How many of us uttered this as children? We were on the playground and someone had decided that we needed a new nickname. Or we needed to be teased about our clothes. Or our family’s car. Or our weight, our glasses, the friends we kept, the fact that we liked to read, etc. Our only defense was often that little rhyme. And we hoped that if we said it enough, we’d believe it too.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I still remember mean things kids said to me in gradeschool that have an effect on how I view myself. And it’s not always a conscious thing. More often than not it’s in the back of my head, hiding behind the corner. But it’s still there and it still has an effect.

George Eliot is quoted as saying, “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?” Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case. Instead of making life easier, instead of being encouraging and using our words to lift one another up, we use them to tear others down. Sometimes we don’t even realize it’s what we’re doing. Sometimes the people we’re doing it to don’t realize it either. At least not on a conscious level.

I’ve been reading a book called ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell. He gives the reader an example of a test given by psychologist John Bargh. In the test, Bargh gives the patient a list of five-word sets and asks the patient to make a grammatical four-word sentence out of each set as quickly as possible. Most people are able to do this fairly quickly, taking no more than a few seconds on each set. After they are done, the patient is free to go. But when they leave, they are walking more slowly then when they came in. Why? Because each set of words contained a word that we associate with being old. (Ex. “shoes give replace old the”, “sky the seamless gray is”, “us bingo sing play let”) With that test, the psychologist was able to effect how his patients acted. Bargh also conducted a test where two groups were given two different lists. One list contained words that made the patients act in an aggressive manner and the second contained words that made them act patiently.

As I read this, I thought about the fact that I haven’t felt the need to blog anything of substance in awhile. I’ve mostly been posting youtube clips and things like that. But what I realized, after reading about the test, was that any time I’ve thought about blogging recently, I have felt extremely tired and unmotivated. I’ve had some ideas to blog on but once I thought about the act of actually blogging, I lost any will to do it. I started wondering why that is. Blogging isn’t a difficult task for me. I have no problems sitting down at the computer and writing down my thoughts. Then I realized that it’s not the actual act of blogging that had me wearied. It was what was sure to follow.

I’m used to criticism. I’m used to people not agreeing with me and not liking what I have to say. It’s part of being a writer or having any opinion whatsoever. On a conscious level, it doesn’t really bother me. I have always said that if you don’t like my blog, you don’t have to read it. What I didn’t realize was the subconscious effect people’s comments were having on me. Words like “unintelligent”, “ignorant”, “unimportant” have been peppered through people’s comments and while on a conscious level, I would think, “That’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it”, on a subconscious level the words were sinking in and effecting my behavior. Knowing the fights that were bound to ensue over something that people find unimportant exhausted me and made me unwilling to write anything. I didn’t want to put up with the snarking and the arguments and the pettiness. So while on one hand, my statement is still true and I don’t care what people think of what I have to say, on the other hand, my subconscious does. Or at any rate it tucks away what they think and takes it into consideration before I act.

Perhaps my subconscious was taking Plato into consideration instead. “Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” 🙂

Whatever the case, now that I have realized the cause of my apathy toward blogging, I’m not going to let it bother me consciously or subconsciously. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what I say or do or think or believe. If I let them stop me, then I will never live my life the way I’m meant to. If my actions, thoughts and words are based on the approval of others, then my life is not my own. If you don’t like what I have to say, that’s just fine. Comment on it, blog about it, post it on a message board. It won’t stop me from writing anymore.

“Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” – Les Brown