Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Get Out Of Their Head

While watching the news this morning, I was struck by how many times I heard people say things like, “I’ll bet he was probably thinking he was going to get away with that.” or “I’m sure she never thought that would happen.”

As I listened to their words, I felt compelled to ask them how they knew what someone else might be thinking.  Did they ask?  If not, they don’t.

Yet an awful lot of this assumption-based chatter is how our society gets many conversations going, and in some cases, actions taken.  I suppose for the most part it’s innocent enough and perhaps on occasion, even helpful.

Until it’s not.

I’ve experienced some really damaging consequences for actions taken based on assumption rather than fact.  Most of these consequences were those which eventually led me to the doors of recovery.

Back then it never failed. I would find myself venturing into someone else’s head and then allowing the thoughts I’d found there to be my judge and jury. I learned the hard way this frolicking around the inner playground of someone else’s head can be terribly misleading and misinterpreted.

Arguments, “cold shoulder” treatment, tears, expectations, dreams shattered, disappointment, isolation, fear, shame…the list goes on and on.

I would to permit those unspoken words to direct my every move. I was incapable of disregarding the body language of another or a look on their face. My initial thought would be any, some, or all of the following, “I’m at fault”, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m a failure”, I’m not wanted” or, “I’m wrong.”

After living this way for well over 35 years, this behavior has been terribly difficult to break free from.  And if I find myself slipping back into it, I have a very loving and generous sponsor who never hesitates to remind me by saying, “Gosh Alison, thanks for doing my thinking for me.”  I smile.  She’s always right.

Since it is my intention to help others by sharing my practical experience, here’s some advice.  Stay out of other people’s heads.

Your life is far better lived by simply asking what someone is thinking, rather than assuming to know what that might be.

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