I’ve been thinking a lot about this question… and, in a nutshell:
It can’t be done.
It’s absolutely impossible to please everyone all the time. People are going to have differing opinions. People will disagree with your choices. Some people may even voice their disapproval and tell you (in no uncertain terms) that your way is “wrong”… and their way is “right”.
This is true of almost everything. People will tell you that your views on God are wrong. That the way you raise your children is wrong. That your ideas on politics are wrong. That the choices you’ve made and the way you live your life is wrong.
That’s just how many people are. They have very strong beliefs and opinions on what’s right and what’s wrong – and many of them will want you to comply with those beliefs.
It is what it is.
You WILL offend someone.
And especially if you are living a very honest and very authentic life… and even more especially… if your life is a bit different… a bit out of the ordinary… and even more so if you’re a rule-breaker (like me).
If you live differently, you will get criticised for it.
Not by everyone (thankfully!)… but certainly by some.
The part I’ve been trying to figure out is this:
- How to deal with the criticism (and not let someone else’s negativity latch itself on to me).
- How to live authentically in spite of the criticism and to not allow it to morph me into a polite, simpering, one-dimensional doormat… who deliberately pushes down her own voice and ideas so as not to offend anyone else. This. is. not. easy. for. me.
I’m not a person who enjoys conflict. I don’t share my thoughts or ideas (or dreams) in order to be controversial or to piss people off… I share them because I’m trying to live a more authentic and deliberate life… and blogging is actually a great way for me to process my thoughts and ideas (and to get interesting feedback from other people… and to keep family and friends updated with my journey…. and to connect with other people who perhaps resonate with what I write).
But when you write (honestly) about sensitive topics like…
Someone’s gonna get offended. Someone’s going to take it personally. Someone is going to see your decision to do things in a certain way as a direct affront on their decision not to.
And that’s the problem – and the risk – with living authentically and being ‘real’: someone’s not gonna like it.
But I guess the question we need to ask ourselves is this:
Does it really matter?
Does it matter that certain people won’t approve? Does it matter what people say or think about us?
I think the best we can do is to share our stories authentically – and then practice patience and tolerance towards people who (may) get huffy.
Here’s the way I try to respond to those who criticise my choices:
1. “Can we agree to disagree on this?”
Of course, many people will never be content until you agree to agree (with THEIR way – or THEIR belief system, of course). Oh well. Too bad. Can’t please ’em all.
2. “I’m not trying to convert you!”
When I first tried to explain my spiritual journey to a couple of close Christian friends – they seemed to think that I was trying to “convert” them to my way of thinking. The truth is, I only wanted to share my journey. I wasn’t interested in trying to proselytise (but some people will remain convinced that this was my motive). Oh well. Too bad. Can’t please ’em all.
3. “I respect your right to disagree”.
And I really do. The world would be an awfully boring place if we were all exactly the same. I love diversity. I respect that people have differing opinions and differing belief systems – and I love that about the world. I respect people’s right to live differently to me… to believe differently… to behave differently. However – there will always be people who don’t respect those rights – and who will want me to believe, behave and live the same as them. Oh well. Too bad. Can’t please ’em all.
4. “Feel free to avert your eyes”
And to the people who take offence at our choices… at the way we educate our kids… at the way we live… hey, feel free to avert your eyes! Delete me as a facebook friend! Don’t read my blog! And – (if a relative or family friend) – I really don’t mind if you prefer to discuss the weather at our next meeting. You don’t have to engage with us if you find our choices offensive. You do have a choice in the matter. Avert your eyes… smile and wave… whatever works best for you! 🙂
So – the moral of this post is this:
You will never be able to please everyone… and trying to please everyone will drain you of life and make you miserable. As the saying goes: