Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Procrastination Techniques.

From Hope for Today, page 83:

"By applying the Serenity Prayer to the various situations that occured, I was reminded that my anger can be an attempt to change someone or something because I don't want to change. Being willing to change - to acknowledge my anger, identify its source, and express it lovingly - is a bit part of my Fourth and Tenth Steps. I gain self-worth when I change the things I can and accept responsibility for my reactions rather than blaming or shaming another."

How many times in my life have I done this? How much effort have I exerted, in my attempts to change my circumstances, or those around me, so that I don't have to move an inch? How far might I have been able to move, had I turned my efforts toward myself, leaving other people, to be moved, or not, as their Higher Power saw fit?

At one point in my recovery, I was so angry with myself for being angry with other people all my life, that I was twisted into a tight little knot of livid, agonising self-loathing. I got up the nerve to share this with my sponsor, who listened to my ranting on my stupidity until I finished, then after a moment's silence, asked, "Is this another delaying tactic?"

I didn't understand the question, and wondered if she'd been listening to anything I'd said. I repeated, "I'm furious with myself!"

She asked, "Where does that get you?"

I stared at her, uncomprehending. She asked it again, and urged me to detach from my feelings for long enough to consider the question. I just sat there. I had no idea how to detach from my feelings - my feelings ruled my every waking moment.

We had to back up a considerable distance, and reason out how to detach from our strong feelings. That required discussing how my internal dialogue affected my mood. I'd heard and read the phrase "internal dialogue" before Al-Anon, but had only a hazy grasp of the meaning. Another program friend uses the term "the stories I tell myself." What story was I telling myself about this? Let's see: I was a fool, I was an idiot, I had wasted years of my life I couldn't get back, I was a snivelling little whiner, I was... 

Derision from an exterior source provoked my anger, why did I think that casting aspersions upon myself, to myself, would have a different effect? It's akin to hitting our finger with the hammer, then becoming so annoyed with ourself for that mistake, we give our finger a couple more good whacks - this time, for punishment.

It prolongs and increases the pain, while doing nothing to improve our skills.

That was a blinding revelation for me. I was still aglow with that amazing concept, when my sponsor dragged me back to earth, by directing me to consider whether that punishment of self was another way to keep me stuck, so I was unable to make any decisions, which might then require to be put into action.

I didn't like that idea at all. It was the alcoholic's fault I was unhappy, it was most certainly not mine. No no nooooooooooo.

Persistent woman that she was, she asked me to go home and  until we met again, I was to pay attention to how often I was wanting someone or something outside myself to change, so I could continue on my way unimpeded, unhampered, unhappy.

I didn't get it, why on earth would I want to stay unhappy? Why? Because it's strong habit, and, it's easier. Left to my own devices, without the wisdom of Al-Anon to offer me an alternative perspective, I'll tread that same well-worn route, making sure to keep myself in the rut ,with a variety of procrastination  techniques, all explained and defended, in sentences beginning with the same two words:

"Yes, but.... "


  1. Thank you for taking the time to write about your recovery process. I have only begun my recovery process. I have been attending Al-Anon meetings for just a few months, but the time that I have spent in the meetings has given me the hope of leading a normal, healthy life. Just knowing that others have been there, that they have had similar experiences is comforting. Seeing the progress that they have made through the program encourages me to work the steps. Again thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you for writing this. It is exactly what I was needing to hear today. I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and it has really been helpful, especially when I am not able to get to a meeting. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Very familiar I related to your post.
    My disease wants to keep the record spinning otherwise it wont have a place to play.

  4. "Yes, but" means that I am still trying to force my will, my way on others. I didn't have a solution except to keep trying the same old stuff that never worked. Nice to be working on changing me instead of someone else.