During my Instagram surfing time this morning, I ran across the following quote by Steve Jobs posted by one of my favorite poetesses and member of the Deep Thinker Tribe, Raven Sym:
Now anyone who knows me knows that my superpower is being myself; raw, honest, and free. My inspiration came from my first English professor, Dr. R. Patterson-Shabazz, who shared the concept of KNOW THYSELF (Yeeees, that class was LIT!). From there my interest in the concept grew as another of my former English professors and current mentor, Dr. John Ronan, introduced me to the works of Ralph W. Emerson’s essay, “Self-Reliance”, which emphasizes the power of trusting oneself. From there it really began to take root, and I made it my mission to emphasize that concept in my life and share it with others. This is not to be confused for an attitude of not needing anyone or not allowing any outside opinions to enter our space. Instead, it is a call for the compulsory act of self-awareness.
Seeing the Jobs quote this morning led me to some streams of thought, one of which stood out very prominently: we must be careful what and whose opinions we allow to take root as some opinions, good and bad, come with an agenda. Good opinions may come with the motive of trying to curry favor for personal gain or earn false trust for the purpose of exploitation. Remember, Jesus was betrayed with a kiss. This is why the Bible tells us in so may places not to be given to flattery (Proverbs 26:28 and 29:5-6, Psalm 55:21 and 62:4). It’s fine to take a compliment, but we must not make it our daily bread as it may cause us to form alliances with strange bedfellows and thus ensnare us.
On the flip side, bad opinions come with agendas, too. Sometimes the motive is jealousy or a person’s projection of their insecurities. For example, a person’s criticism that you are doing too much may be a projection of the fact that they wish they had the same work ethic and freedom of choice. This is not a cause to believe everyone is a hater, because not going along to get along saves lives. However, in all of that it is very important to consider the source. Sometimes the venom people spew is a result of their opinion of their own selves.
And this is where self-awareness comes in. We need not block out what we hear, but we must have enough sense of self to know what to take and what to leave. I always tell people it’s not just the words we should listen to but also the motive behind them. My sister told me that she has learned to take things with a grain of salt, as everything we hear is not really what we hear. This is why the Bible admonishes us in James: 1:19 to be slow to anger because things may not be what they seem. But when we know what we’re looking at, we must govern ourselves accordingly. We must give ourselves permission to have the last word on who we are. Ultimately, my mantra is I am who God says I am, and that’s the story I stick with!
Like I said, short and sweet. We’re done!