Thursday, December 15, 2011

How Not To Argue.

Mr SponsorPants has an excellent post this year, about surviving the holidays.

One lesson I've had to learn time and again before it really sank in, (and over which I can still stumble when I'm not paying attention) was this one:

"5. Remember, don't expect Program responses from people who aren't in the Program." 

When I've been brought up short to hear a truly nasty comment made, as soon as a family member left the room, it was, I later realised, because I was carrying an expectation. I've learned that I really don't want to be around someone who choses to behave in that fashion; I find it distressing.

I may have friends not involved in 12-Step who do not behave that way, but if they invite me to a family function, there's no guarantee that their family members are going to abide by my personal standards of courtesty and kindness.

I need to accept that reality, before I accept the invitation, and if I'm not sure, I can ask: "How does your family get along?" If the reply is an amused snort and the quip: "Bring your own stun gun," I might choose to avoid that particular get-together.

I have a dear friend who is an elderly man, and as long as he's not talking about his siblings, he is the soul of kindness and consideration. But let him swerve onto the topic of the shortcomings of one of those poor souls, and he will undergo a transformation into a vessel brimming over with an acid brew of judgement, rage and victimisation. I've learned to change the subject. Repeatedly. I mention the weather,  tell him a funny story about my dogs, I ask after his arthritic knee. I do not respond when he throws out those bitter comments, trolling the bait across in front of me, hoping to hook me in. I see it, but I pretend that I do not - I let it pass by unremarked.

I don't have to attend to every comment offered. I can smile and murmur something vague and noncomittal. I can remark upon the briskness of the air today. I can compliment the lovely sweater the person is wearing.

I can LET IT GO.


  1. So true. I don't have to rise to every remark or be on a soap box. I can walk away with courtesy. That is important to me now.

  2. What a powerful message. Don't expect Program responses from Non-program people.

    This ties in well with your other post too, about Tolerance. When I expect people to behave by my Program's standards, I do tend to morph into a pretty Intolerant person!