How to react calmly when people don’t respect my choices

Nov 13, 2022

I Learned to Respect People’s and Kids’ Individual Choices and Prefereces

I went through a stage where I was so mad at everyone for telling me to do the same things they did I couldn’t even be around those people. Truth is I never told them, but I was full of anger and frustration toward them.

But sometimes it was even strangers that inadvertently would do it while checking out at the store.

Then I started to realize that a big part of the reason why others tend to impose their individual beliefs on others was because they hadn’t learned that some choices are just up to an individual to make and no one else has the right to say anything to them about it.

I knew that and that was all that mattered. I learned to be more sad for those who didn’t understand that rather than mad at them for their comments that only proved that they hadn’t learned that truth.

At some point in time I also had walked that path.

I long time ago, more like in my early twenties, I used to judge everyone’s choices that were different than mine. I didn’t know how to have a relationship with someone who had a different opinion than mine. I thought I had to agree on everything with my spouse or my friends in order to be friends.

Seeing the world this way makes us gravitate to friendships where others only view things as we are or nothing. It also makes it hard to have any discussion where we have a difference of opinion with others without turning it into a heated conversation or a non discussable topic all together. It also makes us closed minded to things that perhaps we didn’t know or didn’t think of that could improve the quality of our own life.

Things will only get worse with our own children. Because if we believe they must like and do what we did, and be just like us we will only find that our children will have to hide from us in order to live a fulfilling life, or they will avoid us all together.

How I have worked on learning to respect people’s individual choices in their lives. 

As a parent I have struggled to understand why my kids liked different past times and career choices than mine.
As a grown up I have had to learn how to respect other people’s choices that weren’t necessarily bad, just their personal preferences.

As a kid I always heard people say that we need to learn to respect other people’s opinion. Trust me when I tell you though that I came from a background where I didn’t see a lot of that. I have watched many people in my life argue over politics, which pasta brand is the best, or the amount of kids one should have.The list goes on.

I wanted to break free from that. But I seriously thought only will power and avoiding certain topics with anyone we disagree with on something could be the solution to difference in opinions.

For a long time up to my early 20’s I didn’t know how to distinguish between what was a rule or a choice. 

I thought everything always fell eventually in the category of a rule. 

So whenever I was facing a new choice about whether to determine if something was good or bad, I would do my research, study, pray, do whatever it took to come to my conclusion, thinking eventually I’d find an undeniable and uncotenstable universal truth.

Basically I believed that if I wasn’t sure about something, if I did enough research eventually I would find whether it was right or wrong. 

In my 20’s I started hearing more and more that things aren’t quite like that. 

You might already be questioning how wrong this is. How would you decide if you should go left or right in politics, or be a democrat or republican for example. Most people will still argue that there is one  true side only. 🙂 The list of topics that can be controversial has only gotten worse over the years.

The world is a little bit more complex than that. Hence why we can never seem to agree on things on many different topics. In medicine, as countries, different cultures. the list of polarizing topics goes on from a broad range of topics to the simplest day to day decisions.

In the world there are so many ways one can get lost making choices. From a larger scale to a smaller one.

There are also rules. And then there are personal choices. 

There are religious beliefs and commandments, and there are also personal decisions that one must make based on their own circumstances, limitations, strength and personal knowledge. Decisions that should be made with your best intentions and wisdom.

When it comes to religion, that is where one would think at least there would be less division. But that is still not the case.

Even during the time of Jesus amongst the Jews themselves there were so many groups of polarizing parties with different beliefs.

Ultimately He came to answer some of those questions about the chaos. And then left us the gift of His atonement which I like to categorize as a little insurance and room for error since He knew eventually we would be left to our devices and making our own decisions once again. Sometimes wise ones, and sometimes just plain stupid ones.

Particularly in many Christian religions we have the Ten Commandments as guidance. We also have the scriptures with many answers to many questions.

The path to Heaven is narrow, but even within that path there is lots of room for individual choices. 

For example, in my Church we believe our body is a temple. But what does it mean to each of us individually. The answers to this one alone will vary.

Multiple and replenish the earth. But when should I have them? How many children should I have? Why if I cannot have any? What if I am sick and don’t feel I can do it?

As a kid I just didn’t know that the world wasn’t as mechanical.

As a grown up I meet many people that yet still believe things to be exactly that way. The way this is expressed will often come with comments such as:

I have had X amount of kids. So should everyone else. And if they didn’t… well too bad for them. I do this X career, it’s the absolute best and everyone who doesn’t… sucks for them.

Once I understood that everyone’s situation is very much individual, it made me less judgemental of others. 

It made me want to impose less on others the things that I chose in my life. Even if they made me happy and I loved them. Because I recognized that everyone has their own individual preferences. Everyone has their own history that has made them who they are and is affecting them in a different way. 

It allowed me to leave more room to choose things that I personally enjoyed more and respect what others loved or chose instead. 

It allowed me to live life on my own lane and not even need to look left and right at what others were doing and question the car I was in.

It makes me super frustrated now when I see others trying to impose their ways and choices on others. Whether those comments are made by trying to impose the number of kids one should have, or the house they should buy, or which career one chooses and how they spend their time.  

I have to take a lot of deep breaths when someone makes those comments now.

The room and space for individual choices and as to why one makes them is very large. 

I believe that it was the way God intended for us to let our own individuality shine.

It leaves room in reality for one to pursue what they like rather than having everyone pursue the same things.

It also allows us to understand why our own kids are different than us and like different things compared to ourselves even though they are raised in our own households. It has allowed me to respect more their hobbies, pursuits, past times, and the way they find joy on a day to day bases.

I have learned to say YES to their requests when they tell me they want to go to a roller coaster park on their birthday even though I absolutely hate it, and I wish I could take a Valium before entering the park to deal with the anxiety of the rides and the annoyance of the long lines under the hot sun. But to them is fun even though to me it’s the equivalent of death.

Because we are different and that is ok. Because I love them I accept their preferences and we take turns doing what we love at different times.

Personal tastes and preferences are the reason why we are all so different and the only thing holding us back is the fact that we often don’t appreciate that about others. We often don’t let others pursue their own personal hobbies, or what they know it’s best for themselves. We criticize what is different than our path and our own personal moral compass, preferences,  risk thresholds, or tolerance level.

I like to think that in a way we were born with certain passions and desires because they are a guide for us of what we can pursue and love to do in this life.

Those passions will change in life as we grow and age. That is ok. Thank goondness that not everyone wants the same thing. Thank goodness that everyone has a different role.

It’s only unfortunate that this world sets rankings and different pay levels for different careers and different positions and choices.I wish every job paid the same because I truly think we would be surprised as to what kind of careers are completely taken for granted right now and everyone would probably flock to all of a sudden.

So I have learned that whether one likes a boat or to ski, or feels it’s best to have 1 kid or 7, as long as they aren’t destroying the planet, other people’s lives or their own, some choices are truly a personal preference not a universal truth.




Some of them have been:

“I had 5 kids, you have 4. You need just 1 more.” 

Other the years I met many people who I could tell thought that others either thought others should be  exactly like them, and do everything like them. 

they couldn’t resist criticizing in return or would rather distance themselves from others who weren’t like them. 

I need it often. People telling others they should pursue what the person giving the advice pursued. 

Respect others journey and stop judging who’s doing something different than you. 

Stop asking others to do what you do. 

The path to heaven is narrow, but there is also room for individuality and personal tastes. 

Some expect others to do exactly what they did or they assume they must be wrong.

We have freedom on many aspects of life even in within the confinements of a religion with its own set of rules. That freedom is each person’s individual gift to choose what to do with their extra personal time and choices. 

Everyone’s path and choices and preferences will be different. As long as you are loving others and spreading joy and doing good and being happy use that freedom. It is not up to us to determine how one used that. 

Life isn’t a one box fit all type of journey. 

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Serena Essuman


Serena Essuman

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