The Good Opinion of Others

On listening to your inner guide.
When faced with a tough decision, I would often find myself seeking out the advice of people close to me because it was natural and safe. Until I realized that safe may not be what I'm looking for.

Recently, I was needing to make a critical decision that would change my business (and life) significantly. It was one of those decisions that caused a persistent queasiness in my gut, but I wasn’t sure if the queasiness was my healthy intuition or my fearful ego.

So I did what I’m sure a lot of us do and I talked about it to everyone close to me — my husband, my mentor, my parents, my business partner. I laid out the options with as much detail as possible, presenting things – I thought – unbiasedly and objectively. They each gave me their opinion about what I should do. And I still felt queasy.

So I talked about it some more.

And they each stuck with their opinion.

And I still felt queasy.

So finally, tired of hearing about it, my husband said to me, ‘I’m not going to tell you what to do. I can’t tell you what to do. Only you know what’s right.’

That’s when I realized… I wasn’t seeking the opinion of the people whose advice mattered to me… my ego was seeking it.

And that’s what was making me queasy.

On paper, their advice seemed level-headed and rational, but my husband was right: no one else can possibly know what feels right to me.

Which reminded me of a quote by Abraham Maslow, “Be independent of the good opinion of others.”

The good opinion of my parents may advocate wanting to protect their little girl. The good opinion of my significant other may be wanting to preserve the status quo of the relationship. The good opinion of my business partner may be wanting to save money. They were all telling me, in their own ways, not to take the risk.

And while each of these opinions were worthy of consideration, I had to ask myself ‘Do these opinions help me get to where I ultimately want to be, or are they a mirror to my own irrational fears?’

The thing is, the good opinion of others – while usually delivered in loving ways – may not always be in the best interest of the self you’re trying to create. They may be attempting to preserve the relationship that already exists. Or worse, based on a fear rooted in that person’s ego.

I realized that the only person to ask when faced with a tough decision is myself. And the only question to ask is,

Does this contribute to the ultimate vision I have for myself and my life, in a healthy, loving way?’

Being independent of the good opinion of others doesn’t mean you’re above asking for advice. It simply means you think critically at the advice you’re receiving and ask yourself, ‘is this right for me?’

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