Monday, February 17, 2014

Opinions vs. Facts


By
Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

The Earth revolves around the Sun.  Fact.  The Sun is yellow.  Opinion.  Pictures put it somewhere between yellow and orange.  There are 2 major oceans bracketing the United States east and west.  Fact.  Oceans are blue.  Opinion.  Look at the water and sometimes it's a blue and sometimes it's a blue-green.  You get the point.  

Opinions are like elbows...everyone's got one.  And, to be sure, opinions are helpful.  For example, if a guy asks a girl out on a date, her response is basically her opinion.  She may say, "Oh yes, I've been hoping you would ask me out.  I think you're so cute."  Her opinion is that the suitor has avoided the category known as 'ugly'.  However, if the same boy asks the same girl out and she replies, "Not if you were the last cro-magnon man on Earth." it would be fair to submit that her opinion of him is basically that he is the equivalent of pre-historic idiot.  Gentlemen: ask carefully.

Opinions, as noted above, can be troublesome.  And when it comes to sobriety and recovery, this is especially true.  What other people think of you can totally influence the decisions you make.  Think about it. Many people, before they enter recovery, stayed out in the party scene for one main reason: what will people think of me if I get sober?  Will I be considered boring?  Stupid?  Lame?  A goody two shoes?  A prude?  So, people stay in the scene even though they loathe it just to be certain they are well thought of.  In other words, it's called 'opinion management'.  Managing other people's opinions is a lot like trying to herd cats, that is, it doesn't work.  

There is an important maxim that people in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous hear on a regular basis.  It goes like this, "What other people think of you, is none of your business."   Isn't that brilliant?  I think it is a great piece of advice.  Let's face it, we are humans in search of fulfillment and acceptance.  It is part of our makeup.  However, we can take it really far and place all of our hope and self-worth on opinions of others.  That is a dangerous way to live emotionally and spiritually.  And it can be a dead ringer for relapse.  

Who's opinions do you hold in high regard?  Where does your own opinion rank in that list?  Often time addicts and alcoholics do not listen to their gut or their intuition.  A lot of times the gut/intuition is the pre-cursor to your opinion about a person or situation.  For example, every time you have lunch and a certain co-worker comes over to you and sits down to eat then you begin to feel uneasy and nauseated.  Why?  Well, I don't know why but I know this:  that nausea and uneasiness is a physical representation of your opinion of said coworker which is not an pleasant one.  Listen to your intuition as it often forms your opinions.  

Here's an experiment for you: pay attention this week to how often you make a decision based on someone else's opinion.  Notice how it makes you feel.  Notice the inner struggle you have between pleasing yourself and either not pleasing someone else and/or being looked down if you choose to please yourself at the expense of someone else.  Notice also if you are conflicted inside and how that relates to your desire to stay sober.  If you notice yourself getting triggered to use, call a trusted sober friend.  Go to a meeting.  Journal your feelings.  There is always something you can do to promote health and healing in your life whether they like it or not.  Because remember, in the end, it's just an opinion.  Much like an elbow.  

If you or someone you love is in need of detox off of alcohol, opiates, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1.877.773.3869 today.  We are here to help people get clean and stay clean.  We are here for you!

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