It took me some time to learn certain things as a newly married person. At that time, my wife would dress up and ask me, “How do I look?” As an inexperienced married man, I would wonder why she needed my sign-off, but it didn’t take too long to understand why.
Maybe that’s the only instance when we should ask for the opinion of others. Not that we aren’t convinced that we’re looking great, but just to get some reassurance of love from our partners. Right?
But many people are in the habit of constantly seeking the opinion of others. They want to know if their decisions and actions are acceptable to others. In the process, they cede away their freedom. They simply live by the opinion and manipulations of other people. Such a mindset can only lead to disappointments and unhappiness. If you get the result you don’t like, you become shamefaced that you have been misled. You regret the fact that your action was not based on your own opinion. You blame yourself and continue to be sad about it.
Why should any adult continue to live this way?
You can only set yourself free by becoming your own judge. Make your decisions, stand by them, and be ready for the consequences – good or bad. That’s the essence of maturity; a sign of manliness (and womanliness).
The other day, GEJ said he didn’t give a damn about criticism. OBJ said something similar. He said he derived pleasure from people’s criticism of him. Could these be declarations of freedom, or attributes of great leaders?
I just found an old book in my library. I bought it as far back as 21 years ago! It is dusty, yellowish and somehow smelly now. But the contents are timeless. The book is titled, “When I say no, I feel guilty” and written by Manuel J. Smith. It was published in 1975! Talk of an old book of wisdom.
This book teaches assertiveness and says that “no one can manipulate your emotions or behavior if you don’t allow it to happen.” It goes further to list out what it describes as Bill of Assertive Rights; which outlines the basics of healthy, non-manipulative relationships in business and at home. Here they are:
- “You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.”
- “You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior.”
- “You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.”
- “You have the right to change your mind.”
- “You have the right to make mistakes – and be responsible for them.”
- “You have the right to say, ‘I don’t know’.”
- “You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them.”
- “You have the right to be illogical in making decisions.”
- “You have the right to say, ‘I don’t understand’.”
- “You have the right to say, ‘I don’t care’.”
I don’t need to add anything to the above. It is your life, and you only live it once. Wouldn’t you rather take control and live your life for yourself as against subjecting yourself to a limitless variety of manipulations by others?
Your life is in your hand. Take charge.