Saturday, October 15, 2011

Principles above personalities

It is a beautiful day here. The rains from earlier in the week have moved out, leaving bright blue skies and a nice breeze.

I called my sponsor this morning. The home phone is now disconnected as he is leaving today to drive across country. In 3-4 days he will arrive at his new home.

I did a barrier island tour for a group of people from one of the nearby resort islands on Thursday. One fellow was complaining about how labor unions have ruined this country. He used the example of his visit to China where rickshaw drivers will work all year just to buy a color TV. He thought that was great. I realize that some days people appear in my life just to test the idea of placing principles above personalities.

I have had a tendency all my life to speak my truth. In the past, this was blunt, no nonsense truth as I saw it. I really didn't care who I angered. These days I practice restraint of tongue and pen. I can listen, even though I vehemently may disagree. I do express my opinion but not in a way that is confrontational or dismissive. Believe me, it takes work. But I do my best to remember that I cannot change the mind of another. I can state my own view without being disagreeable or rude--most of the time.

Every day is an opportunity to work on myself and my attitude. I so clearly see that enlightenment takes work, practice, and desire for growth.


  1. My friend, we live in a dangerous new time with two entirely separate realities: that spewed by Faux News, and Reality. You heard Faux News on the tour. My guess is that he is not rich, and is allowing the rich to lead him into a trap where he'll be driving one of those rickshaws, and wondering how it happened.

  2. Interesting, Syd. Like you, I have a tendency to be VERY blunt.

    Now I try very hard to keep my mouth shut because like you said, you cannot change someone else's mind at all. You can only change what comes out of your own mouth.

    It makes it easier (since "get along" with people better if you keep your mouth somewhat shut) but on the other hand you feel like a fraud for not being the outspoken person you genuinely are... however I have no energy for drama of any kind any more. All "drama" I have is reserved for my blog.

    Speaking of my blog I am quite sure it is not "approved" by some in my family but it is MINE and mine alone. I really wish they didn't know about it since it is my battle to fight, this horrible loss of my daughter to alcoholism. I can't shut up about that.

    I have learned a lot from you and Lou, and I thank you both for it.

  3. Well, to put it bluntly, assholes rarely turn into non-assholes.
    But the temptation to them they are assholes is so huge...

  4. I might get the restraint part down some day Syd...LOL.

    By reading here, and working on myself in other ways, I actually have gotten better. So many of the arguments and confrontations I could get involved in on a given day are pointless.

  5. yes it is an opportunity to work on ourselves...i used to be much the same way as well...i think i am getting better...

  6. To disagree without being disagreeable. This, my friend, is the evidence of a man confident in his beliefs and in himself. :)

  7. The longer I'm in program, the more loving I become. I'm not the easily angered person I once was, and for that, I'm deeply grateful.
    I can't change other people, so why try?

  8. Just checking in, catching up with you. That business about restraint of tongue and pen has been my mantra, especially as I learn to live with a family newly fractured by what I see as sick actions by others and the injustice of what they've "done to me." It's hard work, being responsible for myself and attempting to practice forgiveness for their shortcomings, when I want to be morally outraged. I want to speak Truth and Justice everywhere.

    Then, in some 10th-step work, I found this line on page 92 of the 12x12:
    "It is pointless to become angry, or to get hurt by people who, like us, are suffering from the pains of growing up."

    It seems suddenly much easier when I remember that we are all, to some degree, suffering children who are growing up at different paces, with differing limitations. At the end of the day, my sponsor says, God is loving on "them" as much as he is loving on me. Thinking of my circumstances this way has given me a great deal of restraint in hard situations.

    In 12-step programs, we live self-examined lives ~ a rarity in this world ~ because we have to if we're going to have some measure of serenity. It's hard work, as you say. But it's the only way I've found to live at peace in myself.

    Wishing you the best.

  9. Syd I am so tired of hearing how Unions have destroyed the country. in '08 the first negotiated concessions of which there were many were done in a collective bargaining situation. I agree that in 60 years they got a VERY nice piece of the pie for some folks who never would have been able to get it except for union work but they didn't drink or dope (mostly) that money away, they put their kids through college or got them into a trade. Bought houses and basically were 73%-(at one time)to now 13% of the 70% of consumers that made up GDP and consumers which supported that GDP.

    Before '08 if you could get an actual job with the Detroit automakers you would start at about $18 per hour which was the tier agreement from '05 now after the bankruptcy's and bailouts you start at $12 and may go to $14 if the contracts are all approved.

    I find it pretty arrogant of anyone who thinks that unions did nothing to make a middle class and that maybe we should still have 8 year old kids working coal mines.

    So now we have 13-14% of the American workforce unionized and, at least as far as car companies go as soon as the UAW is broken down to spit all the Japanese car companies building cars here with imported parts will follow suit. Lower wages increase employee cost for medical and put the whole retirement nest egg into a self contributed plan gambled on Wall Street.

    Unlike my parents (PhD.,MSW, &siblings Lawyer, Masters Education, MSW, MBA)I never went to college spent only 20 years of my work life in a union but because of that union contract when I broke my back at work I had a defined pension to fall back on instead of just being kicked to the curb like the pre union days.

    *Sigh* I guess I will never learn to just let it roll off but working laborers gave so much over three generations and now to have them vilified so is just ugliness perpetuated by them who want the labor at high quality but cheap cost.

  10. I hear it all the time, other people's opinions. It's hard for me to not want to argue my side of the opinion, but I'm learning: I never get in trouble for things that I don't say. And when I do something I would like it to be with loving kindness. Hard, hard, hard to do.

  11. Just found your blog, Syd and am really uplifted and impressed by your journey.
    My mother is my alcoholic and I only experienced one Al-ateen meeting. I really can't remember why I didn't go to any others.
    I spent most of my life being angry, bitter and angrier still and I was in my late 40's before I really had any understanding of what she went through. Now I can say she was the best mother she could have been.
    Just wish she was still here to hear it.
    Thanks for your insight.
    Karen C

  12. I'm with you Syd about the difficulties of being too blunt and yet political correctness or sometimes even tact can tend to squash things that may be need to be said. How else can we learn or share our diverse opinions. I suppose it lies in how we say it and also in how it's received.

    It's often hard to tread a safe-enough line between not going along with conspiracies of silence that deny serious inequalities and abuse of certain disadvantaged people and at the same time not getting your head chopped off because you managed to offend someone in a position of power over you, even in the instance you describe with a client. You then have t watch your words. Be circumspect. at least then you can think about it and write about it here in your blog where others like me can commiserate on the awfulness of the minds of some who seem to lack all compassion for the so-called 'underdog'.

    I better be careful here I might get into a rant myself.

  13. Saw you at my friend Walking Man Mark's blog. So glad I visited here today. This post resonates with what I am learning. . .

    glad to meet you. you are most welcome to visit my blog - anytime.

    Aloha from Waikiki;

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  14. Take what you like and leave the rest. Sometime there is very little to take and a lot to leave.

  15. Beautiful views.... both spiritual and photographic! :)

  16. Practice and desire to grow, I like that... my willingness has helped me learn to speak up, as I was the opposite and didn't speak up for myself and suffered in silence. It's nice to start finding that balance of when to yeild or when to stand up for myself. Remembering and applying principles above personalities is a great tool. Thanks for the great reminder.

  17. Oh my, Syd this is my life too, to "suffer fools without suffering (too much." I have found suffer less when I choose not to give into anger.

    My own or anyone else's.

    I will share my husband's favorite quote, in response to your story of the good man who thinks service should be cheap and break the backs of the under-educated who serve us, "Opinions, dear man, are like assholes. Everyone has one."

  18. 'Knowing better' carries with it the obligation to behave better. Sometimes I get tired of both.

    Responding well to nonsense or unfairness or whatever, is a challenge to humility and tolerance.

    The following excerpt from the book Paths to Recovery made a difference for me very recently. "In humility we accept ourselves as we are, assets and defects alike, and extend the same acceptance to others." I would add: tolerance of others if not acceptance.

    I've found that acceptance and tolerance incite my higher power's involvement in a situation to inform and enable me. Rejection and criticism on the other hand, keep me all by myself and disabled.

    So I'm thinking, maybe the guy's remark was not representative of himself and was his own unguarded reaction to some hell. Maybe not. Who knows? Doesn't matter. What matters are other things.

    I have no choice but to accept or tolerate others because I am powerless over them. Not accepting or tolerating means indulging in reactionary and unsettling emotion and maybe even offense which isn't good for me.

    I appreciate the post very much - thank you... And I also appreciate the simple and memorable and refreshing gem offered by Pittsburgh Guy.

  19. I have also been in hot water for speaking out and telling it like it is until I was given this piece of advice.
    "No-one ever changed their mind because they lost an argument."
    Now, if I think it will develop into an argument, I say nothing.
    Karen C

  20. The question I ask myself is what is the motivation for speaking the truth. I is really just my truth and maybe no one elses.

    Before the program it was sometimes a sarcastic jab just to make sure they knew I heard what they said.

    Sarcasam doesn't work. It isn't the truth now I try to speak with kindness about how I feel this keeps resentments to a minimum.


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