Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Are You What Others Think


I’ve done a lot of thinking over the last couple of days, been pretty introspective.  I’m a lot more vain than I realized.  As I pondered within myself why it is I feel the pull to continue an exercise which usually results in me questioning even more and having even fewer answers I’ve come to a startling conclusion.  I worry about what others think.

The big question is: why?  Why do I care so much what other people think of me?  I’d like to say it’s because I don’t want to disappoint them.  I’d like to say it’s because I don’t want to hurt them.  While that is partially true, it’s not entirely true.  I’ve built a reputation for myself.  I’m dependable, courteous, loving, caring, selfless, giving, kind, considerate and….I’m a staunch believer.  At least that’s who I was to most people.  If they knew that I doubt – not just doubt, but seriously question the tenets of the faith that they hold so dear they might think less of me.  Even if I’m all those other things – that’s still who I am.  They might shun me.  They might be angry with me.  Some of them quite possibly won’t *gasp* like me anymore.  And, well, how can anyone not like me? *grin* 

That’s just honesty.  Me being honest with myself.  That’s kind of hard to do, but it’s healthy.  I’ve kept a lot of thoughts and feelings to myself because of fear of what others might think.  But the hard, cold truth is I’ve got this one life – this one shot.  I want to make it count.  I want to be at peace with myself that I’ve lived it well.  Sometimes that might require letting go of worrying so much about what other people think and whether or not they like me.  If someone judges me that’s kind of their problem, right?

Now there are perfectly healthy reasons for worrying or caring what other people think.  Sometimes we can truly hurt others with our actions and attitudes. I will continue to live by the philosophy, “do unto others as you would have done unto you”.  That’s just practical and it’s common courtesy.  But as long as what I do hurts no one else, I’m going to try to be brave and dare to not worry about it so much.  I’ve been told that to be fully known and still loved is to be fully loved.  I’m about to test that theory. 

What about you?  What are the reasons you hide your thoughts and feelings?

11 thoughts on “Are You What Others Think

  1. Sometimes if I'm with friends or family who are fundamentalist Christians, I will not share some of my more, to them, liberal views relating to the interpretation of Scripture because I sense they are not asking the questions, and could not understand or receive what I would say.I try to sense an openness in the other person, if sharing my thoughts would be appropriate at that time or truly helpful. On the other hand, I don't want to hide who I really am, or pretend to agree when I don't. It is not always easy to find this balance.


  2. What harm can come of being honest about not believing? You expressed concern about hurting others. I encourage you to think a bit about how others can hurt you.I do not know your situation enough to know, but I will observe that in small communities, professed non believers have lost their jobs and been denied custody of their children. There can be real costs. Non believers are not burned at the stake anymore, but they may well suffer other persecution and shunning.Thus it can be optimal to be in the closet about this. The perceived dishonesty in this is hard to stomach. It is ironic that those arguing that they are the moral ones can with their power exact a toll for honesty.The ethics of weighing the cost to yourself of honesty versus continued access to employment and loved ones is certainly unpleasant.Only you can properly assess your situation. This sobering comment to you is only to let you know that perhaps unforeseen consequences can come about. I am not selling anything, just bringing to the fore other aspects for you to think about. I hope your circumstances make my concerns foolishness. More power to you in finding your own way. You go girl!


  3. I understand what you're saying, Becky. It's one of those things where you must feel nothing productive could come of your sharing your thoughts. It would probably cause more harm than good.


  4. Thank you for that perspective on it. And mostly, if I'm honest with myself – which is what I was getting at, my fear of sharing my current status is more for self-preservation than for anyone else's good. I have to weigh out when I think that hiding who I am does more harm than being open with it. I definitely don't plan to make some grand announcement or be brash or obnoxious about it. That's not my style anyway. I will continue to be selective with who I share that part of myself with. But as I've reflected over these last few days I've come to realize that I'm hiding more of myself than just my doubt and questions, also out of self preservation and habit. Having spent the last number of years hiding my thoughts and feelings from the very person I should have been able to share them with I've realized I've hidden a significant portion of my personality and identity. It was easier just to go into my shell and keep things to myself rather than deal with the fallout. I think I'm coming into my own and people are going to view me as having a change in personality, when really it's more me just being myself and being comfortable in my own skin.


  5. I think we are trained both by religion and certain aspects of culture to seek validation of our worth from external sources. As a result I believe a lot of discontent comes from the fact that we aren't being true to ourselves.On the other hand, I believe there is a lot of truth to the statement that we should not cast our pearls before swine. Ultimately, we need to be true to ourselves while wisely picking our battles.


  6. I think you're right about seeking validation of our worth from external sources. If I were the only person on the face of the earth, of what value would I be? We need community. I've been afraid to disrupt mine, afraid of being fully known.Ultimately, we need to be true to ourselves while wisely picking our battles. Amen and amen!


  7. There are so many secrets that we all keep, so many thoughts we all hide, it's common practice. I don't feel compelled to tell people everything that I have felt or thought. So when it comes down to the big issues, like religion, I just let the situation dictate the discussion.I hide my thoughts to not appear like a jerk or know-it-all or a militant atheist, or any number of other labels which can suddenly change an otherwise pleasant conversation into a heated confrontation. Hiding my lack of faith is just like hiding any other fact about myself which I regularly choose not to disclose to strangers and other relations.It's to a point where I don't think of it as "hiding" per se, but rather just being selective. I don't think of it as living a lie or a double life, as there is so much more to me than my lack of faith. That's just one tiny facet.However, some of this non-disclosure is for protection, as exrelayman suggests. I often work in deeply religious areas, and I can't afford to have fallout over (belief in) nothing. 😉


  8. You don't come across as a militant atheist in the least. And I think it's very wise to be selective in who we show our most intimate facets to. Not everyone should be privy to our deepest thoughts and feelings. There is no one except the Tour Guide that I've shared any of this with IRL. I think my introspection over that has more to do with my reasons for "hiding" than the actual hiding itself, if that makes any sense.


  9. I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for your thoughts and words of wisdom concerning this topic. This is such a delicate balance of knowing when is the right time to share and the right time to keep one's mouth shut. You've given me much food for thought and I think I'll keep my adopted position of "first do no harm". To others or myself. I'm not sure what good could come of being bold and brash with my questions and doubts anyway. It comes across as hostile, so that won't be my adopted path. Picking and choosing the right moments and the right people to share with is very important. Mostly this was a rambling thought of why I continue to go to a church where I know I'm not getting what I need, and won't be able to. The questions I have will be viewed as threatening and heretical. In honesty with myself I've continued to go because I'm afraid of what people will think if I don't. And I hadn't been ready to face the questions that I know will ensue when I stop attending.


  10. oh D'Ma I so understand you view on this! The very reason that my family thinks I have changed it because I'm actually becoming who I am now. Me at 33 with my life experiences.My immediate family knows, as you know, and for the most part it hasn't gone well with a select few(mom and brother).There are some in my family that I just flat out don't want knowing, because it would serve no purpose what so ever. That's how I feel about it in my community as well. My kids school don't need to know and if and when I ever return to work they don't need to know either. That's one of the reason's that I've never said my name on my blog. I don't want possible future employers to search me and find my blog. Where I live it would defiantly taint their opinion of me. It's sad but true.With that said I must be true to myself and not pretend that I'm something I'm not. I handle situations as they are presented to me.


  11. You hit the nail on the head TAW! I know I have to pick my battles and be cautious as to who I trust myself with, but it's nice to just be myself sometimes and not have to pretend. Mostly because I'm not very good at being fake. I'm just not a good pretender.


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