Photo Credit: @steve_j

We Are Not Our Opinions

Over the last few months, there’s something that has increasingly been difficult to tolerate, namely intolerance. I see it in my social feed. People being offensive and people being offended. I’ve seen it in myself too. I’ve found myself becoming offended as I read opposing viewpoints on my social media feed. It’s nothing new, but I continue to see intolerance around me. And so I ask that very simple question that we can all ask to understand the world around us. Why?

Why is there so much intolerance?
Why does Facebook increasingly turn into heated arguments? Why are bridges burned over seemingly frivolous comments? The answer is simple.

We confuse our opinions for our identity. The truth is that we are not our opinions. Psychologically, we tell ourselves that a rejection of my opinion is somehow a rejection of me, of who I am. The philosopher Descartes once said, “I think, therefore I am.” In other words, “I am because I think,” not, “I am what I think.”

We confuse our opinions for our identity. The truth is that we are not our opinions.

Here’s a simple test to illustrate you are not your opinions. If I were to ask you, “who are you’, how would you respond? The typical answer would begin with “I am…” Who are you? I am a husband. I am a father. I am a member of… It would be rather odd to answer that question with “I think…” or “My opinion is…”

Who we are
Why do we attach our opinions to our identity? We do this because we do not know who we are. And if we do know who we are, then we have forgotten at that moment. The core of our identity lies within the relationships of our lives. Our relationships are our commitments and our commitments give us purpose.

One relationship at the root of each of our identities is that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father. You are a child of God, I am a child of God. That means we are spiritual brothers and sisters. This relationship means I have a commitment to you.

How can I fulfill my purpose as your brother if I push you away because your opinion differs from mine? To define ourselves by our opinions doesn’t truly reveal who we are. It limits us because opinions evolve. They are formed over years of interactions and experience. Many times, they are simply borrowed. And guess what? They change. How frustrating it would be to change our identity like we change our opinions? Fortunately, our identity is eternal, our opinions are not.

Let’s remember that our opinions are a culmination of our knowledge and experiences. They are subject to change and we have a responsibility to understand the person behind the opinion.

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Brian Collier

Brian Collier

54 Followers

Child of god, husband, father, son, brother, curious by nature , designer, brander, long-distance runner, intrigued by religion, comedy, philosophy, psychology.