Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Offence

Would I get offended if …?
I have more important things to do than be offended that other people don't think, act or speak how I would like them to.
Not only it is unpleasant (for me), it is pointless, embarrassing (because I'm letting someone else dictate my feelings), and ultimately one more pebble in the when-it's-full-I'll-relapse jar.
One is at perfectly liberty to be offended, it being a free world'n'all, but who would want to, and why? Maybe to enjoy the self-righteous satisfaction? That has always been a great appeal for me: look at me, Snow White, surrounded by at least seven malevolent and recalcitrant dwarves, not to mention the witch with her poisoned apple. And that’s the point: one’s offered poisoned apples the whole time. It’s no one’s choice but mine to eat one. Or a whole bowlful.
No, I enjoy my life much more not deliberating manufacturing my own misery by subconsciously laying behaviour traps for other people (technical term: expectations) and jumping up and down like Rumpelstiltskin whenever anyone puts a foot wrong.
If people are persistently unpleasant, my real question is, ‘why is this person in my life?’ or (if they’re necessarily there) ‘why am I having or perpetuating this interaction?’

Monday, 14 August 2017

In 1833, ...

In 1833, slavery was abolished. Do pass the word.

A little reminder: one does not need to remain in a relationship with someone who is malicious, menacing, unreasonably critical, or overly demanding. Even if they've been in your life for a long time. Even if they've been in your life forever.

It's tempting to try to remedy such situations with a judicious use of amends, boundaries, and general Good Deeds and Piety. That sometimes works. But sometimes you're playing chess with a pigeon. It ignores the rules, knocks over your king, poops on the board, then struts around like it won the game.


Leave the room. Put the phone down. Take the car keys and go. Maybe send a birthday and Christmas card, and an occasional bunch of flowers. But you do not have to keep trying to fix things, and their emotions in response to your decision to spend your life, instead, with people who are genial, affable, ask nothing of you, and laugh a lot, are not your responsibility either. They can find their own Higher Power, and it ain't you.

If ever you falter, read some Mary Oliver to remind yourself of some basic truths.

'You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles, repenting.'

'... though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, ...'

And when you stop trying to fix broken things and feeling guilty because you can't, all of the lights turn on, and you realise you already are wherever you thought you were headed.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Gossip

From the St Augustine Prayer Book list of undesirable character traits: ‘Malice. Ill-will, false accusations, slander, backbiting. Reading false motives into others’ behaviour. Initiation, collection or retailing gossip. Arousing, fostering, or organising antagonism against others. Unnecessary criticism, even when true.’

From the Big Book: ‘We families of Alcoholics Anonymous keep few skeletons in the closet. Everyone knows about the others’ alcoholic troubles. This is a condition which, in ordinary life, would produce untold grief; there might be scandalous gossip, laughter at the expense of other people, and a tendency to take advantage of intimate information. Among us, these are rare occurrences. We do talk about each other a great deal, but we almost invariably temper such talk by a spirit of love and tolerance.’

From Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions: ’Self-righteous anger also can be very enjoyable. In a perverse way, we can actually take satisfaction from the fact that many people annoy us, for it brings a comfortable feeling of superiority. Gossip barbed with our anger, a polite form of murder by character assassination, has its satisfactions for us, too. Here we are not trying to help those we criticise; we are trying to proclaim our own righteousness.’

From Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions: ‘One unkind tirade or one wilful snap judgment can ruin our relation with another person for a whole day, or maybe a whole year. Nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen. We must avoid quick-tempered criticism and furious, power-driven argument.’

From Dr Bob’s Farewell Talk: ‘Let us also remember to guard that erring member the tongue, and if we must use it, let’s use it with kindness and consideration and tolerance.’

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Quarantine that thought!

Ask God: what mental topics are not fit for consumption (anything one is panicky, doom-laden, or contemptuously angry about). Make the list.

Then, whenever the temptation arises to think about these topics (which it will), quickly dismiss the thought and turn your mind to God, for instance by repeating a line or two from a favourite prayer.

Try this for 30 days.

Emmet Fox's original writing on the matter:
Stand By For Quarantine! (Emmet Fox)
When you are praying or treating about a particular thing, you should handle it, mentally, very carefully indeed. The ideal way is not to think about it at all except when you are actually praying about it. To think about it in between, especially to talk to other people about it, is exceedingly likely to invite failure.
When a new problem presents itself to you, you should immediately know the Truth[1] about it, and then decline to consider it except in the light of Truth. I call this ‘putting a subject in quarantine,’ and whenever I have been able to ‘quarantine’ a problem of my own I have always demonstrated very easily and very well.
Even and old, long-standing problem can be ‘put in quarantine’ today, if you mean business and will resolutely break the habit of constantly thinking over that problem.
Everyone knows that a photographer must not expose unfixed film to daylight if he wants to get results. Everyone knows how careful a chemist is to isolate (i.e., quarantine) his materials in the laboratory, since the slightest contamination of one chemical by another will probably ruin any experiment. What many Truth students do not seem to understand is that mental operations have to be just as carefully safeguarded if demonstrations are to be made.
Whenever you think about any subject, you are treating it with your thought—either for good or evil.

[1]  Sin [= "missing the mark"] is a sense of separateness from God, and is the major tragedy of human experience. It is, of course, rooted in selfishness. It is essentially an attempt to gain some supposed good to which we are not entitled in justice. It is a sense of isolated, self-regarding, personal existence, whereas the Truth of Being is that all is One. Our true selves are at one with God, undivided from Him, expressing His ideas, witnessing to His nature—the dynamic Thinking of that Mind. Because we are all one with the great Whole of which we are spiritually a part, it follows that we are one with all men. Just because in Him we live and move and have our being, we are, in the absolute sense, all essentially one.


Is it God's will? Resources

When asking God for God's will for us, answers may come through inspiration, an intuitive thought, or a decision.

To determine whether the answer is in fact the right answer, the following are useful questions:

  • What is for the good of all?
  • Is the motivation giving or getting?
  • Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said right now?
  • Is the proposed action the best use of my time and energy?
  • Is the proposed action in alignment with the principles of detachment in Al-Anon?

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

What shape is my ego?

The ego is invisible.

In some films, there is an invisible entity. The invisible entity is shown by throwing dust over the whole scene, and the shape of the invisible entity shows up, in outline. If you like Star Trek, you'll discover that the tachyon detection grid works in a similar way to reveal cloaked Romulan warships (http://www.starshipexcelsior.com/union_rpg/unitsdefenses/system.html).

When I examine why I'm upset, I invariably find that I'm upset because I have a demand or an expectation. The sum total of the demands and the expectations is the plan for the universe devised by my ego. It is only by examining upset that the ego's global plan can be gradually revealed, and then dropped or redirected.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Endless inventory

Over time, further inventories will be needed, beyond the first Step Four. Whether these are cast as further Step Fours or Step Tens is a futile argument. Either way: they need to be done.

Nonetheless, it's possible to become fixated on inventory and thus avoid the solution.

Sometimes no new information is needed about resentments or fears and we need to flip straight to the solution:

Recognise the nothingness of self and the allness of God.
Remember that there is 'One Who Has All Power'.
Withdraw faith in one's own perception of 'reality'.
Mind one's own business.
Withdraw judgement.
Actively forgive.
Stay out of the past.
Stay out of the future.
Stop recreational speculation, interpretation, generalisation, and extrapolation.
Seek to understand in the place of judgment.
Seek to learn more about the object of the judgment.
Prohibit catastrophisation.
Actively foster gratitude.
Come back to the present.
Turn one's attention to a constructive activity.
Help others.
Gently and persistently turn the mind away promptly from negative thinking.
Downgrade demands into preferences.
Prayer and meditation.
Spiritual reading (I particularly recommend Emmet Fox).
Constructive activity.
Physical activity.
Creative activity.
Contact with others.
Contact with nature.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Ten tips I’ve been given:

  • Don't take what happens to you personally. If you did genuinely provoke, cause, or contribute to a negative situation, review your conduct, apologise, and amend your behaviour going forward. Then drop the matter.
  • Don't script your life: instead go with the flow, however unexpected.
  • Catastrophisation is irrational and habit-forming. Don't indulge it.
  • Don't have expectations. If you must have them, take responsibility for them by communicating them clearly and politely and accept being perceived as bossy.
  • When making decisions, stop waiting for superstitious signs or bizarre coincidences, and instead embrace prayer, evidence, reason, consultation, and detachment.
  • Don't avoid risk at all cost. Risks are sometimes reasonable to take. Be prepared for some things to go wrong. If they do, admit it promptly and recalibrate.
  • Don't compare your life to that of other people except, occasionally, to use others as a positive example and set a realistic objective. Then work for it.
  • Give your time only to those who deserve and respect it.
  • Forgive everyone for everything.
  • Give of yourself.


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Thinking

My mind takes perceptions, interprets them based on beliefs, and causes unhappiness. It does this without me wanting it to. It seems to enjoy it.

I might have to share a body with my mind, but I needn't be upset by it, provided that I remember I do not need to believe what it yields. It's a wordbox, not the Oracle of Delphi.

The book 'Alcoholics Anonymous' suggests that one has to let go of all old ideas to recover from alcoholism and live fruitfully and happily.

Here's a simple method I use, namely a prayer:

'Higher Power, I hereby place in your hands my welfare in all areas, knowing that if you need me to take any action in my own interest you will tell me directly and clearly. I hereby surrender to you all perceptions, beliefs, and interpretations: please dissolve, revise, and replace them, where necessary, according to Your will. I hereby place under your direction the only two resources I have: my time and my innate talents moulded by experience, for deployment as You see fit, for the good of all.'

Repeat as necessary.