Second Opinions


Human beings are innately social creatures. From birth, we find ourselves belonging to a series of associations. We spend our lives striving to make connections, whether personally, professionally, or spiritually. Moving among family ties, peer groups,  work organizations, and interest based alliances, we spend our time interacting with others with whom we share a common interest.  As we traverse this endless cycle, it is only natural that we participate in building communities based on shared opinions.

Decision making is an inherent part of this process. Whether trivial or monumental, we make choices each day. In spite of the fact that we make most judgements as individuals,  there is something lurking in our DNA that often drives us to seek a second opinion on a variety of daily circumstances. Turning to others in our circles, we seek to validate our options, and in essence, share the responsibility.

Seeking another’s opinion happens every day. Some are almost inconsequential. Should we have fish for dinner? Or does this look good on me? Some delve deeper. Mom doesn’t look good. What do you think? Or I think something is up with this student. Have you noticed anything?  Still others gravitate to life-altering ones.  Sales are down. I think we need a new strategy. What do you suggest? Or the previous doctor said nothing more can be done. What is your opinion?

There are those of us that live in social structures which reinforce shared opinions. I come from a large family, and we often discuss choices and consequences as a group.  Opinions are shared, and although ultimately we each decide for ourselves, choices are made after considering the opinions of others. I also put this into practice with friends. We discuss different scenarios and possible outcomes of the various journeys life presents, and try to guide one another along the way.

Turning to others for advice may be evidence of self-doubt on some levels, but it all returns to the fact that we exist to live in conjunction with others. Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” Needing confirmation is part of what makes us human.

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