Posted by: silverback | 2012/10/08


I had a good friend and spiritual advisor early in my recovery journey who was fond of saying, “What other people think of me is none of my damn business.” The first time he ever said this to me, a light bulb came on. I began to understand that many of my actions were based on what I thought people might think of me. I drank the way I drank often to be a part of some scene. I needed alcohol to lower my inhibitions because I felt that in general, people didn’t care to know me unless I could shine in some way – act more extemporaneously. I based most of my actions not on my own set of beliefs and values, but rather on what I thought others thought of me. It only made the painful rift inside – the reason I drank & used the way I did – even wider.

As I got more comfortable being a recovering alcoholic, I began to realize that I don’t really pay any attention to what most people are doing most of the time. It was another lightbulb moment when it became clear to me that most people are like me, despite my protestation that I’m much more special than you. If I wasn’t really cognizant or judgmental of how most others were acting at any given moment, then it followed that most people are paying no attention to me and what I’m doing. For me it was important epiphany to have, because it lifted the seeming unbearable weight of self-consciousness that I had carried since adolescence.

But this isn’t just about me. I recently went through a minor heartbreak with a woman who seemingly could not escape that burden of others’ opinions. As I look back, it is clear that for the entire duration of our brief, yet incredibly intense relationship, just about all of her actions – from the very outset – were shaped by what she believed others wanted or expected of her. Myself included. In fact, it becomes astonishingly clear that our thing began simply from the fact that she knew I had a crush…and it seems she felt obligated at some level to respond to that in a way that wouldn’t disappoint me. Despite the fact that we were not really compatible in our thinking or value systems.

My ego led me into dangerous emotional waters because I perceived myself as unique, despite the red flags. There were blatant warnings from friends. I was determined to get what I wanted enough to ignore all of them. My soul was hungry…but that’s another story for another day.

I played my part, for sure. She was a beautiful woman, and I was attracted. So I ignored many of the signs that the affair was doomed to come apart. I allowed my own needs to be sublimated by her desire to create a certain outward appearance. She kept me at a distance in public, because she was afraid of what people would say if they knew we were an item. For my part, I was infatuated enough to permit the subterfuge to continue. She came apart at times because it was impossible for her to balance fulfilling my needs as a partner and managing the imagined opinions of others in whatever situation we found ourselves.

It’s an important distinction to make – those imagined opinions. 

When I start to make assumptions about what others may be thinking about me or how they may be judging me, I’ve entered the realm of fiction. I’ve just stepped out of any version of reality, and have begun to create a story. It’s a story because I can never know what other people are thinking. If I begin to base my actions on those absolutely false assumptions, then I can never be true to my real self. I will never know what my true motives are. I will remain enslaved by fear – fear which is pure illusion.

What you think about me is none of my goddamned business. The converse of that is that what I may be thinking about you is also none of yours. Sorry to say, I’m probably not thinking much about you at all.



  1. My dear fellow rider,

    Welcome to the “Eyes wide open journey”….

    Move forward with hard learned clarity to provide your best….

    To your dear loved ones…



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