You know how people are constantly telling you not to listen to what other people say, and it’s only what you think about yourself that matters? I know I’ve been told it a million times, but, and I think Rousseau would agree, that little saying doesn’t work.
Much easier said than done, am I right?
Ideally, it would be perfect to completely block out the opinions of others and just listen to yourself, but that’s not a good idea! Now, I’m not sure I wholeheartedly agree with Rousseau’s idea that we are shaped solely through the opinions of others, but we do need those opinions! Naturally not all of those opinions others have about you are going to be good, but a lot of the times it comes as a surprise when you hear good things about yourself coming from an outside perspective. I think as humans we need others to be there to reaffirm us or to be honest with us when the time comes, but it doesn’t mean that what they say defines who we are and who we perceive ourselves as.
I’m a firm believer in the saying that we’re always going to be our own worst critic, namely because that’s the case for me and for a lot of the people I know. Could you imagine being stuck with your own criticizing thoughts 24/7, with no external input? That would be hellish. Sometimes you need those external views to be able to step back and look at yourself through someone else’s eyes, and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two you didn’t know. That doesn’t mean that how that person sees you defines who you are, because that thing they saw was already there. It just means that they brought it to light, and that now you can see it too and integrate it into your conscious mind.
All in all, it’s really just a combination of ourselves and the people around us that help us to understand ourselves better.