Words mean nothing? If only it were that easy to ignore the comments of others! Especially when I haven’t been confident with my abilities or even my sense of self, even subtly critical statements would dig deep. Now it’s not so much that I don’t care, it’s just I really take a critical look at the sender. Do I know this person? Do I trust this person’s judgement in this area? If not, trash it!
Let’s use our stock psychology character, Mr. A, for this example.
Let’s say Mr. A has an issue where he has trouble approaching other people. If the other person starts talking, or once he’s gotten to know the person, he can talk comfortably. The problem is that he seems aloof, so no one talks to him. In this example, he has four friends, all of whom have noticed this issue that, if he addressed, could lead to a more fulfilled life.
- What if the meek Mr. B were to imply tactics to approach new people?
- What if the neutral Mr. C were to observe these issues but choose not to help?
- What if the mad Mr. D were to directly address the traits that Mr. A could improve upon?
- What if the mysterious Mr. E were just to accept Mr. A for all of his faults?
Which approach is best?
What I’ll do is approach as many people as I can about a potential issue. If a handful of my closest friends agree that there’s a problem I need to address, then I consider each data point like a radar, and I’ll move toward the center of that radar. If my friends analogous to Mr. B and Mr. D were the biggest data points, I’d consider a combination of their opinions.
How about, to continue the analogy, if Mr. A were to hear from a Mr. F?
Who’s Mr. F? In this example, he’s no friend of Mr. A’s. Maybe he’s some stranger he met on the street or a random commenter. Though his opinion could lead to some insight, it should not hold weight for Mr. A. He might ask his friends in a roundabout or even direct way about Mr. F’s comment, otherwise, ideally he shouldn’t even consider it emotionally.
In this same way, we shouldn’t let any thoughts really bother us too much.
They may cut us because we place too much trust in the source. Is this person trustworthy to begin with? Mr. A should trust his friends and their opinions should mean more than strangers. However, he should look internally, and consider that his own opinions of himself matter more than any external source.
What if he doesn’t really want to approach new people?
What if he’s comfortable with his current friends group?
What if he feels too awkward to approach people?
What if he’s more interested in doing other things in life?
If any of those are the case, he has nothing to improve upon, and should be happy.