Saturday, March 21, 2009

No, You Don't Understand...

Yes, I do understand, I just don't agree with what you are saying. There are those among us who will argue endlessly when the other person disagrees - we feel compelled to change their minds, and as we see it, educate them. We're so convinced of our own rightness, we can't believe anyone could disagree, if we just explain it properly.

From Courage to Change, page 29:

"Sometimes the only way I can determine whether I'm simply expressing my feelings is by noticing how many times I say the same thing. If I mention something that is on my mind and then let it go no matter what response I get, I am speaking sincerely. If I repeatedly make similar suggestions, or ask prodding questions again and again, I am probably trying to control. If I am satisfied only when the other person responds in a way I consider desirable - agrees with what I'm saying or takes my advice - I know I've lost my focus."

I love that reading, because it was, and still is, a touchstone for me, in trying to recognise my own controlling behaviors. I will catch myself, about to repeat myself, when an alcoholic has responded to my first statement/question/suggestion, with what I consider the "incorrect" response - ie, not the reply I was angling for.

The reading goes on to say:

"I am learning to be honest with myself. I will not use my recovery as an excuse to justify my efforts to change other people's thinking. Trying to control other people only gets me in trouble."

In the past, I let great spans of my precious life drift past me unnoticed, while I was engaged in a futile attempt to change an alcoholic's thinking. I don't want to waste any more of my life in that pointless endeavor.

To achieve this, I need to be honest with myself about my own motives, and not play that self-deceptive game of, "I was only..."
Right. We both know perfectly well what I was "only" doing. I was only trying to make the alcoholic adopt my way of seeing the situation. I was only trying to guilt-trip them into doing it my way. I was only telling them how superior my view of whatever is. I was only trying to control.

When I feel that familiar rise of irritation in my chest, I can stop, take a deep breath, ask my Higher Power for help, and let it go. Close my mouth firmly, and use it to smile instead of yarp.

My reward for this effort? Feeling better about myself.

1 comment:

  1. Getting honest with yourself is great. I found that I need to inventory my feelings many times during the day. And sometimes I forget and just spew. But those are much less frequent now. I'm thankful for that.