The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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My Opinion of Opinions

on May 21, 2012

Opinion: A view, judgement, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter. A belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge. A generally held view.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of these lately.  Not my own really, but those of others. It’s amazing to me the expertise some people have about other people’s lives.  It’s also amazing that some feel they can share their “expertise” without being asked.  I think most of us are guilty of spewing our “generally held views” at one time or another.  There are just some people who do it more than others. I can honestly say I’m getting rather tired of some people’s judgements and appraisals.   I am learning a few things along the way however.

When it comes to asking for opinions most people truly are only looking for people who agree with them.  I’m guilty of this myself. I’d prefer it if people just “amen” me and move along.  I don’t like it when my thinking is challenged. I particularly don’t like it when I didn’t ask someone to challenge it.  Because of this, I have learned to keep my mouth shut unless someone specifically asks for my opinion. Now even when asked for my view of something I usually ask, “Are you sure you want to know what I think.” before I answer.  I’ve even warned people, “I can tell you what I think but I don’t think you are going to like it.” At least that way I have given them a chance to back away before I annoy them. I will still catch myself letting my appraisal of something fly, but I’ve tried to get better about handing out free opinions.

If something is free chances are that it is flawed. There is truth to the saying “You get what you pay for.”  I haven’t asked for most of the opinions I’ve been getting lately,  they have been freely given. While I respect other’s right to have their own view, I am not overly interested in their view of my life unless I’ve asked for it.  I have a very small circle of people whose opinions I seek.  People with whom I have a close relationship: something I have spent time developing (or paid for – with time).  These are the people whose lives I have watched and in whom I trust.  I put value in their views because I respect them. They have proven to me over time that they are wise and have good thoughts to share.  They also usually don’t give me an opinion unless I ask for it.  I don’t always like what they have to say but I listen because of who it is coming from and because I sought it.

Most people who freely hand out their opinions really are trying to help.  They usually aren’t helping,  but that is what they are trying to do.  I appreciate the heart but I don’t usually appreciate the advice. The free opinions generally come from people who don’t know me well. It’s impossible to have positive knowledge about someone else’s life unless you are that person.  That leaves you with a belief stronger than impression. I’ve learned over the years that my impressions aren’t always accurate until I’ve taken the time to get to know a person.  The problem with some people is they think that they know everyone – immediately. They  either honestly think that everyone thinks like they do or they think that they’ve observed enough people that they are “people experts”. I had one person tell me once that I’m an easy read. Really? I’m a book? (I did refrain from asking, “Hmm…what am I thinking right now??”  That would have been too easy to answer.) At any rate, both types of people believe they know what everyone else is thinking.  The thought of a world with all same thinking people kind of scares me, depending on whose thinking we’re talking about. I honestly believe there are black and white issues. A true right and wrong. I don’t believe there are as many of those solid truths as a lot of people think.  I have nothing against personal convictions. I have my own.  I have a problem with people who turn their personal convictions into bats with which to beat people over the head.

That’s where we are living right now.  Lots of people hitting us with their personal convictions, their personal views formed in their minds. I understand that they are just trying to help.  We are in the midst of a very long and sometimes confusing transition in our lives. At issue here is that I don’t believe there is a solid right or wrong answer. There is only the choice between two scenarios and living with the one we choose. While I appreciate that some people think we are choosing the worse scenario, I haven’t really ask for their opinion about it. I haven’t asked them to, at times, try to manipulate us to do what they think would be better for us. I’m the one who has to walk this out. I seek the judgments, views and appraisals of those I trust when I need them and I’ve done that.  Otherwise there is an old saying: “Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one.”  (I know that’s a slightly different version than you may have heard, but I strive to keep my blog rated “G”.)  I’d personally add to that saying:

“Just because everyone has one doesn’t mean that I’d like to see yours.”

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