About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Going beyond the 'rules': Being willing to relinquish all your fixed ideas and instead do what seems most helpful in any given situation

Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of MAXIMUM helpfulness to others. AA Big Book p102.
The good is the enemy of the best. AA 12x 12 Tradition 2.
People tend to flip-flop between extremes, and no two people are the same. The only thing that differs is the extent to which they have become unbalanced in any direction.
They might start off completely repressed and utterly unable to sit with difficult feelings without dashing off to buy something, or make themselves very busy, rush off into distracting activity, or start another project.
Then there are others who come in completely awash with overwhelming emotions that disable any attempt at regular living.

When I am trying to assess what is in others best interests I look at the circumstances they are dealing with and their capacity to patiently (as opposed to bitterly) endure suffering or lack of capacity to endure suffering
So lets say if somebody showed up ridiculously chirpy (and there's nothing inherently wrong with being ridiculously chirpy), but the way in which they were being ridiculously chirpy meant that they were unable to also be not chirpy when the situation demanded. Then I might tell them in their inflexibility could wreak havoc with their emotional well-being down the line.

Ultimately the goal is total flexibility. Or what AA calls ‘open-mindedness’. Meaning you do whatever works best in any given situation regardless of whether it ‘suits’ you or not. Regardless of whether it appeals to your current pet theories (what AA calls ‘fixed ideas’) or not.
That's why I like the statement in my introduction to my blog that says "I just try to do what works no matter what it is".
Another slogan I love is ‘more of what works and less of what doesn't’, because it bypasses any particular entrenched belief pattern and focuses instead on what is working in any given moment. Because what works this week might not work best for me next week. And if I am paying attention sufficiently to the results that I am getting from my attempts to make my life work, then I like to think I will notice when the method that worked fantastically last month, may no longer be serving my best interests this month.

The other mantra I like is "the rules are, there are no rules". It sounds like a recipe for a total anarchy but it isn't. A bad workman blames his tools. So if I were to meet somebody that used this ‘rule’ as an excuse to sabotage their life in a heedless and destructive manner, I would not find fault with the ‘rule’ but I would find great fault with the unskilful way that person decided to use it.

Another thing that I find interesting is that what looks like a purist ‘good’ rule can be ‘bad’, meaning it can be used in a way that creates massive suffering and destruction. And what looks like a ‘bad’ rule can be used in a way that's incredibly life enhancing and supportive.
I suppose what I'm saying is that it's not the rule that is ‘pure’ but instead it is the skilfulness which with which the rule is applied where the ‘purity’ exists. ..And that’s why when people stop thinking about how they are applying what they have learned to any given situation, and instead revert to default understandings they haven't really questioned in years, that problems develop.

The problem is that people aren't paying attention, or don't stop to think about why they are actually doing things the way they are doing them. It's very sad that most people are far too restless or busy to stop and think about what they are doing. So I consider myself extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to learn from the example of those who have made it a habit to reflect upon their lives deeply, no matter how much they have learned so far. Only very arrogant people draw the mistaken assumption that because they worked hard and read a few self help/therapy/enlightenment books, that there is nothing left for them to learn. On the contrary there is an !!!! infinite amount to learn and we are all a work in progress. Don't ever make the mistake that you think you know what you're talking about, because you probably don't. If you can tolerate the insecurity of knowing that you will never really know the whole picture, then you can relax. It doesn't have to be a big deal that none of us know the answers to the intangible. We can live our lives very comfortably resolved to the fact that we see through a glass darkly, and that's as good as it will ever get. The most important things in life are the things that are hardest to see with the naked eye. Which is frustrating until you become comfortable and better able to tolerate the insecurity of that reality.
So question everything. Try not to sleepwalk into a life of unquestioned mental/emotional habits. Become comfortable with the uncertainty. Its ok :). And tell the truth nomatter how unflattering and ego puncturing it is.

And if any of what I have said makes you realise how easy it is to become unstuck using these so-called spiritual principles, well take heed. That's what sponsors are for. If you are a new person, trust me, it's ! very easy to misinterpret these guidelines and use them in ways which ruin your well-being. So please try to find a guide to help you implement the tools that AA offers. And please do your due diligence on the person you are considering asking to be your sponsor. Learn as much as you can from the examples in AA because you can learn from anyone, not just your sponsor. An old timer used to say "A wise person learns from his own mistakes, a smart person learns from other people's". So you can learn from !! everyone in AA.

oh yes, and here's a quote I heard today which I really love.
Saying 'Yes' to life is real renunciation. ~Pema Chodron~

Right: well I'm going to do some work now.. a strong cup of coffee will do the trick I think.
I hope Wednesday is treating you well :)


Anonymous said...

Just dropping by to introduce myself. Looking forward to following your blog. Have a good one!

Unknown said...

"If you can tolerate the insecurity of knowing that you will never really know the whole picture, then you can relax."

If we let go and just detach from so much of what we call living we will find our lives are so much fuller and so much more alive than what we see as illusions at times.

This is just an amazing post, as are all your posts, sometimes I just don't comment as you cover it all, but I am so grateful that you're on the internet and I have the joy and the treasure of reading your blog.

Thank you,

Syd said...

I have to smile at the people who write on blogs that they don't want to listen to problems in meetings so they are going to quit going. Or that they are no longer affected by the disease of alcoholism so there is no need to go to meetings. I know that I could not get rid of my wrong thinking after just a few years. This is a program for my life. I don't "graduate".
Thanks for your offer about C. She is doing well. She seems happy. I guess that is what struck me--how she seems so "normal" and yet still has the disease that is so cunning, baffling and powerful. I was struck by the fact that this is a life time program for both of us.

The Turning Point said...

One of my daily prayers is my gratitude for being given the grace and awareness to KNOW that I'm still wet paint. Like my sponsor said to me early on, "Kid it's what you are going to learn after you know it all, that counts. Still learning.

Good post.


Julianne said...

Thank you on so many levels for posting this! I thought there was something wrong with me and the fact that what used to "work" for me, isn't anymore. I was afraid to let go and reach for something new, untried by me.