On Opinions About Opinions

I gotta level with you. I dropped the ball this week. It was my kid’s second week of spring break, and so he was around the house A LOT. Which tends to cramp my style, writing and routine-wise. And so I didn’t prepare my blog ahead of time.

But, if you’ll indulge me for just a few minutes, I think the little insight I’m about to offer might help to give you an extra piece of the peace of mind we’re all searching for.


I used to get myself pretty stressed out in the days leading up to a trip back home to visit my extended family in South Louisiana. The reason was because, basically, I was a know-it-all. I didn’t realise it, of course . . . but that’s what I was. An “enlightened” person who had it all figured out, just waiting for everyone else to catch up.

Despite my cocksure perspective, I found myself filled with dread that one of my less enlightened family members would say something abhorrent and stupid in my presence, and righteousness would then force me to take a stand. Oh yeah, that was me. I had it bad.

I’m going to skip past the moment of awakening when I–slowly, as I learn all things–discovered that my shit does, in fact, stink just like everybody else. Because I want to get to the practical part of this little confession . . .

Everything changed for me when this little mantra popped into my feeble mind: don’t have an opinion about somebody else’s opinion.

Once that sank in, something wonderful happened. Anxiety and stress gave way to an emotion that’s WAY more fun. Curiosity.

Instead of rebutting, arguing, or trying to influence, what I do now is try to unpack the why in everything. And as a result, I’ve had some fascinating conversations with people who, it always turns out, are way more interesting that I might have imagined.

I’ve learned that why a person holds a particular perspective is usually more interesting than what that perspective actually is. When you seek to understand the layers of life experience and embedded details that make up the tip of the iceberg that is what an individual believes, the conversation is always fruitful.

And as a writer, this trick pays HUGE dividends. Think about it: as readers, when we dig into a character, what we’re really interested in is why she did a particular thing. We want to understand both the psychology behind the action and the specific life-experiences that motivated that action.

We want to go deeper. And a real easy way to train yourself to start digging in to the fascinating characters that surround you is, don’t have opinions about their opinions. Instead, ask why . . . and then listen as the real story unfolds.

See you next week!

Published by New Bayou Books

Jason P. Reed started New Bayou Books to spark a revolution in South Louisiana literature. The goal of the company is two fold: to discover great new writers from Acadiana while building a global community of readers and listeners. Join us! Sign the enlistment form.

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