Everything I Know I Learned from Someone Else

19 Apr



You may have heard it said, “This program has taught me how to live.”  It got me thinking: What are the basic tenets by which I live? Where did they come from? Is it true I didn’t know how to live before I found recovery?

Someone said in a meeting: “In order to have self esteem I have to do esteem-able acts.”  I used to think I won the lottery if a clerk accidently gave me back too much change. Then I heard a cashier in a meeting share about how his drawer was short and his pay got docked. This opened my eyes.  I discovered dysfunctional finders-keepers-ism and latent larceny in plenty of my actions: sneaking into parking spots instead of waiting my turn, helping myself to stuff I convinced myself was “free,” taking more than my share, the list is endless. If I saw someone else doing the things I was doing, I would lose respect for them. That’s when I realized that when I behave badly, I lose esteem for me. So if I want to feel good about myself, I can’t be doing that stuff.

My friend reads the Course in Miracles all the time. I am fortunate to be one of the recipients of her knowledge. When there is a conflict with someone, she reminds me that it is probably the ego that feels threatened. She tells me “whoever is closest to God apologizes first.” Naturally my ego believes it’s the closest to God, pushing me into apology.

Other important lessons from the Course are: “Every relationship is an assignment from God,” and “Whatever is missing from a relationship is what I fail to bring to it,” and “If it’s good for one then it’s good for everyone.” These are vital when difficulty with others arises. When we ponder whether we should open our mouths and speak, we put our words to the following test: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” Those words were passed on by Cynthia.

Spiritual truths are universal. Most people know that the Golden Rule—Do unto others as you would have them do unto you—is written in some form in different religions, from Christianity to Buddhism. (More here: Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

An old woman in an old TV movie passed this along: The police were setting up a stakeout from inside the woman’s home. They cautioned her that it was a dangerous operation and she would probably want to seek shelter in the back of the house. She shook her head, declaring, “Young man, it’s not the things I saw and did in my life that I regret, it’s the things I didn’t do and the things I didn’t see. I’m staying right here. I don’t want to miss this.” Don’t pass up opportunities that may only come once. The Latin term is Carpe Diem—Seize the day.

In my fourth treatment center, our counselor Chuck was speaking to the group. “You guys have addictive personalities. Why don’t you channel that into something worthwhile? Get addicted to eating healthy, to going regularly to the gym, to volunteering–something that will make you feel better instead of worse and have positive long-lasting effects.”

My friend Sam told me “We move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.” Be aware of our thoughts because they are directly related to how we feel. If we think we are not having a good time, we probably aren’t. Be careful what we keep in our heads. If we concentrate on doom and gloom we are certain to find it. But if we look for reasons to be grateful, we are rewarded. As the Great Book says, “Seek & ye shall find.”

Important to our interpersonal relationships is the knowledge that Sandy O. imparted to me: “We teach people how to treat us.” Understanding that we are in control of whether and how we get along with others makes for healthier interactions. Lori J. added that with people we have an inner circle, an outer circle and a platform for people who are launching into or out of our lives. Not everyone is going to be our best friend, and we won’t get invited to all the events. Don’t take it personally.

In an episode of Law & Order, one of the characters was left standing at the altar. Her coworker assured her that “Rejection is protection.” She had to undergo the immediate pain of abandonment and betrayal which may have saved her from years of agony in the future.

I believe I mentioned before that Claudia taught me “Everything everywhere is already all right.” Because as my morning meditation reminded me, we can view our problems as opportunities for growth and change instead of as reasons for feeling defeated. We use the tools we were taught in the steps: 1. Identify the problem. 2. Believe that a way out is available. 3. Seek guidance and implement the solution. 4. Take stock of our situation and look for our part in it. 5. Talk it over with someone we can trust. 6. Get ready to 7. Ask God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. 8. Decide where we need to be accountable and 9. Make reparations where necessary. And the rest of the steps teach us to not rest on our laurels, keep in touch with God, and spread the word by practicing the principles we’ve learned.

Guiding values can come from many sources. We keep our eyes, ears and our mind open and life-affirming philosophies can take the place of dysfunctional ones.

Thanks for reading.



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