Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How's That Working For You?

Years ago, I had a friend who was crazy about Dr. Phil - she watched his show every day, and if I happened to drop by while it was on, I had to sit quietly, and not interrupt. (I used to do the mental equivalent of rolling my eyes and sighing heavily, not having reached a place in my life where I could be tolerant or accepting, of that which I didn't like.)

One day the show featured a guest, who was expounding upon the reasons for his harsh treatment of his family. Each time Dr. Phil would point out the limitations of his choices, the guest would "Yes, but..." him. Several of these interjections, and the guest was then allowed to continue without further interruption, rationalising and justifying himself and his choices. When the guest fell silent, Dr. Phil asked: "How's that working for you?"

It was fascinating to watch various expressions chase themselves across the face of this man, as he considered the question - he was dumbfounded. He sat in silence for a moment, then replied, "It isn't."

I've been that guest - rationalising, caught up in defending, explaining: quite unable to listen or see, until brought up short by someone else's wisdom. That's why I'm grateful for program: for the people who faithfully attend meetings, and share their experience, strength, and hope with me.

I'm beginning to suspect that my 4 th Step inventory this time around, is going to be one of the tidal wave kind - washing away all before it.

I've experienced a couple of these over the years I've been in Al-Anon, and they are a wild ride. The wave sweeps through, and then recedes. I climb down from the safety of my observation point and wander around - a little dazed and shaken, but otherwise unharmed. I see to my astonishment that my house of self has been lifted completely off its foundations, given a quarter-turn, and set back down. My line of sight has changed. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the new placement offers me a view previously obscured by the walls of my assumptions and beliefs.

If I am willing, accepting, and open to the process, I believe that I'll be graced with a leap forward in my personal growth -understanding, compassion, love.


  1. The fourth step made me realize a lot about myself. What's my motive with some of the stuff that I do? That's a question I ask myself and it brings me right back to the basis for much in my life: fear of rejection.
    I once said to a sponsee "How's That Working for You". He just about blew me off the map. I try to keep my sarcasm to a minimum now.

  2. When I start my sentences with "Yes, but..." (and I do it all the time), I am reminded that I need head directly back to Step One. The "but" is a clear indication I have forgotten that acceptance is the key to the program. Thank you.

  3. The wonderful thing about program friends is that we are all students and we are all teachers. Acceptance for me is key, and it begins with the daily process of accepting myself. To do this I have to let go of all the "shoulds" in my head. This program teaches me that I can accept people, situations, and viewpoints regardless of whether I agree with them. Very freeing.