Sunday, March 8, 2009

Changing My Attitude

If there's one thing I've learned in Al-Anon, it's that my first take on a situation is not necessarily the correct one. Given half a chance, my ego will present me with a carefully constructed ediface of rationalisations and co-dependent thinking, which leaves me all but blameless, and the other person, or persons, taking the fall. And it can requre considerable excavating, and effort spent "reasoning things out with someone else," before I can even begin to glimpse my part in the problem.
Without help from another program member, my ego will be nattering away to me, completely absolving me of any responsibility, and loading the other person like a pack mule, until they are staggering and gasping under the burden, and I'm swanning around with a small paper bag as my part of the load.
Occasionally, I will choose a non-program person with whom to reason it out, and this can be gratifying for a while, because most folks not in 12-step, or otherwise enlightened by life and experience, or study, will agree wholeheartedly that of course, it's obviously the fault of anyone but the one complaining to them. That's the meaning of "moral support" to most of us who aren't involved in taking our own inventory.
But the fun of that palls pretty quickly. Al-Anon has ruined it for me. I listen to the other person telling me all the ways I'm right, and I think to myself, well, that's not really true...when I hear myself think that, I know I'm ready to start the dig. I seek out a program friend, and start the process of "reasoning things out."
For those of you not familiar with this, here's how it often works for me:
I state my case, which usually starts out, as I mentioned, with me as close to inculpable, as humanly possible.
My friend or sponsor listens, validates this, then promptly pushes that nonsense to the back of the table, clearing a space on which to work. They then begin the real endeavor, by offering several ways of looking at the situation which often had: entered my head, and been booted right out again by my ego, or had been refused entrance in the first place, regardless of how loudly they knocked.
Some program friends will offer a possiblity as gently as they'd handle a precious piece of bone china, with lots of padding to insulate it, as they hand it over.
Some just smack it down on the table like a ruler - whack! and sit there smiling sweetly, waiting for my reply.
Truly? I prefer the latter, it expedites the process considerably.
When I was new to 12-step, I preferred the softer, kinder approach, because my ego was so tender and easily bruised.
Nowadays, I find the reasoning process with a gentler friend can evolve to into hilarious conversations, with them offering me the same sorts of suggestions as my ego does, and me arguing strenuously against them, in a sort of wierd positions-reversed dialogue, which might sound quite bonkers to anyone not in program:

Them: Well, maybe you did that because you felt they'd hurt you, and you were just wanting to let them know that.

Me: Nope. I was getting a dig in.

Them: Maybe you didn't realise how that would sound, though.

Me: Nope, I knew perfectly well, and I said it anyway.

Them: I'm sure you didn't really mean it.

Me: Yes I did.

So the gentler way can also be very effective in letting myself in on how and where and why I've erred.
Then I can do a step 10; make amends, clear the air, restore peace and tranquillity, and move on with my day/week/life.
Because I may not be looking too closely at what's in that little paper bag I talked about, but I'm telling you, you carry it for a while, and that sucker weighs a ton.

1 comment:

  1. I change my mind as much as I change my underwear and that's daily....

    I accept change but find it diff icult to change the pattern my life has become. It's so true when people say "It's one day at a time".

    Thanks for letting me share,
    The parrot..