Stefanie Edwards Marketing Coach

challenged viewpoints

How will you respond when someone challenges your thoughts?

Reality is the cumulation of what happens to you, what someone says or does, the circumstances around you. When reality challenges your beliefs, it can create tension that causes you to react. 

You react because you feel opposition against your way of thinking. 

Maybe what someone says makes you feel like you are wrong and you don’t like how that feels. Maybe a new policy makes you feel threatened because it takes away something you have enjoyed doing. Whatever it is that comes along – and things are always coming along – you have to decide how you will respond. 

Will you… 

  1. Be open to a new way of thinking
  2. Will you hear out the opposing viewpoint while remaining neutral. All the while acknowledging that everyone is free to have their own perspective.
  3. Will you react and feel defensive of your way of thinking. 

Three different responses. Three very different results for your life. 

Let’s break this down so you have a better understanding of how this can work in your life. 

I recently saw this video clip of actress Kristin Bell. She was explaining the journey of her career. One of her opening comments was about how she kept getting rejected for parts she auditioned for because casting directors would say she wasn’t pretty enough to be the lead and she wasn’t awkward enough to be the quirky side character. That type of comment could have shut her down. She could have retreated to her home in Michigan and given up her dreams of acting, citing the evidence that she wasn’t pretty enough for Hollywood. That could have been her “truth” and her friends and family would have rallied around her, defended her, and supported her next career choice that didn’t involve making a living with her face front and center. 

That is a reality that many people accept. Not just in acting but in all career fields. I was told over and over when applying for jobs after my internship that I was overqualified for the role. So then I would apply to what I considered the next tier of jobs in my field only to be denied an interview because I wasn’t qualified enough. Which was it? It couldn’t be both ways. And thankfully, I was able to see that contradiction and forge out my own directive based on my actions. 

Actress Kristen Bell did the same. She kept auditioning and as she worked through her early roles, she made connections and found stepping stones to keep moving forward. She believed she was lead character material and fairly early on in her career she landed the lead on a TV series. That gave her a connection to take on a future role right after her show was cancelled. She also talked about a failed audition for the Disney animated movie Tangled, that led to a connection that landed her the role in Frozen. And because she was in mind early on in the development of Frozen, Princess Anna’s personality mirrored a lot of the personality traits of Kristen Bell. A much bigger role, with much bigger results. 

Being turned down for Tangled was definitely the better move for her career, as Frozen became a mega hit for Disney and pushed Kristen’s career to new heights. 

You see our thoughts create the foundations for our belief system. And what we believe to be true manifests itself in our lives because of how we take action in our lives. That is why people who start to believe and then continue to foster negative beliefs about themselves, forever feel that life is out to get them. They continually have evidence that things are falling apart, are too hard, too much to handle, etc. 

They have learned to just accept those thoughts as truth for their life and don’t challenge them when they come up. I am encouraging you today, to challenge the thoughts in your head. Look at them and decide if they serve you or not. 

How do you know if your thoughts serve you? 

Are they helping you accomplish something, achieve something, become something? 

Or are they holding you back, keeping you small, making you think less of yourself? 

And now let’s get back to our original conversation on how you respond when someone challenges your beliefs. 

We looked at the example of Kristen Bell being challenged on her appearance. But what if someone challenges you on your intellect – what you actually think? What if someone calls you about your leadership – stressing that their way is better? What if someone challenges your career – and questions whether you deserve that promotion? How do you respond when what you believe about yourself if brought into question? 

Remember the three options. 

  1. You can remain neutral, hear the other person’s comments and feedback and acknowledge that as their mind working. You do not have to take it on and make it mean something about you. Think of their thoughts as the creation of a new hat. You can take the hat from them and wear it around so that it becomes apart of you or you can just pass and not give it another thought. Really and truly, what others have to say about you does not have to impact who you are.
  2. On the other hand, there might be a time when you hear someone’s feedback and decide that there is some merit and value in what they have to say that you are open to taking on a new viewpoint. You might ask questions to learn more and open your mind to the new possibilities. This is always an option. Sometimes this happens to me when I am reading a book, listening to a podcast, or having a conversation. Sometimes I exclaim, “that just blew my mind.” Because literally I feel like I have just been shown a mirror to see myself for the first time. This new way of thinking is something I had never considered and it is a revelation to me. I enjoy those moments.
  3. The last way of approaching an opposing viewpoint is to see it as a challenge to yourself. Something that you need to fight back against. Many times we do that because we as humans do not like to be wrong. If someone challenges the way we think we feel the need to defend ourselves and our position because we can’t bear to wrong. But y’all that is not always the right choice. Sometimes there are things you are willing to go to the mat and fight over but does every comment have to set you off? Is it necessary to defend yourself against strangers making flippant comments as you pass? Or can you find your confidence within yourself and learn how to pass by in neutrality against opposing views? 

In closing, I want to encourage you to take time when someone or something challenges the way that you think. Write down what thoughts are coming up for you, what is triggering you and how it makes you feel. Look at what you wrote down and try to look at it objectively to see if you are okay fighting against it, if it is something you can just let roll on and not have to deal with, or if this is something you would like to embrace and take on. 

Stopping to look at your thoughts before you respond and lose your cool or complicate situations can help you maintain healthier relationships and boundaries. 

Until next time, blessings to you!