This morning I was thinking that for many of us, if we do not work against it, our character tends to solidify and become more rigid the older we get. Left unchallenged, our basic beliefs will harden like cement curing, setting into an impermeable foundation for our character defects.
Had I not been bailing against the tide for the last 26 years, I would be a very different woman today.
So much of my old judgement of other people was an effort to protect my insecure self - I kept people at a safe distance by judging, classifying, rating, labelling...it was an exhaustive and time-consuming business, but it felt necessary.
When I was new to program, and began to slowly grasp the concept that it wasn't the world that was so cold to me, it was I who was cold to the world, and the world responded in kind, it felt like a formidable challenge to try to wrest my thinking around to that viewpoint. I didn't like the view from that particular outcropping, it made my self-pity an unwieldy and sharp-edged garment to don, rather than the soft comforting blanket it had always been for me.
Judgement, I thought, kept me safe. What it did, was keep me isolated. And when we're isolated, we don't get the necessary input to effect a change in our thinking; it becomes ever stronger, self-reinforcing.
I still have times when my internal dialogue is less than loving, and I most likely always will as long as I'm upon this earth. Al-Anon has taught me to be aware of that internal dialogue, and when I can't get up out of that rut, to seek help, whether that's to call my sponsor or a program friend, read some literature, or pray. I've evolved a little shorthand phrase for those times: "No judgement - God's love."
That little sentence blocks the negativity, and reminds me that I'm seeking to become more loving, and to have that loving be a pure and unconditional sort - no strings attached, no qualifications, no requirements. Love for the sake of love. Which brings me to the other topic - joy.
I believe that within each of us is a powerful expansive joyfulness, and we can tap into that joy through working 12-Step. You can see it in the faces of those who've realised that joy is an inner resource, not the result of the perfect exterior happening. It makes daily life a very different thing when we get there, because we become the spiritual equivalent of a self-righting boat. We aren't immune to the storms of life, and we may be swept under the surface by a wave of circumstance, but that inner buoyancy brings us back to the surface, and the "sunlight of the spirit."
Happy New Year, all.