7.08.2006

Toxic addiction

This one's going to be jumbled; bear with me.

I'm obsessed with criticism. I need to know what other people think about me, my life, my work, and most of all, my religion. There are message boards where people 'recover' from being a Mormon. There are message boards where people 'discuss' the most sacred tenets of my beliefs. Worst of all, there are blogs where people raise the banner of free thought and open-mindedness and then bitterly and virulently criticize every facet of Church doctrine. (It bugs the snot out of me that if you do some 'critical thinking' as it's called and then draw a conclusion other than what the rest of the free thinking world draws, then you obviously haven't thought it through very critically. But that's another blog.)

My addiction lies in how much mental energy I devote to thinking about what is said. I don't waste hours on the internet reading what people say negatively about my Church. On the contrary, I've recently gotten pretty good at realizing that you can't shut a critic up. But the conversation lives on in my head and it's hard to get it out. Now it's a regular voice inside me that forces me to look at things from a cynical viewpoint, just so I make sure I'm ready for whatever 'discussion' a person would like to have with me.

It's like I need to know that I have an answer for any criticism, but I know that's impossible. I don't know why I do it. Like I said, I don't think it's possible for a person to answer every single question another could have about any subject in particular, more importantly the choices that make you who you are. I believe we choose who we are (see As a Man Thinketh by James Allen) either directly or indirectly. However, lots of the reasons why we act the way we do are beyond us. There are so many repercussions to our actions that I deem it the mark of a wise man to explore as many of them as he can before making a choice. (Or woman, if you're reading this Cyl. Lord knows I don't want to be guilty of feminine persecution. *grin*)

So a long time ago, I don't know when, I began to make choices that resulted in my desiring other people to mark a stamp on approval of what I was doing. Even now, when I do my part at work or I finish a lab, a little red flag goes up that says "Take this and have it checked to make sure you're right." When there is no one to make sure that I'm right, or the right answers are debated or not agreed upon (like in religion) I can't help but listen to the opposite side to see if they're right. It's no more different than "Hey, did you do #15 on the probablity assignment? How'd you do it?" as far as my subconcious works.

But I don't like it. When I do seek approval, there always seems to be a group committee inside my head (I'll explain that in a later blog) that stands up and says "Six, stand up for yourself, man! Sprout some and stand by your work!"

I'm trying, guys, I'm trying.

3 comments:

ubercyl said...

I have some thoughts about all of this but I'll just tell them to you next time we hang with you and Mrs. Sixline.

Eeyore said...

Consider, what those who want you to be open-minded really want is for you to open you mind, accept their idea, then close it again. They are a contradiction all of themself. A truely open-minded person is known as an idiot, because he will believe nothing and will never make a decision.

So the next time you meet someone that tells you you need to be more open minded, just tell them they're an idiot. I know that's not how they mean it, but if they're not even smart enough to get that right, who gives a rip what they have to say?

Shaun said...

Well, quite often the problem is that people aren't open-minded enough, though. The irony is that some people have become so open-minded that they have become close-minded. What I mean is that they refuse what the mainstream might say or think as being ignorant while embracing every other possibility as being acceptable.

I know how you feel about wanting other approval on what you're doing. It's a really nice feeling to be going forward on something and everyone thinks that you're doing a great job. If others agree with what you're doing, it becomes less likely that it's wrong. Before someone might take offense to that, may I remind that "in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (D&C 128:3). Of course, there will be times when one must go it alone and trusting only to one's own judgment on the correctness of his course of action is dangerous.

What I think being open-minded means is accepting that other people will think differently than you on a topic, behave differently, or believe differently and being able and willing to work out differences. Compare this to close-minded people who instead seek to squelch any opposing voice or persecute others on any level for being different. Every one has the right to make their own decisions and think the way they wish.

I firmly believe we can all live together in relative harmony if we can accept the fact that it is okay for someone else to behave differently than we do. It's okay to have dissent as long as each person is willing to work with every other person, compromise when necessary, and respect each's decision.