Unwelcome Opinions: Why We Should Exchange Judgment for Understanding

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by Lachelle Watson

Giving and receiving advice is an integral part of sisterhood. We bond through vent sessions, consoling one another after break ups and giving words of encouragement that provide the strength to continue pressing on. Those moments have such a large impact on how much we value our relationships with one another and even on how we perceive ourselves as friends, sisters and women.

I’ve been blessed with a few women who have been there for me during high highs and low lows. As I’ve become more conscious of who I am, my strengths and the areas that I need to work on, I’ve also become more conscious of the people I keep around me. It’s become increasingly important that I keep around those who not only inspire growth and progression but also are willing to accept me for who I am, flaws and all.

Self-awareness is vital in matters of personal growth. We should never fear our faults nor should we believe having great strengths makes us exempt from needing further self-improvement. So, when someone takes it upon themselves to bring certain things about who I am and how I’m choosing to live my life to my attention I keep my ears open. And while I am certainly receptive to what people I care about have to say about who I am as a person, I’m learning that it’s okay to sift through those opinions in lieu of indulging in them all.

Being the fiercely independent woman I am, I take pride in living my life on my own terms but of course, this is not always okay with the people around me. I’ve gotten so much flack for things I do that don’t even negatively affect anyone around me. For the longest time, I would take the negative opinions to heart but there came a time where I realized unwarranted advice and opinions on my life aren’t always conducive to my growth.

The problem with unwarranted advice is that it dances between being caring and being judgmental. Many people do not possess the tact to bring things to your attention without in the very same breath, attacking your character. Though I’m sure many of the people who do this certainly mean well, there is a thin line between being disapproving and offensive.

It’s expressing disdain for your friend’s boyfriend who isn’t necessarily a bad person but you just don’t think is good enough for her. It’s the intolerance of certain personalities traits in others that aren’t harmful but just make you uncomfortable. It’s not being respectful of sexual orientations different than your own. It’s being unsupportive of career paths or dreams you don’t deem as reputable. It’s holding people to your standards of living and not regarding their standards for their lives as sufficient.

I’m sure at some point in my life I have been guilty of this but as I become more aware of who I am, I’m able to see that I am only as much of an individual as the people around me. It’s these differences that challenge us to be better people to others. Healthy co-existing is not just about being tolerant of our differences; it’s about accepting them as well. It would benefit us all if we loved our sisters consciously without our opinions impeding our ability to fully embrace one another.

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