Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections expunged the original title of this cantankerous entry on the grounds it would shock the Spo-fans in Canada. I pointed out not caring what other people think is the point of the essay so what the fig? Alas, Babylon, they were inveterate on their decision. For folks who think nothing about running around half-naked in summer they can be quite prudish.

I often see patients very concerned with what others think of them. Anxiety from being perceived in a bad way is hard-wired into our nervous systems; no one can be blamed for feeling innate shame. I for one was was quite concerned what others thought of me; I was in my 30s before coming out for what I knew was true at six years old. I also had a strong sense of feeling what others were feeling. I was like a tuning fork, vibrating at the same frequency as the folks around me. I would avoid anger and conflict as I had poor emotional boundaries. When I wasn’t a tuning fork, I was a sponge. Both made me quite the fig eater.

Through time and with wisdom my boundaries are better and I have learned not to give a fig what others think of me. How I dress, how I do things, and who I am etc. have been become not a concern. “What will they think?” is shrinking in the rear-view mirror and good riddance to it. The fellows from my high school who were ‘top brass’ had contempt for me then and they probably still do but the difference is I don’t give a fig now.*

Educating patients (and prepubescent nieces) on the art of not to give a fig isn’t as easy task, for the price of such is disapproval and rejection by others. For thems holding on to the illusion if they do A, B, and C, the reward will be ‘their’ approval. This isn’t likely to happen and/or it isn’t worth it.

Mind! At times I catch myself still worried what others think of me, but I hope these are over important things like courage, honor, strength, mastery, and my ability to match my socks. I still hold onto vanity viz. what do others think of me, which comes out for example in my body image when I go to Palm Springs. So don’t think of me as having achieved total independency from shame. I still have to be mindful not to sponge up other people’s emotions or vibrate in A-minor when they are so.

All the same, most of the time when I meet someone who disapproves of me I no longer cringe but do something of the following:

“Why are you dressed like that?” says the ill-mannered new patient upon seeing me in a brightly colored Spo-shirt.

[Urs Truly, feigning disappointment] “Oh, you don’t like it?”

“Doctors are supposed to be dressed professionally”

“I made this shirt. (pause) I’m very proud of it” (another pause, to see them squirm a bit). The evaluation proceeds with the rhinoceros in the room both of us knowing despite this hour-long attempt to establish a treatment plan he ain’t coming back but he will repeat the process with another shrink – if he can find one and wait 2-3 months for it. Later that day I am careful not to spill fig juice on my shirt as I dictate the note. After all, I don’t want be be looked-upon as a slob. 🙂

*I admit I had to refrain from too obvious a smirk during our high school reunion to see Mr. Top Dog now very out of shape, twice divorced, and presently ‘between jobs’. I often wonder if your success in Life is in opposite correlation to your success in high school.