Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I Always Grow Through Pain

This is from AA’s Daily Reflections, a book by alcoholics for alcoholics:
In the Reflection for October 7 the meditation is entitled Daily Monitoring. “The spiritual axiom referred to in the Tenth Step  – ‘every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us’ – also tells me that there are no exceptions to it. No matter how unreasonable others may seem, I am responsible for not reacting negatively. Regardless of what is happening around me I will always have the prerogative and the responsibility of choosing what happens within me. I am the creator of my own reality.
“When I take my daily inventory, I know that I must stop judging others. If I judge others, I am probably judging myself. Whatever is upsetting me most is my best teacher. I have much to learn from him/her, and in my heart I should thank that person.”
The Tenth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous states: “[We] Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” Hmmm – Continued to take personal inventory. Hmmm – continued to look within to “fix” whatever is wrong. Notice that the emphasis is NOT on trying to “fix” what’s “out there.” It is always an inside job.
AA has taught me that I always grow through pain. The exception, of course, is when I spend all my mental energy blaming and judging everything and everyone “out there” for my discomfort. When I do that, I also spend a tremendous amount of mental and emotional energy plotting, planning, fantasizing, and mentally meting out the just rewards of my revenge.
I try always to remember the little “as” in the Lord’s Prayer: …Forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us…. If you believe the typical images of many Christians’ idea of Judgment Day, you better believe I don’t want God to forgive me the way I forgive.
The easiest way for me to forgive is to never have blamed in the first place. For me to not blame is to focus on what was going on inside me. Why did I choose to react rather than respond? My anger, fear, dislike, disappointment is not with the person or event that triggered it. A Course in Miracles teaches me I am never truly upset for the reason I think. So, if it wasn’t the person or event, what was it? That’s what I try to focus on. That’s where the pain lies. That’s where my growth occurs.
I will be out of pocket for the next two weeks. I’ll talk to you later.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#2 October 2014

Copyright, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Using Tools To Save My Life

Last week’s angry outburst [Msg-4-Sep-2014; Cunning, Baffling and Powerful Felix ] threw me off kilter. I shared my frustrations and disappointments with myself at my favorite AA meeting.  As members of the Fellowship shared their experience and strength, some clarification began to take shape in me. Being as honest as I could the meeting helped me begin getting back on track.
I discussed recently [Msg-4-Aug-2014; The Power Of The 3 R’s] the process of Recognize, Release, and Relax. Recognizing my childish ego, who I have named Felix, requires some mental discipline and honest self-knowledge. Releasing also requires some discipline to use the spiritual tools I have in my toolbox, but often forget about. Relaxing requires only an honest willingness on my part to listen for the Voice or intuitive whisper of the Holy Spirit to provide me some guidance.
I have learned in A Course In Miracles (ACIM) that I am never upset or angry for the reason I think. AA has also taught me, in the Fourth and Fifth Steps, to conduct an honest moral inventory. So the first thing I focus on either during an outburst of anger or shortly thereafter is: “What role am I playing  (or have played) in this episode?” Then I ask, “What am I afraid of?” because behind my anger is shame, guilt and fear. ALWAYS. In short, it’s always an inside job. The episode will either continue to upset me or it will become a teaching moment – not about the episode, or the others in it, but about me.
The events or people outside me are not the cause of my anger and frustration. So I look honestly inside myself for what is going on. Connected behind my anger is shame and guilt and fear. I have not done enough or I have not done enough well enough or I simply am not enough. Behind my shame lies an ocean of amorphous guilt. OMG! Someone might see the real me. How embarrassing that would be! I spend a lot of time and energy deflecting criticism, justifying, and defending my “pretend” me. I want to really know you, while keeping you from knowing the true me. My innermost thoughts from Felix allow me to be an all-knowing absolute judge of you, yet I deflect any praise you might throw at me. I believe the more superior I act the less you’ll discover the scared little boy inside. AA says this very, very simply in this way: “I am an ego-maniac with an inferiority complex.” Behind that guilt is fear – something I have may be taken away or something will not materialize that I think I deserve to have.
I began to understand that my angry outburst was an outlet for a simmering resentment that had little to do with the episode, itself. I have learned to pray for the person or situation around which my resentment revolves. I was reminded of that at the meeting. I have learned to ask the God of my understanding to remove my shortcomings – my resentment, my shame, and my guilt – just for today.  That reminder also surfaced at the meeting. I have learned in ACIM to focus my attention on the whispers of intuitive guidance rather than on the justifications and rationalizations Felix will concoct to explain the absolute truth of my resulting resentments. Felix can make a case for any emotion/feeling I have. I simply need to continue learning to recognize him and then to ignore him.
A recent post from The Wisdom of the Rooms by Michael Z [] was quite helpful and says in another voice what I’m trying to say here. “One of the biggest gifts I've been given in recovery is the ability to pause when I'm feeling anxious, angry or judgmental and ask myself what I'm afraid of…. It didn't always used to be this way. For years whenever I was feeling out of sorts, I looked outside of myself for the cause. There was always someone not doing things my way, or someone acting worse than I was, and it was easy to point out their faults to make myself feel better. Needless to say, I had more resentments than friends, and when I entered the program I was angry and alone.
“What I've learned in recovery is that whenever I'm feeling irritable, restless or discontented, it is always because I'm in self-centered fear and spiritually disconnected from my Higher Power. The ability to recognize this has literally changed my life, … If I'm OK with me, I have no need to make you wrong.
These tools, I believe, are very practical methods to live within the principles and truth of ACIM. The principles of A Course In Miracles coupled with the tools of Alcoholics Anonymous are saving my life. I’m very blessed by them. I cannot begin to imagine going through what I’ve been through without these principles and tools.
What gifts! What a journey!
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#1 October 2014

Copyright, 2014