"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." ~Marcus Aurelius
That quote really got me thinking...
How many times have I put my truth onto others and judged them harshly when their truth didn’t align with mine? How often do I speak as though my opinion is a fact of the world? How often do I hear other people’s opinions as facts and take them personally if they’re not the same as my opinions?
Language can be tricky sometimes. We go around assuming that English is English, and therefore every word must mean the same thing to everyone...but I argue: that’s generally not the case. Consider this simple example:
“Is it cold outside?”
A seemingly straight-forward question, right? Well, maybe if it’s -200 degrees F, everyone on the planet would agree: it’s cold outside. But what if it’s 58 degrees F out? I doubt there’d be a comparable consensus at that temperature. I know my brother’s definition of cold is about 10 degrees lower than the point when I’m already saying I’m freezing...
But here we are, anyways, going around in the world assuming we all mean the same things when we say certain words, and then getting confused when misunderstandings occur. Or worse, judging others when their truths/definitions-of-certain-words don’t line up with ours.
“Oh, that’s expensive.”
What number makes something “expensive,” exactly? And when is it a relevant definition? If I say $10 for a gallon of milk is expensive -- that’s different from saying $10 is expensive for a 5-bedroom house on 5 acres of land. Not only is the word relative between different people, but it even changes definitions within the same person’s vocabulary, depending on the frame of reference.
My point [opinion] is this: Don’t let language trick you into treating something as an absolute fact or truth when it’s actually just an opinion or perspective, whether yours or someone else’s.
No, I’m not suggesting you go around qualifying everything you ever say with an “in my opinion...” or “I believe...” etc. because I think it’s safe to assume that everything you’re saying is your opinion.
I’m just cautioning you against believing that your opinion or perspective is THE opinion or perspective of the world. I’ve caught myself doing this several times a day [yes, several is another relative word!], and I’m tired of it. I’m sick of sitting around in negative judgment of others, holding my self & my values as right and judging others as wrong for having different opinions/perspectives from me. In those moments, all I’m doing is spewing negative judge-y energy into the world from my high horse. Ick. Enough is enough.
If you’re with me, let’s decide to rise above our negative judgments and choose to acknowledge everyone on their own paths with love and grace. Let’s accept that people have different opinions, different perspectives...different truths. And let’s get curious about their whys, instead of judging them for being different from us!
The more we seek to understand others, the more we’ll understand ourselves, and the more we’ll see we’re all connected. :)
PS - Here is a list of relative terms/phrases that are often mis-used as absolutes: Cold. Hot. Big. Small. Fat. Skinny. Good. Bad. Expensive. Cheap. Beautiful. Ugly. Valuable. Expendable. Important. Funny. Appropriate. Polite. Rude. A lot. A little. Easy. Hard. Fast. Slow. Awesome. Terrible. Fun. Boring. Nice. Not nice. Delicious. Gross. Young. Old. New.