I believe in being open minded. I try to look at multiple sides of an issue. I try to withhold judgement. Unfortunately this has the side effect of making my brain a very noisy place. Other people’s opinions echo in my head and they continue arguing with each other inside my head. I slowly become overwhelmed with the chaos of voices because I can see at least some validity in all the opposing arguments. At some point I have to quell the pandemonium. I have to decide which voices to listen to and which to reject. I have to make judgements about what I believe and what I don’t. This is hard, because it means not being completely open minded. It means that someday someone may accuse me of being narrow, and they will be correct. That will sting. But I can’t function as a human being if I consider all sources of input to be equally valid. I have to filter or I will go crazy with stress.
Accepting the need to filter, I then have the challenge of figuring out what and how. Some choices are obvious. I don’t want to listen to hate-filled voices. They do not make my life, or the world a better place. I don’t really want to listen to fear-driven opinions, but there are a lot more of those than it seems at first glance. I hold a slew of them myself. I try to root them out, but they’re sneaky. Ill-informed opinions can be eliminated, but I have to take the time to become informed enough to recognize them. The hardest part is when I have to filter out loving, well-intentioned opinions. There are so many of them on just about any topic that exists. I wish just being loving and well-intentioned automatically made everyone agree. But it doesn’t. And I have to choose who to listen to.
I wish I could conclude with a paragraph about how I’ve solved this problem. Unfortunately I haven’t solved it yet. I keep finding myself in a state where contrary voices are howling around me. Instead this post just needs to sit here as a marker pointing up a life thing that is difficult. You don’t have to listen to everybody. You can’t listen to everybody. There simply isn’t enough time and energy. You have to choose and that’s okay. It also means that sometimes someone will choose not to listen to you and you have to accept that as well. I do have a means by which I feel my way out of the chaos. I use prayer and inspiration to help me find my core voice. I listen to that voice first and it helps me make the hard choices about what else I should listen to. I suppose that is a solution after all, though I honestly believed I didn’t have one when I began this paragraph. Finding that calm inner voice is difficult when the world is noisy, but the effort is worthwhile.
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