Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stop looking out and start looking in

In the opening for Al-Anon meetings, there is a line that says, “In Al-Anon we learned to keep the focus on ourselves”. What a foreign concept that was to me when I first began.  I had my focus on everyone but myself.  My identity was tied up in work, my wife's drinking, my friends and their drama, and on and on.  I’ve been either angry, embarrassed, or obsessed with what they were 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.

I thought that I had the answers to how everyone should behave in every situation and felt very self-righteous when they didn’t follow my rules of conduct.  Well, needless to say, this attitude met with a lot of resistance from others.  And then I would get angry because no one really appreciated what I was doing.

One of the promises of the program that has come true for me is that I have found acceptance.  I have learned to mind my own business and not that of others.  It is clear to me now that I don't have the answers for other people.  I cannot make the rules for the behavior of others or any facet of their life.  I no longer find myself getting caught up in what they should or should not do.  If I do start to follow that train of thought, then I am losing 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.

This program is teaching me is to stop looking out and start looking in.


  1. I dunno, F.I.N.E., I'm pretty sure *I* actually do know what's best for everyone else in any given situation . . . Let me tell you what your problem is - (J/K!)

  2. it becomes easy to lose yourself in looking out for becomes easy to hide as well. someone else neds the help more tha we do. yeah, i am in trouble at that point...

  3. When I truly got it that I cannot know what is going on in someone else and how they got to where they are, I realized they had to take care of their own stuff and I had to be honest with my own stuff. It freed me up in one way and gave me a focus I never had before.

  4. 'One of the promises of the program that has come true for me is that I have found acceptance. I have learned to mind my own business and not that of others.'

    sage wisdom it...


  5. As you know Syd,I do not attend meetings but adopted my Mom's Al-Anon book(Courage to Change)
    and every page offers me ways to look within me-because I am not only powerless over others lives-but they deserve to learn and find their way through life and soul searching on their own.Just like I did.

    This post hit a spot with me-inside me-thanks for the reminder :)


  6. Acceptance, that's such a BIG deal for me right now. I'm pretty good w/ expectations...but, am grieving SO much life lost in our family from the effects of alcohol. Now is when I need to live and have some acceptance.

  7. Oh, Syd. Today is the day. I will be thinking of you all day. And I will await your post about it - hoping of course that you will write about it.

    Thanks for writing about practicing the principles and not the anger and the blame and the other stuff. I really appreciate you. <3 - that's a heart.

  8. it is hard to keep the focus on yourself. I am an alcoholic wife and my husband chooses not to go to Al-Anon. By the grace of God I have 310 days of sobriety and I'm doing my very best to work the steps and practice the principles in all my afairs. but everyday is different. I appreciate blogs like yours so we can all see every side of this disease.

  9. Great post Syd. I always thought I was being "helpful" but all I was doing is imposing my agenda on everyone else. It's tough to stay within the boundaries of self, but my sponsor reminds me "If you are having issues with someone else you better make sure your house is clean first". And yes, almost always the problem lies within me. Hoping you have a great weekend.

  10. Syd,
    This is a very helpful post for me right now. Thank you.

    I love the photo of the cat. Is it one of yours?


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