do not live by the opinions of others

The greatest fear in the world is the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.

— Osho

ID-100259979 opinions
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Everyone has an opinion on everything — everyone is at the receiving end of opinions.

Some people deliver their opinions with tact, others don’t.

Some people accept some opinions, learning and growing from them, others have their lives dictated by them.

The latter category is not a good one to be in.

So many people I know, including myself, spend way too much time living their lives via the opinions of others.

At different times and for very good reasons, we all seek the opinions of family, friends and colleagues; the difference is knowing which advice and opinions to take on board and which to file away for later … or never.

As a child, a teenager and a young teacher I worried constantly about what people thought of me. The clothes I wore, the way I spoke, the things I did. I spent an insane amount of time being pulled to and fro between opinions … wanting to please everybody, wanting people to like me or accept me … when I should have only been focused on pleasing, liking and accepting myself.

You can not live like that.

Trying to please everyone in your life reminds me of staff meetings at one of my first schools. Every Monday the same items would come up for discussion. The conversation would go round the circle; everyone was expected to contribute. Our Principal wanted consensus. The staff at the time was rather divisive, so consensus was never going to be reached. The opinion of each and every staff member was thrown into the ring, but nobody was game to sort them out … keep some, discard others … for fear of making some people unhappy.

A divisive team with no decisive leadership is not a good thing. But neither is a single person without the strength or confidence to make their own decisions — no matter what other people may say.

I have become a stronger person as I have gotten older. I still worry about what people may think about what I say, how I look and how I act … but I am better at justifying my actions and decisions, and being happy with the results. I have improved my ability to listen to the opinions of others and categorize them into take on board right now, worth a listen and file away for later or complete and utter garbage.

Sometimes this causes friction, but I reiterate — you have to be happy with yourself and the decisions you make, the paths you follow. This will never happen if you allow yourself to be pushed and pummelled by the opinions of others.

Some opinions need to be discarded, no matter what the fallout is. To people who may get offended because I don’t follow their advice, or have appeared not to have taken their opinions on board … sorry, your thoughts are appreciated but I am my own person. If I make a mistake, because I haven’t listened to you, then it’s on me. But if you decide to have a go at me, or continue to badger me because I am not doing what you want me to do … you will have a fight on your hands.

Compared to the first half of my life, I feel I am a happier person — happier within myself anyway. There are times I do not like who I am, because of a course I have taken or something I have said … but on the whole I am pleased with the person I have become because I have, for the most part, freed myself from the restraints of the opinions of others.

How can you be happy, and free, if you live your life trying to please everyone else, except yourself?


2 thoughts on “do not live by the opinions of others

  1. How true is your quote!!
    It is my opinion that we members of a global society are always worrying about the underlying question in life, ‘What will people think?’
    While there may be merits to posing this question, that when it comes to personal matters, I agree that increasing years bring more wisdom and consequently our response to what other people may think may not be as guarded when we were younger, especially in the ‘sponge-like’ teenage years.
    As was reiterated at the ANU Critical Thinking Course that I recently attended, ‘Knowledge is ‘justified’ real belief.’ It is so important that we justify our thinking, according to Socratic knowledge. As the great sage once said ,’I know nothing!’. Powerful words, methinks.
    As we celebrate Harmony Day, may our world stop to think and justify actions that we are presently taking. May world leaders learn to make just decisions and give us strong, thoughtful and justified direction!
    Let’s try to make the world a better place!!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I’d gone with you to that course at the ANU … I know it was brain-draining, but it seems like there was lots of food for thought. (And potential quotes to be put to good use.)


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