In the opening for Al-Anon meetings, there is a line that says, “In Al-Anon we learned to keep the focus on ourselves”. I’ve found that is a hard thing to do especially having lived with alcoholism. In Courage to Change, there is a daily reading that basically says that many of us in came to Al-Anon with a compulsion to focus on other people. Many of us had a clear idea of how everyone should behave in every situation and felt very self-righteous when they didn’t follow my rules of conduct. When we realized that our own lives were being neglected because all our attention was elsewhere we had to make some major changes.
I'm still learning how to mind my own business and not that of the alcoholic. For many of us, when thoughts begin with “He should” or “She shouldn’t” , then we are slipping back into minding someone else's business. I don’t have the answers for other people. We don't make the rules for the behavior of others or any facet of their life. If I start getting caught up in what they should or should not do, I have lost my humility. I have also ceased to pay attention to myself. Nine times out of ten, I am focusing on someone else to avoid looking at something in my own life. Generally, for me it is fear that is raising its head. I know that I generally relate to others better when I allow them to be exactly as they are and keep focusing on what I'm doing.
I know that I have been very focused over the years on the behavior of the alcoholic. I’ve been either angry, embarrassed, or obsessed with what the alcoholic was doing. During those years, I paid less attention to good things about myself, instead I was very self-critical and not very forgiving of myself. What this program is teaching me is to stop looking out and start looking in.