Do you like yourself? – Episode 279

Do you like yourself?
Can you love yourself?
Can you trust yourself?

In a recent meeting, the topic was Step 5, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” One member shared that she often had a hard time even liking herself, and that this was a barrier to working Step 5. If she hated herself for some of the things she had done, how could she ever admit them out loud?

I definitely identified with that feeling. There are some events in my life that I felt a lot of shame about. That I did not admit in my first 5th step. One, in particular, that I didn’t admit in my second 5th step, had haunted me for over 30 years. Every time I remembered that incident, a flush of shame and self-loathing washed over me. Finally, probably after a meeting in which the reading included the saying that “we are only as sick as our secrets,” I realized I had to talk about it. I met with the person I had done that 5th step with and said “I’ve got some more.”

It wasn’t easy. I had admitted it to my Higher Power and to myself, but never to another person. But it was something I felt I had to do. The amazing thing is that since that time, the memory of this event has lost its power over me! I’m still not pleased that it happened, but I don’t feel the shame that it used to impose on me. That hard admission brought me some peace and some more love and compassion for myself. Even for the 40-years-younger me that made a really poor decision (doing the best with what he had.)

And then, a day later, the sermon topic was “Trust Thyself”. Oh, boy, there’s a message: loving myself and trusting myself, all in the same weekend. You know, the feelings I have that lead me to not like myself and to not trust myself are very similar. You’ve probably heard those messages from the judgey part of yourself, too: “You’re not good enough.” “You can’t do it right.” “You can’t do it at all.” “You’re always wrong.” “You’re so stupid.” “What were you thinking? I can’t believe you’d do that!” And so on, and so on.

In her sermon, our minister presented the “4 Cs” of trusting yourself. Well, I’m a sucker for alliterations, so I perked right up! What are these 4 Cs?

Clarity: Seeing ourselves and the world for what we (and it) really are. In the program, this is Step 4 (probably 5, 6, and 7 too.) Also, Steps 8 and 9 bring more clarity.

Connection: Get out of my isolation. I know that I can’t always see myself clearly, and I need someone else to help me. In other words, go to a meeting, call a friend, get a sponsor (and use them!) And, of course, there’s the connection to a Higher Power we find in Steps 2 and 3!

Compassion: This is also about getting out of myself. When I can have compassion for other people, and when I can identify with their fears and pain, but also their joys and successes, then I can start to see the same in myself. And I can start to have compassion for myself. I would never talk to someone else the way that I sometimes talk to myself.

Commitment: Make a commitment to keep away from the negative self-talk, to continue to work on the first 3 Cs. Step 10 is my commitment to continuing to seek clarity. Steps 11 and 12 are commitments to connection and compassion.

Yup, there’s the recovery part of the program (steps 2-12) captured in 4 Cs. How did this work in my Step 5 experience?

I gained clarity by taking an inventory of the incident. What was motivating me? Which of my needs were involved? I began to understand the “exact nature of my wrongs” in this incident. In talking with my friend, I got a little more clarity as I explained what happened, but I also made connection with another person — I was not alone. That person’s loving acceptance of my sharing deepened that connection, and assured me that I was not a broken person. This helped me to have compassion for my previous self. And you know what? I liked myself a little better. And I trusted myself to be able to do the right thing a little more.

Readings and links

I read from Courage to Change, May 22 and January 24.

After the service, I was talking to the  minister and she mentioned Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I was pretty sure I had mentioned that here, and indeed: episode 122, Imperfection.

Upcoming

Thinking about acronyms and alliterations as a topic. You know, acronyms like QTIP, FEAR, etc. Alliterations like “3 As”, “4 Ms”, etc. What is your favorite Al-Anon acronym or alliteration? Why? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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*maintaining serenity – a guest meditation by Ruth

 

If you planning to do something, become aware of what you really going to do. For example when you plan to go to the natatorium, than imagine how it is there, how people bespatter you with water, pushing you back and forth, accuse you and steal from you. But you will go there in peace and feeling safe, when you remind yourself upfront that you want to stick to your moral conviction. This aligns you with human sanity. This approach applies to everything else. Then when something is really disturbing you, you can say to yourself. I didn’t want to go only to take a bath but I wanted also to practice my moral convictions which makes me sane. This won’t happen if I let myself get upset by those incidents.

Epictetus – The Enchiridion

 

Epictetus was a late stoic philosopher who lived from about 50 to 130 after Christ. When I came first to Al Anon, I recognized that the program contains a lot of ancient wisdom; this made me feel comfortable early on. On the other hand, to know that human beings are struggling with the same issues since ancient times made me feel as thought I am part of a chain of humans from the past to the present.

My home group meets in a parish hall near the oldest church in town, the fundaments of which date back to the 9th century.When I arrive early enough before the meeting, I get into the church and sit there for awhile. Then, I think that all of the prayers which have been spoken around this place are still there and I have a feeling of being connected to the time, location, and the human beings around me. When I am on the street again, trying to make my way, I am much more relaxed looking at the other people and knowing that they are also just on their way.

 

A meditation for September 20, 2013.

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ego – a meditation

 

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.
Eckhart Tolle

When I was early in my program of recovery, someone once told me that I am not my feelings, I am not my thoughts. I remember thinking “what the heck does that mean??” I had not yet understood that all of my fears, judgments, thoughts, and emotions are part of my ego and I am more than my ego. My ego is how I learned deal with the world. Beneath that, there is my soul. On the soul level, I do not try to process the world through emotions and fears. Instead, I feel connected to it. I am part of it. That is the part of me I try to connect to when I reach out to my Higher Power through prayer and meditation. I try to accept and be a part of and connected to rather than setting myself aside as less than or better than. Instead, I can just be and allow my surroundings to just be.

Today, in recovery, I will try to accept my environment rather than try to judge it. I sometimes forget that my Higher Power communicates with me through people and situations whether or not they are tied to a program of recovery. Today, I will try to remember that and treat every situation, whether as I judge it as good or bad, as a gift from my Higher Power.

A meditation for July 30, 2013

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meditation – a meditation

 

Meditation is not passive sitting in silence. It is sitting in awareness, free from distraction, and realizing the clear understanding that arises from concentration.

Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Prayer and meditation is recommended in the program by way of Step 11. However, meditation is not something that comes easily to me. Growing up, I was always taking care of several different things at once without a moment to stop and think or reflect. And honestly, back then, I never needed to do that. I never needed to reflect on my life because I always tried to reflect what other people wanted me to be. And I couldn't do that by sitting alone with my eyes closed and thinking about what it is that I need to do for myself.

So, needless to say, sitting still and not accomplishing anything tangible for any period of time scares me. It is strange to say “meditation scares me” but it is true. Without a million things to do, there is just me alone with myself. And when I meditate I am alone with myself and seek the truth and a greater understanding of what my next purpose is. That is so contrary to my life growing up that I am completely out of my element. I even feel guilty at times when I try to meditate because taking that time for myself feels selfish.

But my best thinking got me into recovery, so when my Sponsor suggested meditation, I did the next right thing. I accepted that I was scared and uncomfortable and did it anyway. I am still nowhere near perfect at it, but every time I do it, my hesitancy decreases a little more. Meditation doesn't help me to quiet my mind. My mind is still just as noisy. It used to feel like I was in a busy crowd and hearing so many noises in my head. Those noises are still there. But when I meditate, I feel like I am still in a crowd but instead I feel that I am having a conversation with my Higher Power. And all the other chatter becomes background noise. I am able to sit in awareness. And I am no longer lost. I no longer need to be afraid. Sitting quietly doesn't mean I sit for quietly and drown in the voices in my head. Meditation now means I find my own voice in my connection to my Higher Power. And it is time that is always well-spent.

A meditation for July 29, 2013.

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