Judgement: the good, the bad and the — well, you know. . .

Our brains evolved (or were designed, if you must) to be judgmental, to assess situations at a glance and classify them as good or bad, dangerous or advantageous — just as you are doing with regard to the first part of this sentence. The ability to do this quickly and form opinions rapidly helped keep our ancestors alive in an uncertain world and assisted them in evaluating the relatively simple issues of their lives and the lives of those around them. They passed these abilities on to us. These inherent skills serve us well in many instances, but we have to be careful. Life is more complicated now.

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Okay, God . . . what am I supposed to be learning this time?

There’s an old saying something like, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”  That’s certainly inarguable logic, but most of the time it fails to lead to a valid conclusion.  Most people don’t care about us one way or the other.  Those who do care usually wish us well, as long as we’re not standing in the way of their comfort somehow.  The fact is, we’re not powerful enough — most of us, anyway — to make ripples in the lives of those who aren’t pretty close around us.

Assuming that we’re not annoying other folks enough to make them want to take time to mess us up, things continually going wrong in our lives usually mean that we aren’t properly interpreting the lessons that life is trying to teach us.  There are a lot of reasons for that, but most often they boil down to our not wanting to hear what the teacher is saying.  After all, it’s not only easier but far more comforting to attribute our misfortunes to bad luck or to someone’s ill-will or mistakes, rather than to look honestly at the part we had in them.

Everything that happens in our lives is a lesson.  Good, bad, or indifferent, there is always something to be learned.  The big question is not “Why Me?” but rather, “How can I honestly interpret this lesson and learn from it?”

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

The other day while I was washing a mortar and pestle in the bathroom sink (too complicated; don’t ask), I noticed that the heavy machined stainless steel pestle seemed to roll quite easily up and down the slope of the porcelain basin.  So I gave it a shove and watched as it kept oscillating up the slopes and down again for a surprisingly long time.  I cranked up the stopwatch on my phone (Imagine writing that 20 years ago!) gave the pestle a good shove, and timed it until it became stationary again.

The back and forth momentum lasted for 7 minutes and 24 seconds!

Later I was demonstrating the Miracle Of The Rolling Pestle to my-wife-the-shrink and got to thinking how important momentum is to recovery. Continue reading

Integrity

Dictionary.com defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”  

Way back in the ‘80’s during the real Miami Vice days, I knew a Dade County police officer whose beat was along the Miami River.  “Jorge” was offered $50,000 to take his lunch break at a particular time — one day, one time.  In those days, that was roughly equivalent to a year’s pay for a patrolman. Definitions are well and good, but when the bag man shows up with 50K and you have kids in school and a mortgage, it’s simpler than that: do I do the right thing,  despite the cost, or the wrong thing?

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A Little Exercise 

Personal responsibility is the foundation of the 12 Steps. In what way does each Step foster the development of our personal responsibility? 

(Feel free to list your ideas in the comments if you want to share them.)

Who Looks Outside Dreams

“Who looks outside dreams;
Who looks inside awakes.”
~ Carl Jung

blankmap-world-1ceSometimes Professor Jung sounds like a Buddhist teacher.  When the Buddha spoke of awakening or enlightenment, he meant the ability to see the world as it really is, uncolored by our opinions, fears, history, desires, and ambitions.  Jung’s statement is rather less detailed but no less true.

No one should be aware of and remain more aware of this than recovering addicts.  We are, by definition, people who looked — and may still tend to look — outside ourselves for the resolution of problems that have their roots inside.   Continue reading

A Long Thought for the Day

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the two-week hiatus from What…Me Sober?.  Moving from a big 2/2 apartment where you’ve lived for 25 years to a much smaller 1/1 is a complicated project, fraught with turmoil.  But that’s a story for another day, perhaps.

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The beauty and joy of life dwell within differences.
~ Answers in the Heart, April 1

Who wants to watch the same sunset every evening? Who wants to converse only with people who parrot our own thoughts and opinions?

Why do I imagine that I need opinions to begin with, or that they bear more validity than other people’s? Is it because I am afraid? Of what? Does being “wrong” threaten who I am?

And where did I get those opinions, anyway? Are they mine, or did I inherit them from others through lazy thinking — or due to rebellion?

What makes me so sure that I’m right?