It seems sometimes that we shy away from being in conversation or an environment with people that we disagree with.
I’ve previously written that I think it’s worth unfollowing people on social media that you disagree with. The reason for this is that on social media it’s rare that people with differing opinions have a back and forth that benefits either of them.
However, I don’t think we should seek to create a life that is simply an echo chamber of our own thoughts and beliefs.
It’s a great thing to be able to engage with people that have different opinions to you. I think the problem arises when we forget that we have the option to accept someone else’s opinion and understand that they see things differently without having to prove your point or change someone’s mind.
Sometimes simply doing something for yourself is considered inconsiderate or even selfish. The idea of helping others is sometimes pushed so far that people expect you to do it at the expense of yourself.
And of course there are those that are willing to give the shirts off their own back but it should be a choice, not something you’ve been guilted into.
People might call you inconsiderate for choosing to prioritise yourself over them and it might hurt your feelings. It might hurt so much that you decide to keep putting other people first. But the other option is to accept that persons opinion and continue doing what is best for you because you matter too.
Sometimes we stop ourselves from doing the things that we want to do because we put others above ourselves.
We choose to consider how our actions might make someone else feel, as if that is our responsibility. It often results in not doing the things that we want to do.
In the moment, it might feel like the right choice but in the long run it often leads to regret or resentment.
It could be staying in a ‘good job’ when you actually want to pursue something that is held in a much lower regard by the people you know, maybe it pays less too. You’re worried that people will tell you you’re making a mistake, of the looks you’ll get at the family dinner when they ask how work is going, you want to please your parents and you don’t want other people to think that you’ve regressed.
So, you stick with your current job that you’re no longer interested in.
Overtime you grown to resent those people around you because even though they’re happy with where you’re at in life, you’re miserable. It feels like it’s their fault. But, deep down you know that your misery comes from you caring about other peoples opinions more than you care about making yourself happy.
The lesson here is to learn to put yourself first. How you feel about your life and the choices you make matters so much more than what other people think.
One of the mistakes we often make is thinking that there is only one solution to every problem. And so, when the way a person chooses to solve a problem does not match up with what we believe the solution to be we can end up being critical and telling them they are wrong.
In these cases, what we are actually doing is forcing our beliefs, opinions and perceptions onto other people. The reality more often than not is that you and this person perceive things differently, it’s not that anyone is wrong or right.
I think that this is something worth remembering. A lot of people find it so easy to be critical of others and tell them what they should or shouldn’t have done.
But the truth is, it’s simply a matter of perception.
Over the past couple of months I have become more and more aware of all the thoughts and opinions of others that I consume each day.
If you also use social media and regularly consume content such as podcasts or YouTube videos then chances are, you’ve felt it too.
I had began to find that even though podcasts, Twitter and Instagram were a regularly part of my routine, I wasn’t really enjoying them the way I used to.
And this had nothing to do with the people I was following or listening to as their content hadn’t really changed. It was more that I had changed. I decided that, even if it was just a temporary thing, I wanted to honour the fact that at that point in time, I wanted something different.
So, I logged out of my social media accounts and I stopped listening to the podcasts that were once my favourites. That gave me room to explore new things and spend time listening to podcasts that I enjoy rather than simply listening out of habit or familiarity.
Every so often I log out of social media.
I do it to remind myself that I don’t need to use it as much as I think I do.
I do it to free up space in my mind for my own thoughts and opinions.
I do it so that I can spend my free time doing other things that will be more fulfilling.
And when sometime passes and I choose to log back in, I am always reminded that if I’m not mindful I can end up wasting a lot of time and energy.
There are good arguments to support both sides.
On one hand perhaps you should lower your expectations because they’re too high. Examples of this could be expecting to earn £50,000 as a graduate with no experience or expecting a friend to reduce their rates even though you know the quality of their work will be more than worth it.
Then on the other hand, a reason not to lower your expectations is because you don’t want to get into the habit of settling. I think there’s a fine line between knowing what you want and expecting too much. Knowing what you want is great. Believing that it is possible to have more than you have right now even though it might take time is a pretty fantastic thing.
One of the most common reasons that people lower their expectations is because they allow the thoughts and opinions of others to convince them that what they want is unrealistic.
If that is the case, it might be worth being more selective about who you get advice from and who you choose to listen to.
I think most people like receiving praise. Not necessarily in front of a large crowd with the spotlight shining down but to simply be told you did something well is more than enough.
Many people go around thinking they’re subpar and for them praise serves as a reminder that they’re doing okay. It can be difficult to tell yourself that you did a good job, perhaps it feels big headed or self indulgent.
Feedback on the other hand can be difficult to take from others but easy to give to yourself.
It feels good to be told that you did something well but it isn’t always easy to hear what you need to work on from other people.
Afterall, how could this person know what you’ve been through and have they considered that you’re doing your best.
This observation of how we take in praise and feedback is simply a reminder not to cling too much to opinions and perceptions, not even even your own.
Most of us start out with big dreams of what we want to do with our lives. Then slowly, bit by bit, as the years go on we start to settle.
We settle from setbacks that lower our self-belief until you’ve convinced yourself that they were unrealistic anyway.
Other times you have people tell you that your dreams are too big, that they won’t work and that you need to be realistic.
Sometimes you’re aware of it but other times you have no idea until years have gone by and you’re wondering what happened to those dreams you used to have.