Their Opinions, My Thoughts

Goals are good. Simply stated, no real arguments available, goals are good. We must have somewhere to look, something to keep us focused as we move about this life. Not all of these attempts will be successful. Some will result in downright failure. But even failure has its good sides. It is from failure that we learn, teach others, and see how to recalculate our steps. Failure can be good. It hurts, but growth usually does.

Some aims are daily. Some are yearly, weekly, hourly. Whatever it takes. Recently, it has come to my attention that my self image is lacking. Just writing that feels selfish. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. A person’s self image has much to do with how he sees the world, and how he perceives that the world sees him, at least in my opinion. If a person holds the opinion that he is overweight, it can be easy to see himself through the scope of not acceptable because of this flaw. Of course, that indeed depends on how he has been trained to think about weight and body image. People around him can also have an effect on his thoughts. If his friends constantly remind him that he has put on a few pounds and needs to hit the gym, he may not feel that great. If his friends are only supportive and still accepting of him, his self image could be impacted in a wonderful way.

Even in my example though, there is a flaw. Why are other people allowed to determine how we feel about ourselves? Why should his friends’ opinions impact how he feels about his body and his life? Should his friends be allowed to determine his self worth? The obvious answer would be “Of course not”.

I am not one to give advice on perfect anyone’s self image, but I have come to conclusions about myself. All my life other people have been allowed to determine how I feel about myself. When someone doesn’t have time for me at the moment, the automatic thought is that I must not be important enough or worthy of their time. The truth is, they are probably just busy at the moment. That is life. My Grandfather always made fun of my weight and my big feet. To this day, my feet are embarrassing to me. My Grandmother has this way of making me feel as if, no matter what the problem is, I just must not be trying enough or even at all. Dad’s opinions are the most difficult to combat. Years of facial expressions, head shakes, disapproving words, and eye rolls have left me feeling unsure of myself at the least.

He is a great father. He isn’t perfect. No doubt he only does the best he can. I feel like such a disappointment and failure. He is in constant excruciating pain. He goes to work. He goes to church. He hangs out with his friends. He presses on. There are some days I may not make it out of bed. It might be the evening before a shower is managed. I am afraid to leave the house. A normal conversation seems so far out of the question. He is always telling me that I need to try. That breaks my heart. What else can I do to try? If he can live his life with all his pain, can’t I do better with mine?

I try very hard to hide the struggles from my parents. They only understand the tip of what is going on. That is good for them. Being thousands of miles away may be exactly what they need. I can only hide so much though without making myself lie. Yesterday Dad asked me how church was. I told him I didn’t go. He asked me why. I told him I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t fake the smiles and the normalcy. I can’t handle the forced social interaction anymore. Then the emotions stepped behind a shield. Breathing stopped. I waited for his reprimand. He said he understood. When you try something over and over again and it doesn’t work, why keep trying. I can’t tell if he really meant that or not. Either way, I have come to some conclusions. People should not be allowed to determine my self worth anymore. There are several reasons why.

1. People are flawed. As human beings, we are quite imperfect. Our vision isn’t perfect. Our opinions are biased. We often see things as we want to see them instead of how they actually might be. Why should another imperfect human being be allowed to tell me how to feel?

2. People change. My actions may be pleasing today, yet the same actions may be “wrong” tomorrow. Opinions change. People grow. Why should something that is constantly changing be allowed to dictate my self worth?

3. No one on this Earth deserves that kind of power. If they receive that power, it is because it is given. As easily as it is given, it can be taken back. If they don’t like me, they can move on. If I care about their opinions, I can stop.

4. Actions can hurt, but they don’t change me. Another individual may behave in a way or say things that are hurtful. Does that change me? Not even a little. Perhaps I can grow from the pain they have caused, but their disregard and disdain do not make me a different person.

5. Human beings are amazing. Human are beautiful. In all our shapes and sizes, our imperfections and our flaws, our strengths and our weaknesses, we are beautiful. We are unique. We each fill a role that no one else can fill. I am me. You are you. We are very different, and we are worth so much more than anyone can ever take away.

The goal is to no longer allow others to influence how I feel about myself. Will there be success? Absolutely. Will there be failure? Without a doubt. May we realize how amazing we each are,and strive to remember that the only person who can change us is us.


6 thoughts on “Their Opinions, My Thoughts

  1. It sounds like you’re among many of us who weren’t given the tools we needed to develop a healthy sense of self – a sense of ourselves that is independent of what others think of us. As a result, our view of ourselves is dictated by what others think or say – that your feet are too big, or you’re lazy and don’t try hard enough, or you’re a disappointment because you’re “broken”.

    You have a great list there of reasons why we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be defined by others’ opinions of us. That’s a wonderful start – and now it’s a matter of putting some of those things into practice. I’m struggling with that now, too, and I suspect it will be on my list of ongoing struggles for a long, long time. But I’m making progress – little bits of progress – and I’m confident that you will too.

    I would encourage you not to compare yourself to your dad’s struggles, or anyone else’s. It sounds like your dad experiences physical pain on a regular basis, and he plows through it. That is a testament to his strength and determination. But I think you can value and admire what he does – without using it as the yardstick by which you measure how you handle your struggles. I get caught in this trap all the time – that I shouldn’t be complaining because I don’t have something more awful, or someone who has a worse burden is managing so much better, etc. I think the comparisons in situations can be useful sometimes in getting perspective – but I think that’s where the usefulness ends. YOU are struggling with YOUR depression and anxiety, and YOU are doing everything in YOUR power to fight through it. It doesn’t matter what anyone does or doesn’t do – what matters is what you are doing for yourself. And from what I can tell, you are fighting like hell to get through all of this and come out the other side a happy, healthy person. So keep fighting, and know that you are definitely not alone!!


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