Thursday, September 3, 2009

How Important Is It?

I've written about this slogan once before:

because it has worked so marvellously well for me. I use it as a yardstick, by which I measure whatever it is that's causing me distress, and decide if it's truly as important as it may feel, in the heat of the moment.
My feelings are not always a valid gauge of significance. On the contrary - when my feelings are running high, unimportance is magnified a thousand times, until it seems huge. I have this in common with many who are in program, and this is why we have the acronym H.A.L.T. - because many of us cannot trust our feelings to be an accurate indicator.
When I was living with active drinking, I felt that if I didn't speak up often and loudly, I'd never be heard. (I wasn't heard anyway, but it gave me the illusion I was, at the time.)

I used to be a great one for offering my unsolicited opinion. Then one day, my current sponsor and I were discussing the ways in which we differed, and agreed that she and I would try an exercise for a week - she'd try to speak up more often, and I'd try to remain quiet more often. When we got together for lunch a week later, and discussed it, we ended up in an uncontrollable laughing fit - almost everyone I'd dealt with in my daily round of life that week, had asked if I was all right. Just talking less was so unusual for me, that it caused people to wonder if I was ill! That was an eye-opener.

From Hope for Today, page 142:

Our preamble to the Twelve Steps states in part, "that changed attitudes can aid recovery," and I can attest to this. My family situation has improved considerably because I've learned to mind my own business. "How Important Is It?" reminds me that my opinion doesn't have to be, and often shouldn't be, expressed unless it is requested. "

The flip side of this Slogan, which I didn't see for a long time, is that it can also be used to help me decide to speak up, those times when in the past I'd have remained silent, through a desire to please the other.

How Important Is It? Does whatever it is truly matter to me? Is this going against my principles, or trespassing my boundaries?
If that's the case, I can say so. Courteously. And then stop talking. I don't need to bash my point home with a hammering of words.


  1. This slogan has helped me to decide what to let go of and what to pursue in a tenacious manner. Most of what I used to get worked up over wasn't important. It's another favorite slogan.

  2. I especially like your last paragraph. How true it is!