We need protection — from voices.

Two potentially harmful voices come to mind.

The first one is our own.

When I finished my first year of professional teaching, I said to myself, “I hate this! I feel like a failure. I want to quit.” My own voice didn’t  offer good guidance. Fortunately my father, in a phone conversation about this,  said to me,  “Now you know how your students feel. Many of them  feel like failures. Now you know.”

That was a good voice, and I went on from there, following the leading of that voice to teach, until now, and I like it. When I finally do quit teaching, I think I’d like keep teaching,  part-time  —  for fun!

My own voice was suspect. This is hardly rare. Most of us have experienced bad feedback,  from ourselves, concerning ourselves.

Beware your own whining and sulking and quitting-talk.

The second kind of voice to avoid is the voice of the unwise family member or friend.  Family members — they don’t always get us right. Over time they tend to stereotype us.  “Well she always has been a bit edgy, or sad or dominant or shy,” or whatever they come to label us. Others in the family, may concur, and the label may stick, when it shouldn’t.

Friends are often also unwise voices in our lives. In giving feedback, friends tend to simply project their own reactive, unresolved feelings onto our situations. We need to face this; most people aren’t great counselors.  If they hate men, they hate our man. If they hate women, they hate our women. If they don’t resolve their own conflicts well, they won’t resolve ours well either.

What to do?

Pick mentors carefully.

Find people who have life experience, good and bad, people who have been able to resolve conflicts, who have learned something about healthy boundaries, who have had some long-lasting relationships, who have raised some kids (and the kids still love them), who have been successful in their careers but who have also gone through some career-hell and come out still feeling like life is some kind of heaven, who know something about God, something along the lines that God loves us and will never, ever stop loving us.

There are many voices. The world is full of talk. The deal is to learn which voices are safe and which ones aren’t, which voices to tune out, and which ones to listen to when we are losing our way a bit.

This is one of those things to figure out, to get right, to get a handle on, to give some time to.

The right voice, the right answer, the wise counsel — it’s beautiful!

It’s protection.

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