Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seen Through A Glass, Darkly.

When I decide I know how another person is thinking, or what they mean when they say something, I am setting myself up for trouble.

From Courage to Change, page 140:

"And how did others appear to me? Happy and self-confident - they seemed to have all the answers. But because of the front that I put on, people thought I was easy-going and happy, too. If they could be mistaken about how I really felt, couldn't I have a few wrong ideas about their feelings?"

When I was new to program, my negative attitude colored my perception of what other people said/thought/felt/meant. I was always on guard against sarcasm, or snarkiness, or what have you. I saw it everywhere, and was easily offended and upset. People couldn't be trusted, they were always trying to "get at me" and they might be smiling and friendly, but I was convinced I knew what was really going on inside their heads.

I have, with the aid of Al-Anon, pretty much let that brand of insanity go. If someone offers me a cheerful response, I accept it at face value. I don't go searching behind the words for the "true" meaning.

It's amazing how my own changed attitude, has rendered life and the world so much less threatening, so much more accepting - warmer. When I was defensive and threatened, I couldn't understand that how I viewed the world, and the people in it, affected my feelings of safety and personal comfort.

What I love about program, is that we are each allowed to use whatever works for us. When I was new, the slogans sounded like trite, annoying little sayings that couldn't possibly help me.

I didn't understand that my attitude was of paramount importance.

Just as people in double blind studies can derive positive effect from a pill if they believe they are getting the real thing, not the placebo, how I view the tools of Al-Anon will affect how well they work for me. If I dismiss the slogans as useless little cliches, they can't help me. If I choose to see them as little snippets of distilled wisdom, I can use that wisdom in my daily life;

It's always easier to scoff than to believe - belief takes effort, and hard work. How badly do I want recovery?

It works if we work it. If I choose to sneer and dismiss, I won't be deriving much help from the program.


  1. I used to walk into work and people would say "Hello" and I would wonder: What did they REALLY mean by that? This is after I've been in Alanon many years. I must need to be in Alanon many MORE years. Or somehow get better at working this program. Well, I have to say the Alanon tools have been known to give me serenity, at various times. I guess I'm just not perfect at using them yet. Progress, but not perfection.

  2. I take people at face value now. I understand that each of us has defects of character. We are only human. I am much more compassionate than before Al-Anon.