Many people have very rigid, limited opinions about the ‘’right’’ way to live, what we should want out of life, what we are ‘’supposed’’ to be like and most are very happy to share these thoughts any chance they get. People who differ from these molds are often the target of gossip, judgment and criticism. Assumptions abound about what type of person they are and why they do the things they do and most times, these assumptions are less than flattering.
People are always going to have their opinions, which are informed by a variety of factors. They will be rigid and it is unlikely they will change. They have very fixed ideas about how things are supposed to be. Ideally, people should not assume or they should not judge and just accept people are different and they want different things out of life and have different beliefs. But, this is not how it goes. Talking about others is very second nature and most people cannot resist the urge to weigh in.
When you are on the receiving end of all of this, it can be frustrating and hurtful. Most of us are not so confident that we have absolutely zero emotional reaction to the harsh words and judgments of others. It can be infuriating to know people are making all sorts of untrue assumptions about you.
Often times, we feel the urge to defend ourselves, to try and explain and justify our choices and beliefs. We make it our personal mission to demonstrate how we defy the assumptions associated with our particular life choices or ways of being. We feel we need to make other people understand where we are coming from so they will see us in a better light.
Of the many things I have learned over the years, one of the most important is letting go of the need to do these things. No matter what you do, it is unlikely people will change their opinions or their beliefs, things that are deeply ingrained in them. Everyone is operating with their own filter and their minds are not easily changed. They will just always think certain things to be true, no matter what.
Since we cannot change other people’s perception of us, the only thing we can change is how we react to it. We need to take responsibility for our feelings. Any reaction we have to what others say about us is stemming from within and we need to examine what is going on there and make peace with any inner conflicts we have going on. No one can ever make us feel a certain way. People making assumptions, judging, gossiping and what not are activities that are not going anywhere anytime soon, and the only thing we can do to bring greater peace to our lives is to undergo the sometimes uncomfortable process of examining why these things bother us. Is it because we believe what they are saying may be true? Is it because we have serious doubts about our choices? Admitting these things exist is not some chink in your armor, they are normal reactions we all experience. Facing them will do you a world of good.
If we find ourselves in a situation where we are feeling the urge to defend, justify, dispel an assumption, we have a choice in that moment. We can choose to just keep our mouth shut. No matter who you are or what you are doing with your life, there is probably at least one person taking issue with it in some way, passing judgment on you. Being human, yeah, it will probably bother you sometimes, but your skin will grow thicker over time. That pesky thing called an ego often gets in the way! Learning to accept it and not making it your personal mission to gain acceptance or try to educate people and make them see the light will ease a lot of stress in your life and save precious mental energy.