Whatever Your Opinion, Be Kind
Some people feel the need to rant, or to meet every opinion that contradicts theirs with an argument. I’ve decided I need to let them rant or fume, but save my own sanity, and refrain from adding my opinion to their rant; which often means fuel to their fire. It’s taking me a long time to learn I don’t need to push my opinion on others, and especially when we are on opposite sides of an emotionally charged issue. Neither of us is going to change our view by being shouted at, preached at, or browbeaten, so why engage at all?
Each person has their own wants, needs, beliefs, and desires. They won’t all match yours. Be kind. You can’t possibly know all the reasons someone else believes as they do, any more than they can be privy to yours. I’ve learned through a few hard lessons the best thing to do is disarm your own triggers, and recognize when someone else’s are armed and ready to fire. In most cases, their battle isn’t yours to fight anyway.
Once upon a time, I dove into every fray with cannons ablaze, ready to fight for what I perceived to be the underdog. In at least 95% of the cases, I learned after I’d been bruised and battered myself that I’d been manipulated, and I dove into someone else’s fight with the sketchiest of information. It took several repetitions of the same lesson before I realized it wasn’t my job to fight someone else’s battles, or to succumb to their entreaties and altered perceptions about how they’d been wronged.
Picking My Battles on the Road to Compassion
I have strong opinions of my own about some topics, while others leave me feeling detached, or worse, scratching my head in confusion. Learning to sit back and wait until I see a more complete picture, or, if it’s important enough to me, doing my own research has kept me out of many battles I wasn’t meant to fight in the first place.
Sure, there have been people who attacked me for remaining neutral, mostly because they were of the mistaken opinion everyone should believe as they did, and respond with equal parts outrage and chest pounding. Those who became abusive in the bargain are now history as far as my life is concerned.
As I continue adding years to my stay in this form (for which I continue to be grateful), I become more aware of what really matters. It isn’t joining every battle, or even those of the people I love and respect. The best way for me to show them my love and respect is to be supportive quietly, and to show as much kindness as I can to everyone—especially the ones I disagree with.
Leaving Regrets Behind While Taking the Lessons to Heart
Trust me, I’m no angel, and I’ve been unkind my share of the time. In my 6 1/2 decades, I’ve hurt my share of people, and try to see those episodes as lessons rather than adding them to a list of regrets that will only keep me from doing better next time. Of the many things I’ve jettisoned over the years, my own duffel bag full of regrets is the one I’m happiest to be rid of. It’s a heavy load I could never possibly fix or change, so it’s only purpose was to weigh me down, and slow my forward progress; sometimes bringing it to a standstill until I remembered to drop the heavy stuff.
It’s not that I don’t have people I’d apologize to if I were ever to encounter them again, which is unlikely, but I’ve learned to recognize my own unkind behavior as lessons I needed to go through. Most of all, they’re in the past. They happened. I may have been guilty at the time, but in all likelihood, most of the people I harmed weren’t permanently affected, and have long since forgotten not only the event, but the person involved. Of course, there is one exception, but she not only remembers the times I was unkind, but also some of my better moments I, myself had forgotten.
It’s been decades since I threw a block at a classmate, or said mean things to a fellow middle schooler. In hindsight, I know I was an unhappy child myself who was often verbally berated by both family and peers. I didn’t know how to do anything but pass the unkindness I experienced on to someone else. I certainly didn’t understand the behavior could stop with me. How many children and teenagers do?
Impacting the Ripples You Make
In truth, it took me several decades to finally learn how much power I had to shift the script, and in fact, how much I was responsible for doing exactly that; for my family, for the people I’ve wronged in the past, and for those who will cross my path in the future. I’m even doing it for people I will never connect with in person. In short, I’m changing the ripples I create by my own actions.
As I travel down life’s path, following some existing trails, and forging a lot of new ones, I realize how little kindness there was in my life for about 2/3’s of it. I probably could have changed things sooner, but I had to break free of a lot of the choices I’d made based on my own skewed perceptions. I had to heal some of the damage, but more importantly, learn there were better ways, and especially, better people I needed to allow into my life.
All in all, I think everyone has choices. You can be kind or not, as you see fit, or as your experiences dictate. It isn’t going to change what I believe I need to do, nor how I act upon those beliefs. I may comment on the occasional post when I think someone is being particularly unkind, or thinks shaming is OK, but I also respect the fact that they’re operating from their own set of paradigms. I don’t know what their life is like now, nor what they’ve had to endure, or compensate for up to this point.
Guidance by Affirmation
I live by a lot of adages and affirmations these days:
- I am Enough
- What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business
- There’s Always Something to be Grateful For
To name a few. But the one that really keeps me, and the things I say and do in check is:
- Until I walk in your shoes, it’s not my place to judge what you do or say, and why you do or say it.
I can have an opinion, and in many cases, I do. Shouting you down, trying to change your mind, or making you feel bad about it isn’t my job, and it really isn’t my right either. If I can’t express my opinion with kindness, I’ve finally, after many missteps, learned to keep my mouth shut—most of the time anyway.
Recognizing My Blessings With Gratitude
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned.
- I’m grateful for the healthier habits I’ve been forming, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed since I learned to be kinder, and less hard on myself.
- I’m grateful for choices: we don’t have to stick to the path we fell onto by default, and sometimes we tread that path so we learn what we need to to make significant changes.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, kindness, compassion, lessons, dancing, fur children, acceptance, understanding, peace, balance, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward