I used to be really, really bad about it. Up until about two and a half years ago, in fact, if any opinion of mine was challenged by anybody I viewed as more important than me- 90% of society, as I had a crappy self-image- my opinion would be immediately discarded.
It was not a good pattern to follow. I couldn't be me- more like a template for others to mold to their views. But I was afraid of being rejected for that.
Not entirely stupid; in fact, a reasonable concern. But a seriously detrimental one- I was changing myself for others, with no regard as to the real concequences to myself. I'd always agree- just to avoid being ostracized.
Not that I wasn't ostracized anyway, for reasons I still haven't determined. Probably because my very strong anti-violence opinions and respect-others opinions would not, and will not, be chanced. I still treat others with respect, and violence still makes me ill.. (I spent most of 9/11/02 puking.)
In retrospect, it was a mistake.
For about two years, I've mostly changed that. I don't step down if I had any particular reason to come up with the opinion unless I have as good a reason to drop my side. I enjoy debate- a rational, reasonable debate where all parties come away with new ideas, instead of an argument.
Timelined? That two years would be about when I started giving myself some credit, and changing my self image to "worthwhile." More timeline? Six months after I started Science Center work. Draw your own conclusions.
I've found there are about four possible results to my expressing my opinion, and my reasons for it:
1. I get rejected for it.
2. I end up in an interesting debate, with all parties, including me, coming away with new ideas and opinions.
3. I rock someone's mind with an angle or view he/she had never thought of.
4. I am disproven.
Quite frankly, #3 scares me the most. I prefer answer 2- answer 3, the metaphorical slap in the face, is my goal when someone's done something dangerous, but not otherwise. I don't like being considered that right, especially when my opinion is a 180 from the expressed opinion of the other.
As has happened on a Portal of Evil-related debate on another one of my message boards- that wound up totally changing someone's self-image and belief system. Better or worse? Beats me. Nothing to do about it now but sit back and watch- and try to repair some of the damage.
If I did any.
But those changes make things very interesting- #2 makes us all smarter, #3 is usually weird, #4 is good for me to know where I'm wrong. #1 is a good chance for me to reevaluate a relationship.
But the negative effects are completely avoidable. All I have to do is sell out and surrender my opinions and views.
I've been there. It just doesn't work- you wind up someone else, not you.