Master Jedi III

A lack of boundaries invite a lack of respect.” – AlAnonish pin on Pinterest 

Before AlAnon, I had no idea how important boundaries in relationships were. Actually, I didn’t fully understand what they were, or how I could utilize them to create healthy relationships. Even after I started learning about them, I misused them, and created even more problems for myself and others. Thankfully, through reading and a lot of sponsor direction, I began to understand the three important things I needed to know in order to utilize the boundary concept to make every relationship in my life healthy. 

First, I learned that boundaries are for me to discover what’s comfortable and what’s not, with regard to behavior exhibited by myself and others. Through reading, contemplation, help from others in the program and extensive writing, I was able to figure that out. 

Next, I accepted that, if I were ever to really love myself I would need to risk losing relationships with others who, after understanding my boundaries, were unwilling to respect them. This meant coming to terms, and being both ready and ok with losing a job, a romantic relationship, a long-term friendship, or even relationships with family members. I wanted only healthy relationships, so I was willing to take that risk. 

And finally, I worked diligently with my sponsor to discover my part, check my motives, and determine exactly how to explain what’s no longer acceptable to the other party, possible solutions to the situation, what I’m willing to do to help, and the actions I intended to take in the event that the boundaries I explained continued to be disregarded. 

Some of those relationships improved. Some ended. With the ones that ended, I sometimes felt sad, sometimes relieved. More often than not, I felt both. 

A bit of caution ( in my humble opinion): 

Attempting to set boundaries without guidance from someone who has consistently used this technique successfully in their lives will likely result in creating more drama, chaos and misery. Boundary setting may sound like an easy thing to do, but believe me when I say that, from my experience, it’s about the easiest tool you can misuse. 

However, with the help and guidance of my loving sponsor, I’ve became a Master Jedi III at boundary setting, both for myself and others, and through the consistent application of this technique in all my relationships… ILML! 

– JamieQ

The God Shelf

“If I were to chase…each particular worry… I would have business on hand for the rest of my life.” —  12 Step Prayer Book 

But how do we stop? When the worries, problems and scary things are real how can anyone just stop thinking about them?

I must first qualify that I’m not talking about emergencies like swerving in a car, protecting my family from a man with a gun, or jumping into the cockpit of a 747 after the entire crew has passed out. I’m speaking of the typical frustrations, worries and problems that we humans tend to experience daily. 

Accepting that I’m powerless over changing people, places, things and situations, I first determine if there is anything I can do to help resolve this problem, without causing any hurt or damage to me or others. If so, I apply the solution. If I have none, I connect with source and surrender it for the time being, putting it on an imaginary God Shelf, and trusting that my higher power can take much better care of this issue than I can. I’m allowed to visit it later but I can’t remove it from the shelf unless I have a solution that won’t hurt me or others. 

In other words, fix it if I can fix it without any collateral damage. If not, let go and let God handle it. When I fail to do that, I suffer. But when I remember to apply this simple solution to all my difficulties… ILML!

 – JamieQ

“When I focus on what’s good today, I have a good day, and when I focus on what’s bad, I have a bad day. If I focus on a problem, the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases…I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance. When I remember this, I can see I’ve never had it so good.”  – Doctor, Addict, Alcoholic” by Dr. Paul O. in Alcoholics Anonymous

I live by these words. In fact, they are some of the most powerful words (for me) in the Big Book. And they’re not really new or unique. Philosophers and scientists have researched, studied, debated and proven how powerful the mind is (what we think) in manifesting not only positive experiences and relationships in life, but also positive physical health. I sponsor lots of men, both in AA and AlAnon. The ones that stuggle the most are those that have trouble accepting that our perceptions and attitudes are 99% responsible for how we feel and the quality of our lives. Not our circumstances, our past, or other people. And by studying, working and living the program in a very systematic, diligent and consistent way, I alter my perceptions and attitudes, so that no matter what’s happening on the outside …ILML! 

That Wonderful State

“Every person in our life is an invitation to know God better… Through them God intends for us to learn to love…” In God’s Care

Really? Even the rude and ignorant drivers on the road? Even the guy that ripped me off? Even the people who are mean, selfish, judgemental and self-centered? I would actually say yes, perhaps even them more so than all the others. Why? Because they are the ones that force me to make a choice: react out of anger, fear and resentment (and be unhappy), or live the principles I’m learning in the program (and love my life).

If I look back, the people who I felt were the worst for me also were ones that I learned the most from. 

By shifting my expectations of others and having gratitude for what I can learn and how I can grownfrom my relationship with them, I can shift out of disappointment, resentment and self pity into that wonderful state of acceptance and peace where… ILML! 

– JamieQ

Hear my Heart and Love my Life

“ I can begin to listen to what my heart is been trying to tell me…“ – Courage to Change 

Sometimes my brain is speaking to me so loudly that I can’t what my heart is saying. 

For example, my brain may say that I need to defend myself with words because what that person is saying is not true. Or it may say that I need to help that person, even though they didn’t ask for help. Or it may say that I shouldn’t practice acceptance when things aren’t going my way, I should try harder. This is what I might want to consider listening to my heart. 

My heart says to detach with love from toxic people, to not do for others what they can do for themselves, to not offer unsolicited advice, and to practice acceptance, trusting that God has a better plan for me. 

If what’s going on is not life threatening, and I listen to my heart instead of my head, I experience less drama, stress and anxiety, and have a more peaceful, happy existence. And when that’s happening…ILML! 

— JamieQ

From Chaos to Comfort

“… manageabily crept in and replaced chaos.” — The Language of Letting Go 

That was not only true for the past, when I was drinking, using and living on the streets, but it’s still true for today. By using the tools of the program I can comfortably manage things in the presence of chaos.  

Things in life can get chaotic. Finance, romance, people and situations can go from awesome to crazy pretty quickly.  When they do, I have two choices: (1) I can embrace the chaos by reacting, defending and adding to it, or (2) I can use my heightened awareness to recognize that I’m in discomfort, step away from the situation for a moment, and then respond appropriately without being emotional or dramatic. Sometimes the best response is simply to detach. 

By gracing the space between the impulse to react and the reaction, I make room for love. Love of myself. Love of others. And the loving presence of my Higher Power. And when I have the presence of mind to do that—something that comes from consistent practice—no matter what kind of chaos and drama is thrown my way… ILML! 
— JamieQ

Step out of Victimhood

“ I ask God to help me accept my powerlessness and remove my need to control in order to feel valued and loved.“ — Reaching for Personal Freedom 

This is from Step 7, and speaks to me as it reminds me that my power is limited; that real transformation comes from believing in, having a relationship with, and reaching out to my Higher Power. 

It says that our character defects (aka our character assets out of balance), infect my life, destroying my ability to have a healthy relationship with myself and others. I believe that to be true as I’ve seen it over and over again in my life.

I can have more love for myself and others than I ever thought possible, but only if I’m willing to consistently be on the lookout for those thoughts, words and actions that don’t make me or others feel good, and bring them back into line with love and gratitude. 

That’s the reason I’m such a big advocate for taking a daily written inventory—it allows me to uncover, discover and discard that which doesn’t positively contribute to my life or the life of others. It makes me accountable, giving me the power to create positive change in my world by changing me.  

When I’m willing to invest the time in becoming a better version of me, instead of powerlessly wishing that people, places, things and circumstances around me would be different, I step out of the role of “victim” and… ILML! 

— JamieQ