So what should I do about the peanut gallery?
Whether you're looking for it or not, everybody's got an opinion. And they will tell you whether you want them to or not. I've found this to be particularly true with writing and parenting. Your mom thinks she knows exactly how to make your 5 year old eat their broccoli, and your critique group knows why your main character is a snot. Sometimes all you can hear is one big cacophony. The trick is knowing which voices to listen to, and which to nod politely to and tune out.
"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge."
Daniel J. Boorstin
We can and must learn from those around us otherwise our life and works would never improve. But not every Tom, Dick, and Sally is an expert on what will work in your life. I used to treat everything others said as expert testimony, trying to implement each and every tip and trick. Now I treat the peanut gallery like peanuts. I get out the good stuff, and then throw the shells away.Well, how the heck are you supposed to do that? Here's what works for me.
1. I let down my defenses
2. I hear, not just listen to what the person has to say.
3. I openly consider the value of the information
4. Decide whether or not it is practical or would make an improvement in my situation.
5. Pick out the nuts that have merit
6. And MOST importantly toss out the ones that don't. Throw them away and never think of them again.
#6 is the key for me at least. I have to let go of the words that hurt my feelings. Here's a little example.
I was with my 5 year old in the supermarket when she threw a HUGE fit over not getting a candy bar. So what did I do? I put her in time out, on the spot, right next to the candy aisle. And of course, someone had to tell me what a horrible mother I was to let my child scream and scream. Not so long ago I would have taken those thoughtless words and carried them around with me. They would have weighed down my heart and made me question my own worth as a parent. Today I know better. I followed the steps above, sincerely considering if I had made a bad choice, decided I was doing the right thing for my kid and discipline style, then tossed out the shells of the peanut gallery's advice. After the time out I felt good, and I felt like a good mommy for sticking with the plan I had set out, even though it was embarrassing.
So that's my two cents on the peanut gallery. If you want more from my little corner of the world you can visit my other blog's posts today. Workout Barbie and the List.
Until next time, feel free to suggest your own topics for So What. Next week I will have a special guest, don't miss it!