Social media has really changed the way we can all share our voice. No matter your interest, you can have a platform to share your ideas, thoughts, and opinions.
At first I was pretty excited about the opportunity to share my own voice. But what I discovered was that rather than feeling good about sharing any wisdom, I fell into the trap of needing people to agree with my opinion.
This often happens when we feel compelled to share our opinions with people who didn't ask for them.
There is a truth around sharing opinions that every salty old codger I've ever known has shared with me:
Opinions are like.... er... the anus... everyone has one.
Reasons we share opinions:
We want to be of help:
We may have experience in a particular situation that could be helpful to someone else.
To get approval:
When we share our opinion, and everyone comments on how smart we are, we get a little hit of dopamine. That's a hormone that makes us feel happy. The downside to this is that we become addicted to seeking approval to receive more hits of dopamine.
We need to be right:
We hear that someone has an opinion that differs from ours. So we decide we need to jump in and correct them. We'll feel the need to share our opinion and set them straight. We'll rarely change their mind, however, everyone that already agrees with us will jump in and comment on how smart and wonderful we are, and how anyone who disagrees with us must be a total moron. And of course, that gives us another dopamine hit.
When we are sharing our opinion with others for the wrong reasons, we cease to be a source of wisdom. And the difference comes down to this: We share for someone else's sake or we share for the sake of our own agenda (needing to be right or get approval).
When we are sharing for the sake of others, at some point in our interaction, we've received an invitation to share. Someone may be curious, or seeking answers, and they want to hear about our experiences.
Being invited into this interaction is an honor, and we show respect by sharing without an agenda. This gives the other person the freedom to receive our opinion, or our wisdom, with discernment.
In my own experience, when I've shared my opinion for the sake of hearing my own voice, and needing to be the smartest person on the internet, it never feels like I'm bringing more light and kindness into this world.
We don't have to know everything about everything. Most of us are not experts when it comes to viruses or politics. And our opinion about those things don't really matter. What makes us a force for good in this world is how we show up with each other, regardless of our opinions.