A lot of people hold their parents’ opinions of life, how things work, and of themselves, as complete facts, without ever questioning them… especially opinions toward the negative.
The reality is that giving birth, co-creating a child, conception, adoption, fostering—whatever you want to call it—does not automatically endow parents with knowledge and wisdom of all things… not even when it comes to their kids.
Parents are human. Parents get stuff wrong. Parents have opinions formulated by their consumption of other people’s opinions. Parents have perspectives skewed by what they’ve seen, heard, experienced, and imagined. Parents don’t automatically hold the keys to all things factual.
If my momma told me, “You’ll never amount to anything,” that’s not a fact. That’s her opinion. She hasn’t been to the future. How does she know? I could make choices that same day that completely shift the trajectory of my life. (My momma never said that to me, by the way, so don’t be calling my momma. I’m just making a point. )
Sometimes it’s not even what they said about us, it could be something that was a rule in their house, or a belief that they preached. I was watching a man in his upper 60s, struggling to finish his meal. It was clear that he was already full, but he was still forcing in those last forkfuls. Being me (always perceptive and occasionally slightly too honest ), I looked at him and said, “You know your momma’s not here? You don’t have to clean your plate. You’re grown.” (Lawd, help me. I was born this way. ) The look of initial surprise on his face, followed by a wave of relief, was priceless. He took a second, scooted his chair back, and went to scrape out that plate. He didn’t want that food. That moment freed him.
So much of what we do, and so much of what we think, has nothing to do with us! It’s from old stuff someone taught us, old standards we were conditioned to abide by, and old beliefs we were exposed to. Periodically, we have to check in with ourselves and ask questions like: “Is that a fact, or an opinion? If it’s an opinion, do I agree with it? Should I live my life based on this? What do I CHOOSE to believe about this?” And then we get to go on with our lives CHOOSING to be guided by aligned beliefs. We get to believe and evaluate things by what works for us.
There are some things we’ve thought or believed our whole lives that hurt or hinder us—things that someone else said or taught us. Consider that maybe what they thought was just their opinion, and not a fact. And if it’s an opinion, we can question it. Maybe you can be successful at that. Maybe you can be the exception to that rule. Maybe doing it your way works out just fine.
Another important thing to realize is that just because you can see evidence to support someone’s opinion, doesn’t automatically make it a fact. It’s possible that if you observe the same thing from a different perspective, or hear of another person’s experience, you’ll be able to formulate a completely opposite opinion. I mean, from the back, an elephant doesn’t even have a trunk….
Let’s begin to question our habits of thought, beliefs, and behaviors that work against us. Let’s recognize that negative opinions are, just that, opinions. We can let them go and CHOOSE to guide our lives by what we prefer to believe.
Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist
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