I am willing to change myself, my actions, my reactions, my way of thinking and that is one reason the Al-Anon program works for me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work on my timeline or as fast as I would like.
I’ve always said Al-Anon is like an onion. I learn it one translucent thin layer at a time. Each time I peel off a new layer I learn it at a deeper level.
Sometimes taking a deep and moral inventory of ourselves reveals character strengths, but recently it revealed a character defect that almost brought me to tears. It was a hard pill to swallow when I realized, once again, I have many of the same defects that my father had. I remember the first time I learned this lesson. I was in my twenties. I cried my eyes out for weeks. When it was revealed to me once again two decades later it was difficult but I see it at a deeper level.
Often I need to keep relearning lessons. I really hate this, but it is what it is.
The first time I realized I was just like my father, minus the alcohol, I learned a bit of what not to do. This time I am learning what I should be doing instead.
It seems to me we all have at least one area of our life we just aren’t happy with. Maybe it’s our relationship, our finances, our career, our physical or our emotional health. I found myself thinking how did I get here? Again! How did this happen? Again! What is it I am supposed to be learning from this? Why does my Higher Power keep placing me in this situation or placing me with certain personality types? What mistake am I repeating over and over and over? I don’t set out to fail. Or do I?
When I stopped to ask myself where do I want to go? What do I want to accomplish? What is my desired outcome? I found out I wasn’t on the path I thought I was. The next layer of my onion has revealed to me I “just want” things. I didn’t have a plan or the tools to get there. I didn’t know what actions to take to accomplish those goals. I’m not sure exactly what I thought would happen. Maybe I thought these things would happen by magic. I had an unrealistic expectation of “ask and you shall receive.”
It turns out I have been on the path of good intentions. What is that famous saying? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions?” For me the word hell can be swapped with whatever it is in my life I am dissatisfied with; relationship, finances, career, health.
How many times have I said to myself I’d like to lose a few pounds (again)? Then eat two (ok three) hot cookies fresh from the oven? How often have a said I wish I had a better job, but never did the extra work or sought out the training to achieve it? Do I need help around the house or from a co-worker? Did I ask for that help? Or did I expect them to “just know” without communicating my needs? There have been many people over the course of my life I wished treated me better, but I was unable to set the boundaries to make that happen. Why is this “path” concept so difficult to apply and understand?
There is often a disconnect between my intentions and my reality and achievements. Prior to Al-Anon I didn’t know any other way to live or think. I thought if I’m not a genius at least I have common sense. Yet I continued to make the same choices, communicate the same way, and react the same way. I wasn’t changing myself.
I was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? No wonder other people thought I was crazy. Now I try to focus on what is my part in my own unhappiness? Why is my dream, my wish, my intention failing?
I used to hate the saying; God helps those who help themselves. I have finally learned it was because I didn’t know how to help myself. I needed to change myself. I needed a new path.
I was asking my Higher Power for help, but refused to change when the answer was provided. And that is how I kept ending up in that same predicament again and again. I wanted to control. I wanted to be right. I wanted it my way even though my way of thinking continually brought me unhappiness.
If you find yourself talking back to characters on TV….. Don’t go up those stairs that is where the guy with a chainsaw is hiding. Yelling at your team to throw the ball or use a Hail Mary. Ask yourself if you are still trying to get other people to do it your way. Ask yourself if you are taking your own advice. And if not you just learned why you are still suffering.
We have to do the work. It only works when you work it and it sucks when you don’t as we say in Al-Anon. Be honest with yourself about the path you are on. Am I asking myself the right questions? Are the right thoughts and actions capturing your attention or is your focus still on another?
Have you ever watched or read an interview where they asked the hero of the story, why did you do it and the reply came back …if I can only help one person then it was worth it? Why don’t we realize that by changing ourselves we are already helping one person? Ourselves. My happiness is worth it. My forward progress is worth it. I’m worth it. I will never tell you changing will be easy, but I will always tell you it’s worth it.
Go ahead and ask your Higher Power for help AND be willing to take a new path and then you shall receive.
“Direction not intention determines destination.” Andy Stanley