Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cherishing Opinions.

From Courage to Change, page 288:

"Do not search for the truth," said an ancient patriarch, "only cease to cherish opinions." For me, ceasing to cherish opinions is part of the Tenth Step. Much of what I find wrong in life is related to my opinions - that is, my prejudices, assumptions, self-righteous stances, attitudes."

I love that.

Which of my cherished opinions am I able to drop today? Can I let go of this? How about that? Oh, there's an old one, fling that sucker into the round file! 

So much of this is mental fluff, presented to me as truth when I was a kid, or an adult, and which I dutifully adopted to please - a teacher, a partner, a friend. The more of it I manage to clear out, the more loving and accepting I am able to be, and the more people I can be of service to, in program. Some of my newer sponsees don't get it yet - I can see in their faces that they don't understand how I can be accepting of them, but also of this other person whose opinions differ from theirs in every conceivable way. Sometimes they will try to pin me down on what I think, and I can see their frustration when I reply that I don't have an opinion on that.

"But you must!" one said to me, the other day.

"Why must I?"

"Because everyone does!"

"Why is it important to you?" I asked.

"I need to know where you stand." Her face was wrinkled with frustration.

"I stand right smack dab in the absolute middle - I could see all sides, I could agree with all sides, and I could disagree with all sides, so I decided to let that one go."

"But what do you think when you think about it?" Her voice was beginning to take on a note of irritation; perhaps she imagined I was teasing her.

"I don't think about it."

She leaned back in her chair, and looked at me for a bit, then said flatly, "I don't believe that."

I smiled at her with love and affection, and replied, "That's okay, too."

Her next question made me burst out laughing: "Was your first sponsor this irritating?"

Oh, easily. I was strongly opinionated, and it was beyond me that a person could be any other way but full to bursting with opinons, ideology, attitudes. I had that thinking of "I am this way, so everyone is this way, and anyone who says they are not this way, is trying to pull a fast one on me." It's why I had so much trouble with the concept of letting go - I thought I needed all of it. I belived that the mental stuffing was what made me "my own person." I had to be in program for quite some time before it began to dawn on me that I was anything but my own person.

It wasn't until I started trying to examine those parts of myself most strongly affected by people-pleasing, that I began to see any of this clearly. And as I go along in program, I find it happens all the time that I will come around a corner in my thinking and stop short, amazed to see yet another pile of bits and scraps taking up space in my head. I sift through, and some of that stuff is ancient, got shoved in there when I was just a kid, and never looked at closely again. It was put there and forgotten, but was still taking up space, and collecting dust.

I pray for the increased ability to stop "cherishing opinions." It started out being a painful exercise, but now it's like spring cleaning - feels so good to get rid of that stuff.


  1. So true. I see it outside the fellowship--people minding the business of others, wanting to take sides. It takes so much energy to do that and makes me dissatisfied with myself and others. It is better to stay in the middle and to state my truth but without gossip or anger. I liken it to a Zen like state of mind. I can listen but let go and not be involved in all the drama of what others are trying to drag me into.

  2. This hits home for me. I used to say quite regularly "I have opinions on everything, and I'm happy to share them!" Ugh! Now I'm beginning to see how much those opinions were a part of my black and white thinking and attempts to control others. My way was the right way and woe to those who fell on the other side of my way.