Our kids are living in a modern world where cyber bullies and online trolls are rife. I hear mums lamenting this Internet age where our children are so susceptible to other people’s opinions.
Just last week a very public Australian cricket saga came about. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock (no judgement here, I often hide under a rock), some high profile person made a very serious error of judgement and tampered with a cricket ball. He made a mistake. And the entire country had an opinion. He was victimised and crucified and then he was celebrated and then hated again.
What has not changed, is that people make mistakes. Who has made a mistake in their life? My hand is high in the air. I’ve made plenty of those.
It’s true that the opinion of other people is LOUDER in this age of the internet. Back in the day, people’s publicly announced opinions were reserved to talk back radio and the newspaper’s “dear editor” page. Now we are privy to EVERYONE’s opinion. Opinions can be expressed publicly on basically every form of media. And if we are the subject of that commentary, that can feel like a lot of heat for one person to handle.
But really, we have always had to deal with other people’s opinions and no matter how intense the barrage of opinions are, it’s what we decide to do with those opinions that matter.
We can choose to ignore popular opinion altogether. Or we can choose to listen to what people say and then we get to choose to believe whatever we want to believe.
It sounds so simple and yet we are brought up to believe that other people can hurt our feelings by what they say and do.
It doesn’t mean that we necessarily condone other people’s actions, or we should not hold ourselves accountable for our own actions. It just means that we have control over what we make other people’s actions and comments mean. If someone is communicating shameful messages about us, we don’t have to hate ourselves and feel ashamed. If we are confident about who we are, what we believe in, then the opinions of others doesn’t have any effect on us.
This is powerful, I want to teach this to my kids. I want to empower my kids to know that no one has the power to make them feel a certain way. I want them to know that no one can influence their pride, their dignity or confidence. They have the power to control their own self-belief and no one can take that away from them.
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Image by Bruno Nasci.