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  • Writer's pictureTommy

Other People's Words

In our interconnected world, it’s pretty much a given we will have a multitude of interactions with others each and every day. We have co-workers, teammates, spouses, friends, family, and the list goes on. We communicate with a host of people directly and indirectly, through social media, etc., every day. Throughout these sometime brief or sometime lengthy conversations, a lot can be transmitted. When someone says a little or a lot, their body language can communicate even more. The sentiment of the communication in all of these interactions can be positive or facilitative, it can be negative or debilitative, or it can be neutral or entirely unrelatable. In all of this, there is one constant we often overlook or neglect to consider. Other people’s words truly only have the value we willingly choose to give them.

When we share our dreams, desires, and ambitions, other people can tell us things that are helpful, positive, facilitative, or they can just as easily tell us things that are a little more negative. They can be judgmental, they can question what we’re doing, or tell us it will never happen no matter how hard we work. They write us off from the moment we share. In these instances, most of us have a much greater propensity to give the negative things others say to us greater value than the positive. When people tell us ‘great job’, ‘that’ll be a perfect fit’, ‘nice work’, ‘that’s awesome’, or ‘keep that up’, we are oftentimes more inclined to be skeptical. When faced with the counter, we seldom give those positive and assuring words the same value we do as when someone tells us something negative; when someone judges us, or questions us, or points out a flaw or an inconsistency, or anything that is not positive. We tend to give the negative stuff much more value. Why is that? Why do we have this natural inclination to tune out the positive, assuring things people tell us and give the negative stuff more value?

We have a natural inclination toward self-doubt when pursuing our dreams, desires, and ambitions. Our critic is rearing its head and now these outside voices are echoing it, so they have to be right. When we’re chasing down our dreams, desires, and ambitions, and someone tells us something positive, our critic explains that away in telling our self they’re just telling us this because they don’t want to hurt our feelings or make us feel bad. In short, our critic is trying to halt us. But when someone tells us something negative, or questions us, or points out a flaw, and tries to demean what we’re doing, we tend to take that in and loop that into our internal dialogue, our own narrative, and that begins to distract us. It pulls us off message, off topic, and saps the momentum we’re building toward our dreams, desires, and ambitions. When oftentimes, if we begin to peel back those negative comments, we might see that those negative comments, questions, or judgments are more often than not based in that person’s fear. They’re fearful, jealous, and envious of what we’re doing. We are people of action and our ability and willingness to chase what we want in life causes them to question their own internal beliefs and shortcomings; so, they lash out at us in response to their fear, jealousy, and envy. They wish to stunt our growth and keep us where we’re at because we scare them to their core. We don’t mean to, but by being our self and living our truth, we cause them to question their own resistance to pursuing their dreams.

When someone chooses to share their opinion with us and it’s not the most facilitative, supportive, or positive thing they could say, our awareness is what enables us to act. From here, we have the power to take a brief pause, and directly ask our self, “is this something I want to give value to?”, “Is this person intending to help me in what I’m working towards?”, “Or is this comment slightly based in something else?”. We control the value we choose to give the words other people say. It’s when we use our awareness to take that brief pause and reflect on what they have to say, that we can choose to assign the value we want.

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