Why do we all think that we are able to give our opinion at anytime?
Often we give our opinion when it is not asked for. We weigh in with our infinite wisdom and slosh it down on the poor unsuspecting family member, friend or even stranger, either with dire consequences or a more underhand damage that isn't seen on the surface but that can fetter the other person, leaving them halted in their tracks.
I was speaking to a friend the other day whose husband is a successful film producer. They were at a dinner and over the table a person felt bound to disperse his opinion on the latest film that the producer had released. The comments weren't that complimentary and the evening went on. The comments were hurtful to the person because they weren't complimentary and, more importantly, they weren't asked for. We are slow to think that what we are entitled to say isn't something that is wanted or given permission to be received.
Another example - I was in a radio interview the other day, halfway through a radio tour of the UK. A radio tour incidentally is not a light undertaking, let me tell you. The interviewer started off with a statement that she really didn't like my beard. I let it hang in the air. Now this is one way to deal with an unwanted opinion. Let it hang there and do not engage in it. If there is no engagement there is nothing the words can bounce off.
What I wanted to say however was that I never asked for her opinion on my personal grooming and look... Doesn't come across so well on radio. We are all entitled though to say this. We set our boundaries to state it is not ok and that we weren't asking for any comment.
The compost that enables the growth of people feeling they have to pass on their own reflections on what someone else should do or has done is the animal that is co-dependency. It is a complicated beast, woven into the heart of our psyche and indeed society. To take one of its key strains however: Co-dependency causes people to be able to handle what another person is doing or saying. We cannot cope with our own responses and reactions to someone else that we feel we must make it right for THEM. If it isn't right for them then how can it be right for us. As so few of us I believe want to work out our own emotional reaction to things we believe it must be the other person and so we act accordingly to sort that person out.
A common example: a friend comes to talk about their relationship problems or anxieties. Unable to cope with our own feelings of rejection, love, fear and anger we feel compelled to 'fix' the others persons feelings to allow ours to go away. This can grow into taking on the role of the 'fixer' friend who always 'helps' others and never looks at their own lives. I played that role very well for a long time.
The problem with dumping our opinion on others is we actually take power away from that person. We do not allow them to find their own way, we disempower them and disallow them to seek their own resolution. We also prevent ourselves from being truly connected to people by simply being present. To sit and truly be present with someone is the most beautiful thing. To sit with a partner or friend or family member and let them tell what they need to tell, or do what they need to do and assure them you are there by their side is truly majestic and creates a much stronger and lasting bond.
So next time you feel you need to give your opinion... check yourself and ask if it is really appropriate? You will be surprised by your conclusion.