Thursday, March 31, 2011

Getting Honest With Myself.

This is a process; most of us are not able to go from the denial and excusing/blaming/accusing of others, to personal honesty, in one fell swoop. Even after a spiritual awakening, there is still the heavy force of habit operating in our lives.

So how do I do this? I examine my motives. I take a moment to stop before I speak, and ask myself: for which end result am I aiming?

Am I attempting to give the other person a clear statement of how I feel, or am I trying to hurt someone who has just hurt me?

Am I setting a boundary, or punishing and rejecting? Am I so focused on the other person's character defects, that all I can feel is rage and frustration? Am I blindly lashing out in an effort to vent my overwhelming emotions? When I didn't know any better, that's how I behaved: like a heavy object in a high wind being blown "hither and yon." Now that I do know better, I can't make excuses for myself.

Getting honest with myself means I don't justify or rationalise. I don't bash myself if I make a mistake, or choose to behave in old ways, but I also don't pretend I don't know what it is that I'm choosing to do. I detach from my feelings and take my own inventory. I work Step Ten every day: "Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."

A sponsee asked me why do we have to do it "promptly?" Why does that matter?

I replied, "Give me an hour, and I can rationalise anything."

So I don't give myself that hour to play those games with myself, of shifting the lines slightly inwards here, and kicking them out an inch or so there, and moving this just a tad, and pushing that slightly out of the way, until I've rearranged everything to my satisfaction, and it all looks very different from the truth of the matter.

I became very skilled at that mental rearranging, before I came to Al-Anon, and it may have satisfied my character defects, but it was a dishonest and unhappy way to live. When I get honest with myself, I give myself freedom. I don't need to hide who I am, or what I'm doing, because it's all out there on the table. I bring out the skeletons in my closet, and I act in a way which fosters my self-respect.

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