into another’s opinion?
I think ALL opinions should be considered with a radically open mind. The more thoughts and ideas available, the better chance you have of making the best possible or most correct decision. But keep in mind that A LOT of opinions will be useless and irrelevant, if not detrimental to your goals if you put too much weight on them. So be critical.
All of my articles over the past 6 months could be read as valuable mind opening and thought provoking material to one person, but absolute waffle to another. And that is completely true as I see the handful of weekly unsubscribes in my data. And that is okay, because I like what I am writing and I enjoy the process. I value the quality follow up conversations I get to have each week with my members, friends and my dad about the articles I write. If I were to let the unsubscribe’s (opinions) affect my perception of what I am doing ahead of the new subscribes, valuable conversation and large amount of positive feedback, what would happen to my articles and those that enjoy reading them? Should I give up because some people are unsubscribing?
When I posted a question on my Instagram story last month as to whether I should turn these articles into an ebook, 2 people I know well and have been close to for years voted NO.
Did it surprise me? Yeah for sure!
Did it hurt? Of course.
Should it stop me when 20 others said YES? Of course not!
But don’t situations like this like to play on your mind? Those 1 or so voices that seem to mask the positive ones? Just like haters on social media… 50,000 likes, 2,000 comments of love, but 100 comments of hate. Who should you listen to?
I find commonly that two major things cause us the most doubt in our current ideas and values:
- Things that we are already a little insecure about. Eg. Our weight, the shape of our boobs, our ears, our confidence in a new venture, overcoming something that for some time had been a delicate issue, which now has a sense of pride attached, but is still vulnerable to being devalued.
- The closeness of the relationship with the person sharing their opinion. Eg. Your mum, partner, best mate.
1/ When you are trying to get yourself a little healthier and leaner, you are peaking with insecurity and vulnerability. Every opinion that flys around, especially negative ones, can stick.
You need to go high fat.
You need to do intermittent fasting or else it won’t happen.
You need HIIT.
Have you tried this new skinny coffee?
Don’t do CrossFit.
You need to run more, it’s the only way to burn fat.
You’ve still got at least another 8kg to lose.
Your boobs are going to shrink.
I haven’t noticed any changes yet.
You can’t have milk in your coffee. Have bulletproof coffee instead. (Face palm)
If you were to take all or even half of these opinions onboard a few things would most likely happen:
- Mass confusion
- Increased fear that this venture is going to be way harder than you first thought
- Trying every opinion but not for long enough
- Zero confidence in yourself and your ability to achieve your goal
- Giving up
Without thinking critically about these opinions, keeping an open mind and seeking your own information to make the best possible decision for you, you’re opening yourself up to A LOT of mentally challenging obstacles.
And the opinions don’t end there…
Even if you did manage to navigate your way through the noise and achieved some great health and lifestyle success, there is still the high potential that somebody on a similar pathway who also achieved some great success has perceived the entire experience differently to you, maybe more negatively despite their success. If they share their opinion that their success wasn’t so great, do you then question your own success?
Remember that your story, even if on a similar pathway to others, can be so completely different in each other’s minds. If that person is devaluing their own achievements, take it onboard with an open mind, but think critically. Your success is your success. You success means a lot to you, it doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone else. Their inability to acknowledge their own success is their problem, not yours.
2/ Of course the opinions expressed by those closest to us will always have a far greater impact on you, the decisions you make and the way you feel. Nothing hurts more than when your mum or your partner doesn’t acknowledge the positive changes you are making to your life, or when they express a negative opinion about an achievement you are so proud of. Because we all seek acknowledgment and acceptance from them, we love them, they are OUR person.
Here’s a few things to remember when your loved one doesn’t give you what you were hoping for…
- They aren’t you. They may love you, want the best for you, have good intentions (or not) or not realise they’re impacting you so definitively. So you just simply cannot define all of your success based off them. Your success is your success. Do it to please yourself and those that are naturally pleased by it. If it is forced it is not worth it.
- Sometimes they’re too close. We get clouded perceptions of things when we don’t often remove ourselves from our comfortable surroundings. Sometimes it is hard to see change. It can all seem to be what it has always been or been for a long time. Like they commonly say with weight loss change… ‘other people will notice first, then your friends, then your closest family, then you. So be patient.’
- Sometimes they’re just jerks. Unfortunately some of our loved ones have gotten so comfortable that they feel it is okay to be rude, opinionated, entitled, bossy, manipulative arseholes. You should probably confront them about how they are making you feel, because it won’t change otherwise. And yes, it is going to be one of the worst and most uncomfortable conversations you will ever have. But it’ll be worth it.
So as much as you love and value the thoughts and opinions and desperately seek acceptance from your nearest and dearest, also think critically of what they have to say. Because if it doesn’t serve you and your goals positively. If all of the other sources of information you have sought out to help you make a well informed decision speak otherwise. If they aren’t the most reputable source of relevant information in relation to your goal or issue… Throw them out with all the other useless opinions, because that is all they are.
“Opinions are like arseholes, everybody’s got one.” – Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry)