Just because an idea or way of doing things is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Part of the way that something becomes popular is that many of us don’t take the time to determine what’s right for us; we simply do what most people we know are doing. In this way, our decisions about life are made by default; they aren’t conscious decisions. Many other options may be available, but we don’t always take the time to explore them. This may be the result of feeling overwhelmed or pressured by family, peers and humanity at large to do things their way—the way things have always been done. Regardless of the cause, it’s important that, as often as we can, we decide for ourselves what to do with our lives, rather than just drift along on the current of popular opinion.
It’s not always easy to make decisions that go against the grain. Many people feel threatened when those close to them make choices divergent from the ones they are making. Parents and grandparents may be confused and defensive when we choose to raise our children differently from the way they raised us. Friends may feel abandoned if we decide to change our habits or behavior. Meanwhile, on our side of the fence, it’s easy to feel frustrated and defensive when we feel unsupported and misunderstood, simply because we are thinking for ourselves. It can be exhausting to have to explain and re-explain our points of view and our reasons.
This is where gentleness, openness and tolerance come into play. It helps if we are calmly persistent, consistent and clear as we communicate to those around us why we are making the choices we are making. At the same time, we have the right to say that we are tired of talking about it and simply need our choices to be respected. Our lives belong to us, and so do our decisions. Those who truly love us will stand by us and support our choices—never mind what’s popular.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #33.
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