Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Keep An Open Mind.

When new to Al-Anon, this was not an exercise upon which I leapt with glee - since I was convinced that I was always right, why did I need to open my mind to any input from other people? I'll get back to this in a moment, but first, I want to talk about a casual acquaintance, and the marked difference in this person's personality, when I saw her first with various family members, and then by herself.

Around various family members, she was stiff, spoke in a monotone, forgot what she was saying half the time, repeated herself and seemed to be trying to impress through quite a bit of bragging about this and that..  She appeared distinctly uncomfortable, continually fidgeting.

When not around family, she was relaxed, calm, interesting, funny, and enthusiastic. It was such a marked change, that I've been thinking about it on and off ever since.

I had first met this woman in company with her family members, and had felt uncomfortable with the bragging statements, and that was about it - no empathy, no compassion, just a sort of mild irritation.

When I knew I was going to be seeing her again, I decided that I needed to set my initial impression firmly aside, and approach her with an open mind.

I quickly realised that much of what I'd felt uncomfortable with, was her own discomfort within her family, and the way that had affected her behavior. It was as though when she was not in their company, she felt free to be herself. Around them, she appeared to feel "less than." Afterwards, I found myself thinking about what an endearing and generous soul she has, doing the work she does, and just trying in general to live a good life. I felt ashamed that I had been, once again, judgemental. And on such paltry evidence - a bit of bragging.

Were it not for this amazing program, I'd have approached this woman with my mind slammed shut, locked down, and barricaded. I would have denied myself the pleasure of talking to her for a couple of hours, and being warmed by her spirit.

Some days, it's hard to articulate just how deeply program has enriched my life - and then there are days like today.


  1. I do my best to remember that each of us has character defects and that I might just be seeing those in action when I am around people who aren't in the program. I feel much compassion for our humanness.

  2. I used to think I was right about everything, too!
    Something I ask myself regularly now, although I still resist it at times, is "What would happen if you were open to a different answer?"

  3. Like the old commercial said, "You've come a long way, baby!"

  4. I enjoyed this post. We just never know what is going on in the minds and hearts of others. We are all such tender beings. I love your description of being warmed by her spirit ~ Beautiful! Thank you!


  5. Just what I was exploring in my step-work today! It's like being in the present... I could miss something when I am not in the moment or listening to someone.