Opinions can be hurtful when shared. They are often best left unspoken. This idea of keeping one's opinions to themselves is the antithesis of the Internet, and therefore so much of our contemporary lives. But consider this: Opinions are judgments that many people have not learned to keep to themselves. When aired about others, they become gossip. Though not everyone will agree, many argue, there is no gain in gossip, only damage.
It is empowering to let someone know that while they are free to believe what they want about a person or situation, it is better kept unspoken. Everyone then becomes freer and can focus on unification and fellowship, rather than pulling others down to build up a damaged and broken ego.
“A New Pair of Glasses” by Chuck “C” (1984) is a popular book in 12-step communities. It is written from a transcript of a talk given over several days in a group setting by Chuck “C”, a much-respected member of Alcoholics Anonymous. In this book, the author repeatedly states, "what you think of me is none of my business."
This phrase is repeated in meetings of many 12-step groups, but its original meaning and context have become eroded over time. In stating this phrase, the spirit in which Chuck C uses it is to free himself from attempting to please or placate others by behaving in ways or talking in ways that will make him popular with that person or persons.
There is a tremendous amount of freedom in this phrase for those in substance use recovery. People sometimes suffer intense self-absorbed egocentrism, we may take center stage and perform for others. What happens quite often is that we lose track of who we are. We put much energy into being liked by everyone that we forget what we stand for and what we truly care about.
In finding a sense of identity in recovery, we begin to acquaint ourselves with who we are. This can be scary as we realize that there will be people who don’t like some of our ideas and beliefs.
For people who have many people-pleasing behaviors, it can be hard to let go of trying to please everyone. Complete freedom can be found by adopting the notion that “what you think of me is none of my business.”
While some use this as an aggressive and belligerent attitude to further isolate themselves from their fellows, a balance can be found in recognizing that others may have a differing set of beliefs, but it doesn’t need to keep us apart. In fact, learning to respect our own beliefs and truths will give us permission to respect and honor those of others, even when they differ.
This is a big step in recovery! Accepting that you can disagree with someone’s opinions, beliefs, lifestyle and ways of doing things without being disagreeable is immensely empowering and unifying for individuals and as a collective society. Many people look only for the differences between themselves and others in order to isolate themselves further from their peers. Using this phrase allows one to keep their minds open to non-judgment and embrace the differences.