What Other People Think of You is None of Your Business
One of the character defects on which I have to work is obsessing about others’ opinions of me. I have wasted an inordinate amount of my lifetime trying to guess what other people are thinking, assuming I know what they are thinking, and, in general, projecting my feelings onto others.
In recovery, I have, as much as possible, put those thoughts to the side. In the very early days, I simply did not have the mental energy to waste. Now, at 142 days, as life has become so much more peaceful, it actually takes a bit more effort to manage this defect.
When life is completely chaotic, fear takes up the bulk of mental space. But when life becomes more “normal,” it can be easy to slide into old mental habits, such as monitoring the tone of someone’s voice, or the look on their face, and then deciding I know exactly what they are thinking, and then oh-my-God-what-I am-going to-do-about-this, what are they saying to others… you get the idea.
So now, when I experience this backslide into old ways of thinking, I must, first, realize that this is what I am doing. The realization alone is a huge improvement for me, but it is not enough. The next step, after the realization, is to use the tools I have gained from recovery, and apply them to my unproductive thought processes.
First, I must remind myself that everyone’s thoughts, emotions, and attitudes do not revolve around me. So to assume that someone’s bad mood, or odd tone of voice has to do with me, is completely self-centered and in all probability false.
Second, if someone is not coming to me with a problem they are having, then what they are thinking is none of my business. This is proving to be a hard lesson for me to learn, but life is about progress, not perfection, and all I can do is try my best.
Because, at the end of the day, what people are feeling and thinking is completely out of my control… they are going to choose their thoughts and feelings, the same way I am going to choose mine. If I choose to let go of the worry about others, I will feel more serene, and their thoughts will still be theirs.