Do the opinions of others about you take priority over your opinions of yourself? Should they? Even if they don’t, how do the opinions of others affect how you think of yourself? What other things can impact your opinions of yourself? Navigating self-perception is hard but understanding how this system works for you can help you to avoid mistakes on your part, or even attacks on it from those around you.
How do the opinions of others affect our opinions of ourselves?
To answer our questions a little out of order, the way that other people think about us absolutely affect how we think of ourselves. And that can be a good thing. Just like even the best writers have someone else read over their work, we can all learn from how others see us. We can even use this information to grow and change our behavior.
An important lesson on life and on writing is to not only focus on the negatives. Too many people focus on a few negative comments and look past the overwhelmingly positive people in their lives.
Do the opinions of others about you take priority over your opinions of yourself?
Now, do the opinions of others about you take priority over your opinions of yourself? This is a complicated question because, as discussed above, the opinions of others affect our opinions of ourselves. The opinions of others affect our opinions of ourselves, but we should also have opinions of ourselves separate from the opinions of others. If you can go from a good mood to a bad mood based on someone else’s commentary, other people’s opinions are taking priority and that’s not good.
Should the opinions of others affect our opinions of ourselves?
The opinions of others can and should affect how we think of ourselves but that doesn’t mean that they should be more important than our opinions of ourselves. For one thing, other’s opinions of us are based on incomplete observation.
Just as our opinions of ourselves can be unreliable when not tempered by the opinions of others, no one knows you well enough to give a complete and accurate take on who you are as a person.
What else should factor in?
So, if our opinions of ourselves shouldn’t be based solely on the opinions of others, what else should factor in? For one thing, you understand your reasons and reasoning while other people only see your actions, and the results of those actions. An entire school of philosophy, called “Consequentialism,” holds that the results of our actions are the most important element in judging them making decisions that didn’t pan out morally wrong.
Another system, called “non-consequentialism,” holds that other elements, including intention, should also factor in. This makes judging decisions a bit more nuanced. In addition to our own understand of our actions and decisions, we have a more complete understanding of our own lives. If you think about it, nobody is with us all of the time, the same people are with us in the same circumstances. The person who judges you at home only sees you at home. The person who judges you at work only sees you at work. No one except for you knows how you act in all of the situations in which you find yourself. No one else understands all of your different strengths. This means that you are the only person qualified to accurately judge your own character.
Other people’s opinions of us are one of the most readily accessible influencers of our self-perception, often because others are so willing to share their opinions of us. However, these opinions are often carelessly made judgement calls based on incomplete information. Having an opinion of yourself based on more than just the opinions of others can help you to develop a more complete and accurate understanding of your complicated and unique place in the world.