Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Other People's Opinions, Ch 2.

Mr. Sponsorpants has  posted  on this topic today, and for me, this is always an excellent subject to revisit. I've become much more able to withstand other people's opinions, but there are some instances in which they will make me stumble. If I'm in HALT, or sick, or emotionally fragile, I may be caught up in the net of what someone else decides I should be doing.

Twice yesterday, in conversation, the person was advocating that "I take something" for this flu. I haven't taken something for a cold or the flu in many years, not since I discovered that I am allergic to most of the binders, artificial flavourings and colours, and preservatives commonly used in prepared foods and what my grandpa used to call "drugstore potions." They affect me in various unpleasant ways.

Some folks, when I say, "I have too many allergies, I don't take those things." will hear me, and stop advising me to use them. Others will barrel right on over me, telling me about how they find this stuff helps them to sleep/eat/breathe/feel better, and I'd recover much faster if I'd just take their advice.

A friend who was present during the second of these pressuring conversations, stood grinning at me as I attempted to politely withstand increasingly strong urging to rush over to the drugstore and buy this wonderful stuff which would cure me in a nanosecond, then turning to the person doing all the pressuring, asked, "Geez, Wilma, you own stock in the company, or what? Sales down, are they? Lost some points on the stock exchange?"

This, said with great affection, made Wilma stop talking, think for a moment, and start to laugh. She put her arm around my shoulders, and said, "Now you just go home and ignore everything I just said." 

"That," I said dryly, "is advice I will take."

She fluttered her eyelashes at me, and made a face. We had a few moments conversation about how the desire to control manifests itself in so many sneaky ways - Wilma has kids, grandkids and greatgrandkids, she's been mothering for a very long time, and she can slip into that mode without realising it. She was laughing over the way that resistance, whether in the form of refusal to follow her suggestions, or lack of enthusiasm, can cause her to ramp up her efforts to convince.

I've learned that when I get a certain rising feeling of irritation, because the other person isn't listening, or agreeing, that's my cue to back off, and be quiet. Let go. Say it once, and then stop. (Very difficult for those of us who love to talk.)
I don't have to be right. It's not my place to tell someone else how to behave, whether they are dealing with alcoholism, or the flu. I can offer what works for me, but I don't have the right to force my opinions on anyone. When I say it once, and then stop, I am respecting their boundaries, and their ability to live their lives as they see fit. I pray to be aware of this, and to practise it in all my affairs.

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