Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.
– Les Brown, American motivational speaker
Let’s do a little self-test. Think of all the people about whom you have strong opinions. Take a moment, I’m not going anywhere.
If you thought both of people about whom you have strong positive feelings and those you think negatively about, you are likely within the normal range if you had more people on your negative list than on the positive.
Part of our nature causes us to pick out the negative behaviour of someone and form opinions about them–especially strong opinions–rather than to look for positives for that person. It’s related to what social scientists call the natural pecking order. Naturally, we want to feel superior to some other people.
If we can feel superior to others who appear to have more fame, more wealth, more charisma, more friends than ourselves, we have an inner and secret feeling of accomplishment or of superiority. Nature did that. All social animals, despite how cooperatively they may work together or how much they love each other, have a hierarchical pecking order.
You would likely have an answer if someone asked you who was the boss in your parents’ family, whose word was the final ruling on an issue of debate. And you would likely know who you could and couldn’t boss around of your siblings when you were all kids. That’s the pecking order.
We want to feel that we are as far up in that hierarchy as we possibly can be. That means that we may recognize the negatives about others who we perceive to be higher in the order than we are so that we can feel better about ourselves. We identify them by their negatives, their weaknesses, their faults, their sins.
For many people, when they hear the name of former US President Bill Clinton, the first thing they think of is his sexual exploitations. The fact that he did more good to heal and to promote the good name of his country than any other US president in the past half century means nothing to them. He sinned and that’s good enough for those people to label him.
Do you think that if one or more of these people were to express to Bill Clinton their opinions about his personal life (while ignoring his professional accomplishments) that would alter how Mr. Clinton thinks of himself? Not likely. He would not allow their opinions to become his reality.
Was Bill Clinton guilty of misbehaviour during his terms of office? Given the amount of lying that has been perpetrated on the American people over the past eight years and considering the fact that the same people castigated and attempted to removed Bill Clinton from office, we must consider the possibility that the former president was tried by the court of public opinion more than by a valid court..
Small misdemeanors may have been blown out of proportion to make him seem to be a big sinner by those we know as liars today. Yet Mr. Clinton’s self esteem hasn’t bowed. And Mrs. Clinton–whom no one considers a fool–didn’t leave her husband. Likely she knew more than the many Clinton-hating conclusion-jumpers. His kids still love him.
Should my opinion of you affect how you live your life and whether you enjoy life or not? You may say no, because you don’t know me personally. But you know many other people personally and what they think of you may affect your comfort level. Why?
Many people will have false or mistaken impressions about you in your lifetime. That doesn’t mean that you should act the part or play the role of the guilty party.
Don’t allow yourself to pay for the sins of others who think badly of you. They want you to be lower in their hierarchy.
Consider this: By their speaking negatively about you, they acknowledge that you hold a higher position in their social hierarchy than they do. Their insults should be interpreted as your compliment, only the speaker doesn’t know how to use the right words.
Nobody spends much time thinking bad thoughts about those lower on the social hierarchy than they are. Nature doesn’t work that way. We tend to focus more on those we believe are better than us in some ways.
If some nitwit bad-mouths you, it’s nature’s way of complimenting you. Don’t take it personally. Remember, you don’t want to give much time to people who are below you on their own social scale.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow healthy and competent adults from the children in their charge.
Learn more at http://billallin.com