Saturday, 31 May 2014

The four 'Ms'

Mothering, martyrdom, management, and manipulation are the four 'Ms', the four behaviour patterns characterising an Al-Anon (me!) when I am out of control.

I find it helpful to look at my behaviour and determine where these are showing up in my dealings with alcoholics.

The two biggest patterns are these:

(1) Giving advice that has not been asked for.
(2) Offering comment, insight, or criticism that has not been asked for.

A further danger comes when these are indeed actively asked for. Usually, it's still inappropriate, and I fall into this trap a lot. It's inappropriate because most of the time the person is unable or unwilling to follow the advice, and all that happens is that guilt is induced, which actually exacerbates the problem. Even if the discourse superficially concerns asking for and offering help, underneath there can be an animus of wanting to change, silence, banish, or shame (which are the four basic objectives of control), because the other person's sickness is be seen as a threat, and therefore, somehow, my problem.

When I want to control, I want the person to change, shut up, go away, or at least look ashamed.

As Annie L says, 'help is the sunny side of control'.

The corrective measure is this:

Do not use the word 'you'.

Ask God to give you a story to tell, about yourself, and tell the story that then comes, even if it seems irrelevant. Odd, wonderful things then happen, and no one gets hurt.

I heard someone say that, when he was in treatment, or a nut ward, or somewhere, they made him walk around with a sign round his neck reading 'I am not a therapist'. I think I need one of those signs.

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