Living Beyond the Opinions

Our dependency makes slaves out of us, especially if this dependency is a dependency of our self-esteem. If you need encouragement, praise, pats on the back from everybody, then you make everybody your judge.
--Fritz Perls

If you really want to live your life to the fullest and realize your greatest potential, you must be willing to run the risk of making some people mad. Oh, they will be mad! Whenever you move beyond someone's opinion of you, they get upset because you thought more of yourself than they thought of you.

If you want to know just how much you can do, how far you can reach, how much you can stretch, you must be willing to do more, be more and have more than those in your present company have. This does not mean you should compare yourself to them. Nor does it mean you are showing off. Oh, no! It means that you must be willing to step out on your own, try life for yourself and claim your divine inheritance without guilt.

If you really want to know who you are and what you are capable of achieving, you must be willing to live without the opinions of other people. That means you don't ask for opinions! And when they are offered, you need not accept them. In order to find your identity, your authenticity and a true sense of wholeness, you must develop your individuality from the wealth of information that comes from within you. Of course others around you can give you effective feedback. But you need not make it your gospel. People may not like what you do, people may not like how you do it, but these people are not living your life. You are! Until you are willing to live beyond the opinions of other people, and without the company of other people, you will have no idea of what your life is all about.

Until today, you may have been holding on to other people's opinions about you and doing your best to keep people with you and on your side. Just for today, take a risk! Tell somebody what you really want for your life. Tell someone you do not agree with their opinion of you. then jump into the center of your own life and get comfortable being there.

Today I am devoted to living my life without guilt and based on my own opinions!

-Iyanla Vanzant, Until Today! - Daily Devotions for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind © 2000

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself.
--Harvey Fierstein

My sister says that Iyanla Vanzant is sometimes too flip, too "surface," no depth. Maybe that is true in the estimation of some of her readers. But one thing that I have gotten from her writings is that she addresses a broad variety of subjects squarely and forthrightly. She challenges herself, and is not intimidated by anything or anyone, and this speaks volumes for the amount of self-esteem she possesses. The above excerpt is a good example of this. Her writing is loud and colorful, as well as instructive. I get the idea that Iyanla really likes who she is!

Self-esteem is one of those subjects that almost everyone has an opinion on or an idea about, but the definition of it sometimes seems to be all over the map. It is often confused with something that others give to us - nnnnnnnnope, that would be more like "honor" or "respect." Self-esteem, no matter what other definitions you ascribe to it, is something one gives to one's self. It is the way in which we honor or value ourself, who we are, how we act and think and believe, and what quality of person we are. Who has self-esteem? Who doesn't? Is it obvious who does and who doesn't? How important is it? Is it necessary to have it, and if so, why? How does one build self-esteem? What does it profit someone to have it?

Here are a few ideas about how to boost your self-esteem. Be a participant in life - get connected to all of the variety of life that goes on around you. Experience is the best teacher, and you can learn a lot from the examples, as well as the trials, of others. Add life to your days instead of days to your life - find those things which you enjoy and do more of them! Instead of saying "yes" when you mean "no," say "no" when you mean "no." Your energy should be expended on those things which you choose to do willingly. Sacrifice only what time and energy you have to spare, and no more. You will like yourself for having the courage to choose what is good for you. Learn to ask for what you want. People are not mind readers, and they have their own concerns. Let them know what you need from them, and give them a choice about giving of their time and effort - they will be more considerate of you, too! Be sure to ask the Universe for what you want, too. Wishing upon a star hasn't yet gone out of fashion, and it keeps you connected to the Source of your blessings.

When you have a choice of being alone or in bad company, choose being alone. You won't fall off the cliff if you don't walk near the edge. Surround yourself with positive, upbeat people. Stop going back to the same people for the same rejections. Invent new solutions to old problems after wearing out old solutions that you know don't work. One of the best solutions to apply all across the fabric of your life is to tell the truth to yourself and to others. Avoid little white lies like the plague. You'll sleep better at night, rather than lying awake trying to keep your story straight and worrying about who will find out what. To strive for inner peace, don't blame your inner upset on outside causes. To discover the value of self-reliance, don't put your life on hold waiting for someone else to catch up to where you are in your life, appreciate who you are or what you do, or notice your good works or attributes. And just don't make excuses for anything. Take full charge of, and responsibility for, all aspects of who and what you are, and don't let anyone else define or limit that for you. Be real, and never pretend to be what someone else needs you to be.

Work in harmony with the world by finding it within yourself first. See your imperfections as part of your unique brand of human perfection. Give yourself some credit by thinking three positive thoughts about yourself before falling asleep at night and before getting out of bed each morning. Define your importance by your character, not by your accomplishments. Look yourself eye-to-eye in the mirror and tell yourself that you are loving and lovable. Accept your love handles, broken nose, wrinkles, crooked teeth, gray hair and everything else about yourself exactly as you are. Not every one is a Venus di Milo or Adonis.

Basing your concept of Self upon the opinion of others will wear you down. Affirm and enjoy your strengths, talents and creativity, and don't hide these qualities just to protect other people's egos. Let your light shine! Rely upon what you see, feel and know - value your own thoughts above those of others, while honoring others with kindness and consideration, and insisting on the same in return. Let go of all the shame, all the guilt and any behavior that stands in the way of loving yourself and others. Expect the best of yourself, but be patient, understanding and forgiving when you are unable to deliver it every time.

Don't you know that you are the greatest!? If you can, find the middle ground between the extreme forms of self-involvement and selflessness, and you will have all of the self-esteem you need. Oh, and get loud and colorful once in a while! Have fun, especially when you are in no one else's company but your own. Learn to like who you are, and you will be an instrument for building the esteem of others by your example.



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