Friday, March 7, 2014

Opinions, Feelings, & Me

Opinions, Feelings, & Me
This post will be entirely (or mostly, I mean, I do have attention issues and could go off on a rabbit trail here or there) about one of the most controversial topics I think people don't even realize is a controversial topic.
Opinions, Feelings, & Me
Why should you care?
Well, you always have the option not to care. However, if you will be participating in any way shape or form in social interactions with myself, have me friend-ed or followed on any social media, or would like to converse with me in any sort of discussion or debate, you should care.
How am I a credible source on this topic?
I would like to think that I am a pretty credible source on the way I feel, the opinions I have, and generally a good sense of all things me and How-To interact with me. I dunno, it's just a hunch.
Sit back, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Have you ever heard the phrase, "Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink?" If you haven't, you have now. I like the phrase because it's almost absolutely true. Let's evaluate this. What are the similarities of opinions and assholes?
The first accusation is that everyone has an asshole, and an opinion.
I find this to be true. At least it is with me. Gotta let the food out someplace.
The next accusation is that they stink. Well, let me break this one down a bit:
  • Sometimes, they stink so bad that someone can't help but let you know.
  • Sometimes, they stink but the person next to you is too polite to bring it up or say so.
  • Sometimes, they think but the other person takes it as a challenge to fart a bit louder/stinkier.
  • Sometimes, they may stink but someone doesn't think the smell is really that bad.
  • Sometimes, they are the loud ones that don't stink at all, but people will tell you to contain yourself!
  • Sometimes, they are silent but deadly. (I think any opinion that is silent is deadly, because it never gets heard.)
Did you notice that almost always, a fart is noticed and reacted to in some way or another? I think that's pretty agreeable. I think it's important to think of it this way because people (myself included) forget that opinions are our own, and someone will always react a different way to a different opinion (or fart). But always, always, always.. Someone will smell it and not like it. It will happen. It's important to face this fact first thing when you think about voicing an opinion because you don't start off in the illusion that everyone will agree all the time, or always agree with you (or your smell).
If you would like me to elaborate a bit more on opinions, comment or message me and I will reply to this post in more detail. However, I think for now that covers that topic.
Feelings are both alike opinions and unlike them. Allow me to explain:
Opinions. Assholes. We all have one. We also all have feelings. I am in firm belief that even the most 'hardcore' individual who has successfully evaded all things emotional still has feelings somewhere deep inside. Some of us have them, but keep them fairly guarded. The rest of us hold them for all the world to see. (With or without our consent. I can't not cry at movies and special moments. Okay? Okay.)
Feelings don't smell, unlike Opinions and Farts. There is a wide variety of wonderful feelings that can be described by numerous adjectives and it would take me all day and night and then some to describe them. There are also very negative feelings. These feelings don't so much smell as they do inflict pain.
When you mix an opinion and feelings together, it's dangerous business. Very risky.
But, Atkeisson, how can you not have feelings about your opinions? Are they not the same thing?
I see what you're saying. I do. However, for this explanation (and since I lack better scientific words), we are going to say 'No.' Example!
I have a strong opinion that a child should be able to dress in whatever colors and play with whatever sort of toy they desire. (This means barbies can be for boys, and legos can be for girls!) All the kids get all the things!
This opinion is based off a multitude of reasons, but mostly because I want my child to experience the same motor skills development, puzzle-solving development, etc as all the other kids can, regardless of their gender. I think it's a big deal for all children to have this opportunity, and that demanding a child cannot play with a non-gender-appropriate toy is bad. I cannot logically think of a reason why you would deny a girl to play with action figures and legos, nor a boy the right to play with baby dolls or tea sets.
Feeling is saying that all people who deny children this make me angry and cause me great pain and grief for all the children in the world suffering from this (or ignorant to what they could be experiencing).
When I use feelings instead of opinions, I am allowing someone who will undoubtedly be out there, somewhere, with a difference of opinion on it. And rather register that they have a different opinion on the matter based on their own reasons, if I am focusing on my feelings, then I will become insulted, angered, frustrated, impatient, and illogical.
This explanation isn't as clean as I anticipated. I may perhaps come back and clarify more if someone desires it (or I find the time).
As a young adult, I am learning to place myself aside from the views of my parents, parental figures, idols, and guardians from my childhood and make my own opinions about things. It's both nerve-wrecking and adrenaline surging. I feel that much closer to becoming who I am and identifying that person when I do this and form my own opinions. I find that by doing this, I can share them with others and face altering opinions or disagreeing opinions with a good head on my shoulders, knowing that not everyone agrees and I can learn more of others, and possibly learn new things and change my opinion if the occasion calls for it.
As a writer, I will always be writing my opinions out. Thanks to social medias, I can not only speak my opinions in person to my friends and family, but I can express them on social medias and this blog. I will be doing so, and have done so, and the reactions have been an experience to learn from.
Recently, I expressed my opinions in multiple locations. I learned a few 'What to Do's' and 'What Not to Do's' while doing so. Allow me to share them with you.
When reading someone's facebook status that is of an opinion different from my own, and they have involved heavy feelings in to why they chose to have this opinion, it is NOT in my nor their best interest for me to place my two cents. By their status, I can tell that it is not safe, they are emotionally invested, and whatever I say that may differ from their view may cause harm to them, insult them, and deteriorate our relationship. Oops. Lesson learned. Foolish move on my part.
I have learned that when I post an opinion on my facebook status, I must expect a discussion. Especially if the topic is controversial. My friends (a wide variety of liberals, conservatives, green, and otherwise people) will most likely debate and have many opinions as well. Some will agree, some will not, and the discussion is healthy. This is fantastic and I was delighted to see it when I woke up from a nap which left my status unsupervised by myself only to find that while opinions were severely on different sides of the spectrum, no one was being impolite in explaining their sides and it was very much tame. Success!
I learned from a few weeks ago that if I post an opinion and the discussion amongst my friends turns hostile and impolite, I should probably step in and remind them (or remember myself, for I am not perfect) that we are all friends, this is a discussion, and feelings need to be guarded here. We can opinions, and facts. No one wants to insult someone else.
Something I struggle with (or feel I do) is explaining myself to others what I see in my head clearly. Sometimes that fuse between my brain and mouth (or fingertips) is lagging or fuzzy and it ends up with me, no matter how much thought goes in to it, making an ass out of myself. I won't see it until hindsight, and as a human, it will happen to me. I predict it will happen often.
So, when this happens I have a request of you. Should you accept, I shall extend the same courtesy to you. My opinion is that this should be the basics of social interaction, but we lost that somewhere. Here goes:
Assume that I have not said anything with the intent to cause you harm, to insult you, to belittle you, or to humiliate you in any way. Give me the benefit of the doubt, especially if we are family or friends. Remember that I care about you immensely, whoever you are, because if you have access to this we are either friends, family, or soon-to-be-friends and I don't take them lightly. So, why would I want to come out and hurt you?
This comes up a lot for people who communicate primarily through text. Reading it on a blog, a social media status, or a text message.. It's impossible to assume someone's tone, and a lot of the time when we are disagreeing, we assume that the other person has a malicious tone. We hear this tone when we read their words and things get heated.
Stop! It's not what you think! Stop! In the name of love! Before you break my heart.
Let me be the first to say, though, that if you truly feel insulted, do not come at me with your own malice. Do not right the wrong you feel with another wrong. Come to me and tell me, explain what it is that has hurt you and we can work through it. Maybe I was being an ass unintentionally (not unheard of, again, human). Maybe something I said sounded awful in text, but was nothing of the sort and it's a matter of perceived tone. Either way, I value our relationship enough to want to work with you, whatever the problem may be, to keep you around. Or, if you'd rather write me off, maybe its for the best. I hope you find the happiness you seek.
An important thing to remember, that I learned from lots of counseling, is that I am in control of my emotions. No one can cause me to feel anything I do not give consent to. Now, I'm still working on not feeling pain when someone steps on my toe. Don't ask for the cure on that one yet, but let me tell you a short story.
At one point, I had convinced myself that someone was angry with me. I didn't speak to them about it, and they didn't know I thought this of them, but I was pretty damn sure they hated me and wanted to ruin my life. (Selfish, right? I know. I grew up later.) Any thing this person would make as their status that had any negative connotation, I would think to myself, "THEY MUST BE TALKING ABOUT ME. How rude. They think they're being so sly, that I wouldn't know they're talking about me. Rude."
They would post things like quotes such as: "Life is what you make it."
Naturally, I thought they meant: "Atkeisson, you should stop being sad about your life and grow up. I'm so tired of you right now. I am judging you."
They would post something like: "Keep a positive attitude. Things can always get better."
To me, I thought they said: "You're too negative, Atkeisson. Get over yourself and think positive! I am judging you."
How rude, right? Or... how selfish. I was making whatever they would post become about myself. Doing so, I had created this awful persona of a person who had absolutely no idea. One day, they found out how I felt and confronted me. HELLO THAT IS PRETTY SCARY. I'm already convinced they're out to get me, and now they want to confront me about it? Who do they think they are?!
But.. They didn't come to me angry. They came to me confused. They didn't say mean things to me. They asked me why I was angry and thought mean things of them. I.. I had no answer for them. I slowly realized I had no proof other than my speculation that their life revolved around me, and I felt like the dumbest ass alive. Can you say 'Award for Most Selfish' ?
Once I realized I treated not only this person, but many people like this... I vowed to change it. I vowed to give the benefit of the doubt. This philosophy was only strengthened once I found God in my life, and learned it is also something he wants me to do.. So I couldn't be far off for making this change in myself.
Anyway, the moral of that short story is.. Give the benefit of the doubt to me. Assume I am not trying to be a dick and insult you, but perhaps, I am trying to make a point about something. If I post a status of encouragement, or happiness.. Assume I am happy, or encouraged, or wishing to encourage others!
In return, I will also give the benefit of the doubt to you.
One last thing about me having opinions... I will have them, and they are mine. I will post the ones I want to post. If I have posted it on the internet, assume (again, give me the benefit of the doubt) that I have given it a long, hard thought before I've done so. Assume that I have phrased things carefully as to express my opinion without insulting any one or shaming any one for not sharing it. If you find offense due to my opinion being different, and you confront me to tell me that, for example, my opinion on children's toys is insulting you.. I am going to politely ask you if you read my entire post (opinion) about them. If you say yes, I am going to ask you to point out where I've insulted you, personally, in particular. I will also ask how what I have said has affected you so deeply.
There is no wrong answer as long as you give me one, and I will do my best to understand it and help you to understand it and feel better. But know this.. My counselor has suggested to me, as someone who used to apologize for every ridiculous and little thing, that I only apologize for things I regret. This has caused me to think about things in a light of, "Will I regret saying this? Do I regret saying this?" If the answer is 'No', then I will not apologize for it. If you found offense in it, again, as I said, I will try and work it out with you so that you can better understand the intent (which is almost never malicious towards anyone, because if it is, I would name you specifically and we'd have words aside) of my statements.
Phew! We made it to the end of the post. What a long one. Last question:
Why did you pick the picture 'I will be good' with a kid in a dunce hat to be the picture of this post?
Because all my life, I thought being good was agreeing with everyone, and agreeing with things because it was less conflicting than having my own opinion. It's how I've felt until I learned to have my own thoughts and opinions and discovered a little more of myself. Now, being good to me means being true to myself and others. If I can accomplish that, even if a few toes are stepped on, I will not regret it, nor accept punishment for it.
Have a wonderful Friday everyone. Christmas is around the corner, and families will be getting together. I hope this post has helped you prepare for what everyone thinks are inevitable 'holiday dramas'. Remember, your family loves you (as dysfunctional as it might or might not be), and they mean no harm.
Good morning!

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