Many years ago my mother told me something that has stayed in my mind ever since the day she said it. She said “…people will believe whatever they want to believe…” She went on to say that no matter what you do or say it will mean nothing to them. People were always going to believe the story or the version that they most wanted to be true.
She was right.
As a person that adores evidence and reasoning I found this very hard to accept and I wanted to believe that she was over exaggerating human nature. However, no matter how much I wished it wasn’t true it didn’t change the fact that, on the whole, it is absolutely spot on.
People will believe what they want to believe and what they deep down hope is true. It seems human nature to put our hopes and needs before what we can see is true. We interpret things that best suits our own world view and proves us right.
Because many things in life are not always black and white it allows us to paint the greys the way we want to. See things with the bias and intention that best suits us. Argue in favour of what best helps our cause or plight.
It is for this reason that I no longer try to correct peoples ideas or misconceptions about me. It is a futile and pointless exercise. If someone wants to believe something about me or interpret what I have done or do in a certain way then I no longer try to explain things from my perspective.
I used to work extra hard at proving I was better than how some people saw me. I would offer as much proof as I could of my kindness and worthiness. I would bend over backwards to try and please others and have them like me. Not anymore.
No matter who the person is in relation to me, if they choose to see things through one view or they really don’t want to see things from my perspective then I feel no obligation to try to dissuade them. If they are invested in seeing me one way or my actions in a particular light then I am able to simply move on from them.
Perhaps the worst thing about how I responded previously was that I allowed peoples doubts and anger to turn me against myself. To doubt myself. To hate myself. My lack of confidence and self validation left me am easy target for anyone and everyone. I am sorry I allowed it for so long and I have had to work hard to correct it.
As someone who has health battles the opportunities to doubt myself and to turn on myself are constant. There are more people who will stand in your way, look down upon you, doubt you, ridicule you, mistrust you, trivialise you and shame you than there are people who will believe In you or support you. There are even fewer who will love you and stand by you through it all. These are also the factors that has led me to this point in my life and in my self belief.
I have had to stand up to and withstand the words, the hurt, the doubts, the ignorance and the selfishness of so many that it has shaped me into the person I am today and given me the ability to push aside those people and turn away from their beliefs. No matter who they are; friends, family or loved ones.
The online age we live in allows more and more people to share their opinions and comments about us without even having ever met us or know who we are. People are even more committed to putting others down in a race to seem better or more virtuous. It’s more and more competitive out there and empathy is not easily found.
I recall the example of one person who was committed to trivialising my struggle and making me appear as though I was simply looking for attention. I recall feeling so hurt and outraged by it all. I was especially disappointed because I share so little of the realities of my day to day struggle (even with my doctor!) that their actions and motives were so abhorrent to me. How could anyone do the things this person was suggesting? Worse still, how could anyone think the things that his person was thinking? I realised then that people who look down on us and believe the worst have a vested interest for doing so.
So, today, I remind myself what my mother told me many years ago about human nature and I also use this as a lesson to try to always think the best of myself, no matter what anyone else believes. It’s not for me to change peoples minds about me but for me to care more for my own well being than anyone else does. When we give credence to these people we take from ourselves.
For those out there who also struggle against the words and actions of those who look down upon you or judge you unfairly, I hope that you will also realise that you can either spend the rest of your life trying to change their minds (and you wont) or you can spend your life being more comfortable in your own beliefs.