How do you react to the following?
If you will begin to think more rationally and positively about yourself, your life will dramatically change. You will feel happier, healthier, have more friendships, do better at work and do amazing things you may not have thought possible. ~ Anonymous
Can I even think my way out of a paper bag? Nope. Can I sit down and vow to be more rational, more positive and witness my thoughts changing my life into something amazing? Not me. Maybe the author of this is more intellectual, superior to me in the ability to self-direct. Maybe he’s never had an addictive thought or an irrational urge. Maybe dysfunction is a theory to him and he’s not on speaking terms with it. Me? I’m a little tilted. I can explain.
If I try to be more rational and positive, I just end up having an intellectual argument in my head and become divided on the debate. The right side of my brain gets all stymied, frustrated and emotional while the left side speeds ahead looking for word definitions and synonyms. Part of me yells,Stop! And part of me yells, Go!
When Debbie and I were crisscrossing the Midwest teaching communication classes we would often take the back roads instead of the dull interstate. One time a pheasant flew in front of the car and Debbie wasn’t slowing down. Fearing he’d hit the windshield, I yelled, Stop! Moments later a second pheasant followed him on a suicide mission into my side window, so I yelled, Go!
You can imagine the confusion for Debbie. Just try to follow my thinking. Stop—Go, Stop—Go. This has an instant replay value for me when I try to pridefully think my way out of a situation instead of asking for help. I just envision how impossible it is to follow my mind. I hit the replay and listen to the impossible advice per Heidi.
I’ve tried positive thinking. I’m sure there are many good ways to apply that to life, but I never could pull it off. Contrast that with a quote I often hear in AA.
Your best thinking landed you at this table, so you cannot trust your thinking.
I agree. At least, I agree but would add a few qualifiers.
- Not all of your thinking led to addiction or dysfunction, but some of it got you there and some kept you there.
- Your recovery will teach you to become open-minded and humble, so thinking you have all the right answers is part of the problem and not part of the solution.
- Your thinking will generally improve as long as you stay in recovery work
So what do we do if we can’t trust our thinking? We admit we don’t have to do it alone and we start looking outside ourselves for the answers. I found them in the 12 Steps of the AA program. The 12 Step programs teach us humility. I could have refused to humble myself and stick with my own brand of insanity but I was so tired of Stop—Go, Stop—Go. I had to stop.