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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

"If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."


I was in a strategy meeting with a client this morning, and we discussed the SOPs I’ve helped build for the business's daily operations. As we were talking and discovering how differently we approach some of the steps we take, I had this long thought, and shared part of it with them: 


“I am very rigid in my thinking when it comes to how things are done, which helps me know how to create operational processes well. But I also know this quality comes with drawbacks. Since I do not have a good short-term memory, if I don't do tasks in a concise way, the same way each time, I fear I will make a mistake. And, I don't want to make a mistake because mistakes negatively affect my perfectionist personality and may also affect the perception a client has of your business. So, if we don't follow the processes outlined in the SOP, mistakes could happen.”


This is not necessarily a wrong way to think. As an editor and writer, perfectionism comes in handy. 


But it can be a hindrance when my mind doesn’t move out of its rigidity in order to understand that there could be a different way of doing things. And there is a reason for this.


When you deal with trauma during childhood, your brain is rewired to treat every moment as if you’re in danger. For many people, like myself, it can take years of cognitive behavioral therapy to deal with this rewiring. And part of the effect of trauma is that you can develop mental roadblocks to understanding new information. (I actually wrote more in-depth about my journey through this healing process of learning in a past blog.) 


So, thinking about this today, a saying from my growing-up years resurfaced: 


"If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." 


I thought about how we all used to laugh when Mom said it. Now, though, I kind of understand where she may have been coming from. 


Mom also went through trauma as a child and, looking back on her personality, I can empathize with her need to be in control of her environment (aka spotless home and yard) and jobs she took (aka those she knew she would do well in) and her relationships (aka she and my dad argued every day I lived with them). 


Her semi-joking comment about other people’s opinions made sense to her because, in her trauma-hurt mind, only she knew what was right and good for her and, subsequently, for everyone else around her. After all, her ways were the ways that would keep her, and others, safe and protected. 


I lived the majority of my life in this same frame of mind. It was only through long, intense therapy that I learned other people's opinions can have merit in my world. That I don't have to be so rigid in my thinking and I can be assured that people do not mean me harm when they offer suggestions and different ways of doing things.

 

So, when another situation today challenged my thinking, I took the time to reflect on why I reacted the way I did, considering what I've learned over the years, and what I had just experienced that morning with my client. 


First, a bit of background. 


I've been active on LinkedIn since the beginning of the year with three goals in mind:


  1. Build a library of people with more experience and knowledge whom I can learn from

  2. Follow companies who provide resources and even more knowledge about the industries I work within (to improve the work I do for my clients)

  3. Have a safe space for networking that doesn’t require me to go to a social mixer


Today, when I posted about an event I was very excited about attending and the reasons why I was so eager for it, I received a public comment that went like this: 


“Oh Susan I started to and then I had to stop

I just could not keep reading

Your writing is too long you say too much

Please don’t write so much

Shorten your long paragraphs

It pains me to read so much writing”


That picture above? That's my AI-generated face after reading their words. Because I needed to push my stress into a creative moment instead of crying.


And the words were not spoken in jest—trust me, I read them several times to try and find the humor—they were written with complete earnestness.


And my reaction was to immediately delete the comment, disconnect from the person, and then block them from seeing more of my content. I was so taken aback by their words and the negativity and criticism behind them. Right then, I decided I did not want to be subjected to this kind of exchange again.


Was I right in my decision?


I don't know.


But I do know that I have the power to control who I allow in my space, and this person is not one of those people.


Authentic feedback can be helpful if it's meant to help and not just criticism and complaint because of personal taste.


So, the more I think about it, the more I'd like to think that my response was justified, even if it was a gut reaction.


But knowing my brain has been telling me to react instead of respond for so long, was I right to think I was protecting my peace of mind?


Or was I just contributing to the same kind of criticism because of personal taste?


What do you think?






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