How Much Belongs to Me? (The Purity of Self-Opinion)

For the most part, I think of myself as a decent person. I have my flaws like anyone else: I’m not always thoughtful/considerate and, as a partner in a relationship, I may not always be the most “romantic.” However, overall I think people could do a lot worse than having me as a friend or lover.

Or do I?

Lately it has dawned on me that it isn’t really clear how much of my self-opinion really belongs to ME, as opposed to how much of it is me taking to heart what others think of me. As an example of this, just look back at my blog called “The Gorier, the Better.” (For those of you who missed it: This is a prime example of what I mean. I didn’t start out thinking I was weird for liking horror movies; this opinion was THRUST UPON ME.

The same could be said for my so-called romantic shortcomings. When I got my first girlfriend, I didn’t think, “Poor girl. She’s dating a guy with no sense of romance.” This was something that developed after I started dating. However, I think this scenario presents us with a unique situation: maybe I was a “bad boyfriend” because I didn’t fit THEIR romantic needs. That doesn’t mean I will be a bad partner to anyone.

In my life there has been no shortage of input that could affect my self-opinion. The most common statement is, “You think too much.” I’m not even sure what that means, although in this superficial, fast-paced world where people hardly ever take a moment to think about ANYTHING, I can see how they can be led to believe I think “too much.”

A second criticism is that, once I break out of my shy mold, I talk too much. Ironic, isn’t it? For years I’ve been told I shouldn’t so shy. Now I’m not, and I get told to shut up! Recently someone said, “You do talk a lot. I don’t know if I would say too MUCH.” So this just helps to compound my confusion: different opinions from different people.

So how do you resolve this issue? How do you go through all this input and decide how much is your own true, pure, undiluted self-opinion versus what is influenced by others?

At this point I know there are some people who would say to me, “Stop caring what others think.” However, if I do that then I should disregard compliments AS WELL AS insults. Otherwise I’m setting myself up to favor only the positive things about who I am without ever admitting to any negative. And not for nothing, but the whole point is I don’t know which compliments and criticisms floating around inside my head belong to me.

In the end, I guess this issue stems from a lack of self-confidence. If I were confident that I’m a decent person, then I wouldn’t be concerned about any of this. However, here we stumble upon another concern: the definition of “great person” is subjective! Do you think Charles Manson thinks of himself as a piece of shit scumbag? No! If he did, then he would have killed himself long ago.

So here I sit, floating in the limbo of this conundrum, and I’m no closer to an answer now than I was when I started this article. I was hoping that writing my thoughts down would lead me to a solutionm but I’m still hopelessly stuck at square one.

If anyone reading this out there would like to weigh in on the subject, I’d appreciate comments now more than ever.


About Steve Grogan

I am 40 years old, divorced, and a father of four kids. I am a practitioner of a self-defense system called wing chun kung fu. My other hobbies include writing, playing guitar, reading, watching movies, and listening to music. Recently I have gotten back into fitness, and this time I am DETERMINED to get the washboard abs...whether my metabolism will cooperate with me or not! The purpose of this blog is to write not only about my hobbies, but also about whatever crosses my mind, whether it is something I don't understand or something that aggravates me. So join me as I indulge my tendency to think too much about topics that don't usually cross anyone else's mind!
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