I know plenty of people who quickly and mightily defend their opinions on a wide range of issues. The folks I am thinking of might even work hard to convince the other person that their opinion on issues like abortion, the federal budget crisis, global warming and gay rights, just to name a few, is the “right” opinion. And right, of course, means that it’s superior to the other person’s.
Often times the quick and mighty defense of their opinion escalates into a red-faced, clenched-jawed, fist-pumping tirade. For sure, it makes their position on the issue unquestionably clear. And no matter the consequences, they don’t back down. The opinion they hold to be true is so important to them that they simply have to stand up for it. All of the time, but especially when they feel it is being attacked or undermined by a differing opinion.
These folks are interesting to me. It’s not that they will not listen to what others have to say, but they have decided on their position and it is a strong one. Heck, they would buy the t-shirt to support their position if one was available!
As I ponder this phenomenon, a question comes up for me…Why don’t we, with great passion and clarity, defend the opinions we hold about ourselves when someone offers up a differing opinion? Why is it that if someone else offers a less than flattering view of us we back down, shrink down, and even allow the opinion held by the other person to become more important and more powerful than our own view of ourselves?
I think it is a good thing to have strongly held opinions that we are willing to defend and passionately debate. I also think it is a good idea to be open-minded to the opinions of others because, let’s face it, we cannot know everything there is to know! So if someone can share valid and convincing information that opens our eyes and changes our opinion about an issue that’s something we could choose to embrace. That’s learning. That’s good stuff.
But when it comes to the opinion we have of ourselves, I would certainly hope that we would hold onto that opinion strongly enough to require some valid and convincing information be presented before we abandon ourselves. And, if that information is not there, we need to be strong enough to tell ourselves that the other person’s opinion of us is just that…it is somebody else’s opinion…it does not have to become how we see ourselves and it does not have to be given the status of “truer” than the opinion we hold…it is simply somebody else’s opinion.
Glad you’re here. What you do next matters.