Insignificant Others

By Gregg Sanderson

Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self worth. Only you can be responsible for that.”—Ashley Montagu

What a surprise to discover this quote from Ashley Montagu! Years ago, when I thought it was important to be right, I invited him to speak before a group I led. I had never read anything of his I could agree with, so of course I was anxious to prove him wrong.

Fortunately for us both, his speaker fee ($1,000) was higher than our offer ($0.00). We didn’t get together.

Yet now, his quote above identifies a major connection often overlooked. So much of the BS we get from society requires other people to sanctify our self-worth.

In the June 2018 issue, I wrote about the “Three ‘J’s” (Justassoonas, Justification and Judgment), which point out speed bumps on our highway to happiness. Other BS (belief systems) leads us over a rocky detour. I call them the “V”s. What do you think they are?


I’m not talking about the physical events and abuse that happen in the lives of us all. My point is that no matter what happens, you don’t have to carry an emotional burden forever because of it.

The victimhood syndrome is emotional quicksand. It catches everybody who steps in it, and the more you struggle the deeper you sink until you drown in BS.

I once had a very unhappy friend (well, an acquaintance). He always sought out people who had been through the same emotional disasters as he had. He claimed they’d understand him better, and they could support each other’s misery.

I quickly lost track of him.

Think of all the ways you can suffer when you’re a victim. Remember the list of Justifications in the June issue? They just say, “I’m a victim (of birth, circumstances or somebody else”).

When you believe that something outside of you affects the way you feel, you’re a victim. You want to protect yourself from hurt and become…


When you’re vulnerable, your feelings are at the mercy of anybody who happens by. A slight, real or imagined, makes you a victim, and can ruin your day or maybe even your life. You rely on another (or others) for your sense of self-worth and you always search for…


The unkindest BS of all is the idea that there’s something wrong with you, and you must get validated. Here’s a little gift.

You’re OK.

There, I validated you. Feel better? Maybe not. With a need for validation, satisfaction is always temporary and never enough. Surely you don’t want to mess up your life trying to get more and more people to tell you what I just told you.

It’s all BS. It’s impossible to be invalid. To think of yourself as invalid in any way, you have to buy the belief that something about you is missing. You were born complete. Leave validation to the parking garage.

The Bottom Line

Each of us has two or more major identities. Your individual identity is who you are. It’s everything unique about you. You live in the world as yourself. Your self-esteem comes from your BS about who you are and what you do.

We also have collective identities. We identify ourselves and others by traits that describe us. We view ourselves and others as part of one or more groups who may look, think, or act alike.

For example, we have young, old, white, black, male, and female. There’s rich, poor, immigrant, citizen, gay, straight, spiritual belief or political party. I’ll bet you can think of even more.

It’s fine to join or adopt ideas from any group. It enriches your life. But when the collective identity eclipses your personal self, you sign up for the “V”s.

I was once with a friend who apologized to a group of women on behalf of the entire male gender. He regretted generations of mistreatment.

Translation: “I’m sorry somebody who looks like me but wasn’t me once mistreated somebody who looks like you but wasn’t you.”

He showed me the flaws in collective identity. You view yourself as a part of the group, but you also see others through the lens of your collective. You assign to them a personality, history, and BS that may have nothing to do with who they are.

The more you identify with your group, party, or tribe, the more you’re involved in the “V”s. When self-esteem depends upon your collective, you can be a victim of your color or gender. Your heritage can make you vulnerable, and being too old or too young can appear to invalidate you.

Think of the groups that tell that you are less or more than you believe you are. They all take aim at your self-esteem. Some to raise it, some to destroy. When you let a collective tell you who you are, you set yourself up to suffer.

Please understand it’s not wrong to identify with a collective. It just won’t make you happy, and we’re talking about happiness.

The Happiness Paradigm of Stimulus>BS>Response can only apply to you as an individual. Only you have the unconscious BS that ignites your emotions. Only you can choose how you identify yourself and relate to the world. Only you have the power to make yourself happy.

We’ve defined unconditional love as emotional acceptance of what is. Stuff happens. You’d rather it didn’t. You have two choices.

1)  Feel OK and work to change it.

2)  Feel lousy and cast blame.

#1 is better.

Con artists will tell you otherwise.

Gregg Sanderson is author of Spirit With A Smile, The World According To BOB. He is a licensed practitioner in the Centers for Spiritual Living, and a Certified Trainer for Infinite Possibilities. His earlier books were, What Ever Happened To Happily Ever After? and Split Happens—Easing The Pain Of Divorce. His latest project is the New Thought Global Network, where subscribers can enjoy the best in New Thought presentations from anywhere at any time. You can see it at

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