Saturday, February 28, 2009

Living with Disapproval

Here's what I've learned from practicing living with disapproval:

For starters, disapproval from someone is a great time to self-examine to see what truth there is in what they think. There's always some truth, and since I got good at self examination, I find the truth very useful for self improvement. I define being good at self-examination as being able to see myself as I am without pain from seeing my imperfections. I am very imperfect. I've gotten used to that fact. Sometimes it's embarrassing, but usually not painful. I can use the energy I would have used to kick myself to make needed changes in myself.

Then, living with disapproval also motivates me to do a daily inventory on how I've treated other people. Sometimes it takes a bunch of days for me to get to my real motives for what I do, but I tend to grow in respect for other people as I work on this. Slowly; sometimes quickly, I get my side of the street clean with the person who's disapproving of me by treating him/her with respect. This REALLY helps me not take their disapproval personally. As my dear husband used to say, "If I call you a whore, does that make you one?" (His sommaries of spiritual truths tended to be fairly colorful.)

Eventually, usually after some considerable time and effort on my part, I begin to gain some compassion for the other person. There's almost a 100% chance that they are judging me because they are afraid of me in some way. About all I can do about that is to be as harmless as I possibly can and continue to treat them with respect.
Through all this I get happier and more peaceful. Which, by the way, can drive the disapproving person nuts.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

When I was very young I was horribly shy and thought I was a very unlikeable person. So, of course, I was backward. Once I was in recovery my first sponsor just kept telling me that it wasn't about what other people thought of me. It was about what I had to contribute to others and whether I was asking for God's will in my life and trying to live it. She said my focus was self-centered which always leads to fear and upset. So, since I was tired of being fearful, I started trying to live the way she suggested. Of course I am pretty imperfect at it, but she was right - I am a happy person when I'm living that way.

Once in awhile, someone who is important in my life disapproves of me. It's only happened a very few times in the last 25 years since I've been in recovery. When it does, I always try to explain (defend myself), but it never has worked. So far, once they've made up their minds that I need to be straightened out, they stick with it. Once the person was my boss, and I finally decided that I was in that job to learn how to live with disapproval when I was as sure as was possible that my side of the street was clean. Eventually that situation got better when the person got feedback from other people that disagreed with her take on me. Once again I have an important person in my life disapproving of me. As far as I'm able to tell, my side of the street is clean. I don't like it but apparently I need another lesson in living with disapproval.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Today was a good day for progress. Although I've spent the last couple of days resting my back without checking much off my todo/self-discipline list, I'm feeling quite grateful. I accompanied my youngest daughter to a new doctor - a neurologist - and was very pleased with what he had to say and with what kind of person he seems to be. I rarely mention my two youngest - a daughter and a son - because I try to keep my posts short and explanations about my two youngest do not lend themselves to short posts. Suffice it to say for this post that my youngest daughter, who is 37, has a long dreary history of neurological problems, beginning at one year of age. Because she has multiple disabilities, finding a doctor of any kind that would treat her like she was a real human has been an almost impossible struggle. We found this one because he has several other adults with severe disabilities as patients. So, today is a good day for progress. My daughter's well-being depends greatly on the personality, philosophy and skills of her physicians. When she's without good ones, I'm always worried about her at some level. Today I feel a weight being lifted! Yay!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Self Discipline Discovery

This is me when I've finished my "todolist!" Only once in my life have I ever finished a list and I had to stay up almost 24 hours to do it. So, my latest self-discipline project is to just try to do something on the list every day. Baby steps in other words. My list has now shrunk to just one 8 1/2 by 11 inch page. Incredible. I've never had such a short list. And this is while giving first priority to "rest." I've discovered that it is just no use at all to try to do anything unless I've had sufficient rest. In the process of recovery from injury, rest needed can vary enormously from day to day. For example, yesterday was a day when after 11:30 I just rested. Didn't do another thing except answer a couple of phone calls. Read a little bit. Fixed myself a small amount of food. Slept and watched mindless tv. In the past this behavior would have been accompanied by intense and miserable guilt and self-loathing which in turn would wear me out. Yesterday I just accepted that for some unknown reason I needed a huge amount of rest. I feel much more energetic today. It's a weird way to describe self-discipline, but allowing myself to rest almost all day and all night without guilt required all my self-discipline.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sublime 2009 update

I think this is going to be the year I'm able to walk without support. I'm still doing physical therapy and working on discarding the cane a little at a time. As has happened several times in the past, my back goes out and I have to work with that and it slows me down. However, I'm doing well over all. This journey has been slow, but I have no complaints. It's time for me to take more shoes to the shoe repair place and have them built up on the right side to compensate for my shorter leg. Walking without the cane when there's no compensation for the difference in my legs makes me lurch a bit. I'm working on graceful walking!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Serenity Experiments updated

I've missed quite a few meetings this week. My wellbeing actually shows it. Physically I haven't been up to par and have used that as an excuse to stay home. Of course, as some part of me knew, I would have been better off to take my less-than-well body to a meeting. Nevertheless, I drove 4 1/2 hours to celebrate my granddaughter's 15th birthday and it was surely worth it. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the grandchildren's lives. I remember very well the day she was born. She yelled loudly until she wore herself out and went to sleep. She had the biggest blue eyes I had ever seen in my life! Even the yelling is a happy memory.

Friday, February 06, 2009

More on Self Discipline

Change/self discipline or anything else related is difficult, or nearly impossible for me. I am a truly undisciplined person. So I am in a constant struggle with myself to improve in this area. It seems to me that there are two parts to work on - one is composed of the day-to-day chores that if left undone or done late create chaos and messes everywhere - such as paying the bills, doing the dishes and laundry, making the bed, errands - and on and on. Then there's the part that's composed of the actions or non-actions that move my life forward or keep it on hold - such as anything to do with work or creativity and my spiritual practices.

My usual way of handling these areas is to bounce back and forth, with one or the other taking precedence but not really getting anywhere with either area until the chaos and messes catch up and my fear of consequences causes me to take action. Around the first of every year I vow to clean these things up and every year I make a tiny bit of progress and then go backward. For the last three years I've had a wonderful excuse - my recovery from the wreck. But truly I've needed every bit of self-discipline I could summon to do the work of recovery. So here I am at the beginning of another year with the goal of improving in the area of self-discipline. This time I'm really looking at what the barriers are and looking for ways to get over or around them.

Some of my barriers are just expecting myself to "just do it" when I don't have the information on how to "just do it." Some of my deficits of information are time management skills, the need for really thinking through what I want to do and visualizing these activities, and practicing them. Then there's the problem of "why" and I've been using the "if I were a good person I would be self-disciplined" motivation. That always fails. Maybe a better "why" would be that I could build a better life for myself with better self-discipline. Another barrier is my self-image as a free spirit. In my mind, free spirits don't practice self discipline. It really messes up my image of myself badly. But I think free spirits like myself probably spend way too much time in chaos and trying to clean up messes caused by lack of self-discipline. This free spirit could use the extra time created by practicing self-discipline to be free.

Sublime 2009 - the year of my freedom from chaos and messes!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Self Discipline, continued

"Self-discipline is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger you become. The less you train it, the weaker you become. Just as everyone has different muscular strength, we all possess different levels of self-discipline. Everyone has some — if you can hold your breath a few seconds, you have some self-discipline. But not everyone has developed their discipline to the same degree." Steve Pavlina

Steve suggests we start developing the muscle of self-discipline from wherever we are at this point. Then he gives us a way of inventorying where we are. I really hate this:

Do you shower/bathe every day?
Do you get up at the same time every morning? Including weekends?
Are you overweight?
Do you have any addictions (caffeine, nicotine, sugar, etc.) you’d like to break but haven’t?
Is your email inbox empty right now?
Is your office neat and well organized?
Is your home neat and well organized?
How much time do you waste in a typical day? On a weekend?
If you make a promise to someone, what’s the percentage chance you’ll keep it?
If you make a promise to yourself, what’s the percentage chance you’ll keep it?
Could you fast for one day?
How well organized is your computer’s hard drive?
How often do you exercise?
What’s the greatest physical challenge you’ve ever faced, and how long ago was it?
How many hours of focused work do you complete in a typical workday?
How many items on your to do list are older than 90 days?
Do you have clear, written goals? Do you have written plans to achieve them?
If you lost your job, how much time would you spend each day looking for a new one, and how long would you maintain that level of effort?
How much TV do you currently watch? Could you give up TV for 30 days?
How do you look right now? What does your appearance say about your level of discipline (clothes, grooming, etc)?
Do you primarily select foods to eat based on health considerations or on taste/satiety?
When was the last time you consciously adopted a positive new habit? Discontinued a bad habit?
Are you in debt? Do you consider this debt an investment or a mistake?
Did you decide in advance to be reading this blog right now, or did it just happen?
Can you tell me what you’ll be doing tomorrow? Next weekend?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your overall level of self-discipline?
What more could you accomplish if you could answer that last question with a 9 or 10?

I have a little work to do in these areas. Of course, this is only one guy's opinion about self-discipline, but these are not bad ideas for developing self-discipline.

More to come.

Serenity Experiments update

I'm continuing the experiment of going to a meeting every day through the month of February. I legitimately missed three meetings due to ice. And then I missed a couple due to being checked out. Now I'm back on track with a meeting every day. I can't really tell whether I'm actually doing myself any BIG good, but certainly I am reminded every day that I am in need of conscious contact with God. By being reminded every day, I keep turning over my thoughts, emotions, and problems to God. What a blessing. I am reminded of the very real fact that I am a lot more powerless than I like to think, but that God is powerful and can run my world and THE world quite well.

Monday, February 02, 2009

If we waste time and energy talking about past injustices or old mistakes, we are unwittingly calling them back into our lives. We are bringing back garbage that should have been discarded permanently to make room for better things. ~Walk in Dry Places.

It took a lot of years in recovery before I was able to use the tools of the program to rid my mind of past injustices and old mistakes - mine or other people's. I am so grateful for the people I'm surrounded with who remind me when I get stuck there again. The only useful thing about thinking and talking about injustices and mistakes is to learn what I need to learn so that I don't repeat them and let other people off the hook for theirs. After that - I can enjoy my life.

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