Friday, March 13, 2009

Thinking positively

The natural flight of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope."
- Samuel Johnson -

I went to a good meeting yesterday. The topic was on being positive which was something that I needed to hear and share about.

I am a positive person but my exuberance for life can be a bit much at times. As one person shared yesterday, "Syd, I hated to be around people like you before I came into the program. I had nothing but negative thoughts and didn't want to be reminded of anything positive."

If I get too optimistic about life, then I start to build those expectations. And expectations lead to disappointment and then resentment. These are things that I know. And by understanding what is going on, there comes enlightenment about the triggers for my behavior.

I know that I would rather be optimistic than negative in outlook. But I also don't ascribe to the Pollyanna effect in which my optimism denies reality. I know I am not blind to bad situations. I don't try to turn the facts around to make things seem happy.

For me, actions speak louder than words. My wife is sober. I'm grateful. She doesn't believe in a Higher Power and has worked Step One and the second half of Step Twelve. I can't do much about that. I accept that she still has the disease of alcoholism.

I have been accused of not trusting her totally. I guess in a "normal" situation, I would be able to trust her. But ours is not a normal situation because one of us is an alcoholic and the other one has been severely affected by alcoholism. I know that her intentions are good. It does no good to build expectations that can't be met. Or to punish each other for unfulfilled promises. I know that we have each punished ourselves enough on our own.

So, as I've written before, the program takes practice. And here is what I keep practicing:
  • To say what I mean, mean what I say and not say it mean.
  • Not to stuff my feelings.
  • Not to cruelly punish others but to detach from them and yet still love them.
  • Not sink their ship but don't try to keep it afloat.
  • Allow others the dignity to face their own consequences -- as it is of their own making.
  • And most important put the focus back on myself. That is how I will keep a positive attitude going. If I look to other people to make me happy, I am going to be in a perpetual state of disappointment, anger, and frustration, and then look back and wonder where my life went.


  1. I'm an optimist & I will always have cetain expectations of a positive outcome. What the program does for me is help me accept the outcome if I am wrong.

  2. Awesome post. Just what I needed this morning.

  3. Those are excellent beliefs to live by.
    I think I'll steal a few.

  4. OMG, *kicks dirt*

    last statement sums up what I SHOULD be doing, even as I posted all about it today.

    THANK YOU...

  5. I'll say what one young lady in the program here says, when she hears something outstanding: "Hey, that's some 'good shit'"!

  6. Wunnerful, wunnerful, wunnerful. (aka Lawrence Welk) I love this post. Thank you. J.

  7. I prefer to be an optimist but I always anticipate the worst.

  8. My "mantra", since following the sobriety route, is "Keep my expectations low and my acceptance high."
    Strangely when I do that I find that I get more than I did when I set my mind on an expectation.

  9. You sound STRONG........ but no man is a ROCK.... and you know that .. and have your face-to-face groups to give you support .. and to share their individual ESH...

    Barbara's Streisand said it best, "People who need people are the luckiest people".

    Get what you can from each type of relationship you are in... and yes, keep being OPTIMISTIC in a REALISTIC manner. (that sounds like true Maturity).

    They say in Al-Anon keep Showing up to keep Growing Up.

    Enjoy each day....relish all the good...sounds like you are in a GOOD PLACE and when you do lose your serenity you have the tools to get it back now.

  10. I'm an optimist, but I've recently realized my optimism isn't dependent on a particular outcome. I guess in that way, my expectations are flexible. Or it's a sort of defensive optimism whereby I'm prepared for things going a multitude of unexpected ways, none of which necessarily have to be considered 'bad.'

  11. I like this topic. It reinforces what I have found to be true, we experience our lives through our thoughts and the healthier they are the healthier our lives.

  12. I have found that if I can change my mind I can do anything

  13. "not to sink their ship but don't try to keep it afloat". I don't think I've heard that one...I love that....both are vitally important and equally tempting at times...

  14. Great post. I agree with Cat completely.jeNN

  15. as much and often as i have my dark moods, i do, however, instinctively swing to the positive and upbeat. and that goes hand in hand with being around positive and happy people. i guess that's why i hang around here, thank you syd!

  16. Thanks for the reminder words. I've been carrying a resentment about something I am powerless over. Your list was a pep talk I needed to read. Thanks from a double-winner.

  17. Syd, your bullet list expresses beautifully what I've learned through the last year in my program. It's just one of the reasons I am finally strong enough to stand up for myself while still loving the people who are against what I stand for. I don't hate them, but I don't need to be abused by them.

    Wonderful post...D

  18. Thank you for this Syd. I think expectations are good. They make life interesting, exciting. The problem came for me when I built the future on the certainty of those expectations. I have had to learn to place the future in Gods hands. The work is down to me, the outcome is down to God. It means that if I am focussed on me, then pain usually follows. Take my eyes off me and put them on to God and I can never be let down.


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