Other people’s opinions, and the decision we end up making


“Later in life she came clean. She told me that she’d gotten so depressed that she turned on the gas one night. But my brother and I started crying in the crib. And she was so touched that she decided to keep going. She became a nurse at Lennox Hill hospital. She was married three times. Three sets of children. Each time her husband claimed she wouldn’t make it without him. Each time she said (to herself) “Go on ahead”.” (1)

Stories like the one above show that other people’s opinions,

and actions,

have an influence on the decisions we make.

Meaning you,


and others.

But this goes against what the self-growth movement would like you and I to believe;

that we should “stop caring about what other people say (about us)”,

if we want to succeed.

Or as some others will put it:

“You’ve got to “do you”.”

Reality is,

we don’t live in a vaccum.

Or on an island,

cut-off from all civilzation.

Cause everyday,

you and I interact with other people.

We get bits of information from them.

All in different ways.

Through news stories they share with us,

memories they’ve been reminded of,

facts they’ve came across,

anecdotes they’ve gathered that day.

Or through the advices and tips they give us,

when they hear we’ve been struggling with an issue.


this sharing is done in person.

Other times,

it’s over the phone,

through an email,

the radio or else.

We do the same ourselves, too.

Sharing bits of information.

On top of that,

we also give our opinions about these facts,

stories or news we’ve just shared,

or been told about.

Cause they make us react.

From “a lot” to “not much”.

And depending how strong of a chord a bit of advice or information strikes in us,

its impact on the decisions we come to make,

at some point,

changes too.

For instance,

when the babies cried,

the mom in the story above might have felt her guts wrecking.

From guilt;

“I can’t leave them alone”.

Or from shame;

“I should know better. (…) I’m a bad mother.”

And then,

she might have experienced some sort of “oomph” coming from somewhere deeper,

inside her.

Cause of some empathy;

“They need a mom who can look out for them…”

Just right before she felt a burst of determination;

“I don’t know how, yet, but I’ll find a way to change my situation and support my kids.”

Or when her husbands would tell her: “You can’t make it without me”.

She might have noticed her hands turning into fists.

Her neck and shoulder getting tensed.

Then a ball of fire growing in, both, her belly and eyes,

out of anger.

Out of a desire for revenge;

“I’ll show you what I’m capable of!”

Or out of sheer determination;

“I’ll find a way to manage to support my self and the kids, without you!”

The fact that these babies made their mom go along with what they cried out for;

a need for help,

and that her different husbands got her to go away,

each time,

cause of their attitude towards her,

it raises the question:

which opinion (or action) should we “let in”,


or simply “leave out”,

when we need to make a decision?

One direction we can look into for an answer is that of vacuum cleaners.

As vacuum machines don’t let “everything” in.

They have different head brushes,

different “filters”,

that allow them to “pick things up”,

but avoid getting all clogged up.

Even industrial-built

vacuum street-sweepers don’t pick up,

don’t “let in” every piece or type of litter,

waste or trash they come across.

They’re selective.

Maybe just as we should be.

You and I might not have head-brushes,

per say,

but there are “filters” we can use.

At least,

when we feel stuck about a decision to be made.

The first “filter” we can use is the way a story or an opinion makes us react.

“How do I feel about what he just told me?

Am I depressed?

Am I all fired up?

Does it simply leave me cold (vf: indifférent), cause I don’t care?”

But there’s also this other filter.

A question as well.

“If I do as this person (of group of people) says, who’s interest will it serves best? Hers/theirs or mine?”

People might want and try to influence the choices we make,

you and I.


“influencing” doesn’t mean “deciding”.

By setting our own filters,

we get to choose what we want to let in,

or brush aside,

sort of speak.

You get to help yourself in another way too.

Cause you remind yourself that,

at the end of the day,

you get to decide how you want to use your time.

Not someone else.

Whether you want to go forward.

With a clear mind,

and do things,

achieve goals.

Or to go in circles.

With the impression of walking with a clogged vacuum bag instead of your head, sitting on your shoulders,

and get nothing done.

– – – Reference – – – – – –

(1) This story was first published on Humans of New York’s website ( https://www.humansofnewyork.com/ )

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