Two Types of Acceptance

Two Types of Acceptance

Knowing what’s acceptable and what’s not, when we should practice it and when we shouldn’t, isn’t always easy.

We’ve all heard of Dr. Paul’s “Acceptance is the Answer” in the book Alcoholics Anonymous (aka The Big Book). In fact, it’s one of my very favorites, and something I’ve arrived to live by in my life. But does it always apply? Even when someone’s behavior, or some thing, is unacceptable?

In my attempt to gain useful understanding around the idea of acceptance, I sought out, and found, a couple of explanations that provided clarity to my question:

Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation.

Acceptance, as defined in a dictionary, is the willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation.

Based upon those two disparate meanings, I came to the conclusion that there are two forms of acceptance, one that’s helpful to practice in every situation, and one that may not be helpful to practice, depending upon the situation.

I apply the first type of acceptance to everything, provided I’m spiritually fit enough to do so. And when I’m not, I usually pay the price by fighting reality. After all, let’s face it: what is, is, regardless of whether I accept it or not. Being angry or hurt or frustrated by it does no good at all. In fact, it usually prevents us from moving past it, meaning we stay in it, even when it’s unhealthy to do so.

But by accepting the situation for what it is, we are now able to ask ourselves “Am I ok with this, as is, on a continuing basis?” If, the answer is no, then we can now move out of the problem, and into the solution. And here’s how I do it…

1. INVENTORY I write about the situation, identifying what’s happening, honestly looking at my part, how I’ve contributed to the problem, as well as theirs, or how the situation is affecting me if it’s not a person.

2. GUIDANCE I ask for some time with my my trusted advisor (sponsor).

3. RESPONSIBILITY I read to them what I’ve written and discuss it, asking for help to dig deeper in finding my part, adding any new awareness to what I’ve already written. I then lightly cross out everything I’ve written except my part, in order to get to step 4 below.

4. DETERMINATION With my advisor, we determine if I should stay in, or detach from, the person and/or situation. We do this by asking the following questions:

(A) If I continue accepting this situation is there a good chance it may be dangerous to me or others? If so, then it’s time to detach.

(B) Have I discovered that I really have no part in this (for example, a young child being physically abused by a parent). If we honestly have no part, again, it’s time to detach. If neither of these apply, we move to (C).

(C) Is there a possibility that my actions, or inactions, have contributed to this unacceptable situation. If the answer is yes, then with the help of my advisor I create and write out a plan of action that includes changes I can make in my behavior, that may effect a change for the better in my relationship or situation.

5. ACTION I then practice my plan of action for a period of one month, keeping a daily checklist in my journal to see if I’m actually practicing my plan of action. For example (A) Send a loving text to my parter each day – Yes [X] No [ ].

6. FOLLOWUP After the month is over, with my advisor, I review my checklist to see how well I’ve followed through with my plan of action, if things are now acceptable, (or moving towards acceptable), and what, if any, changes in my plan of action should be taken.

In the past when I struggled with acceptance, I would blame myself or someone else, and either fight my way through it, causing more destruction, or run the other way out of fear, even when there was no danger.

Today, instead of struggling to accept situations that are uncomfortable, I embrace them, applying concrete actions aimed at solution. In this way I invite awareness, growth, love and abundance into my problems, turning them into opportunities for growth. And when I do that, not only do I build more respect and love for myself, but as an added bonus… ILML!

— JamieQ

How a Group Conscious got me Back to the Right Size

How a Group Conscious got me Back to the Right Size

“Tradition Two talks about bleeding deacon and elder statesman… a bleeding deacon, sits in the problem.. a “it’s my way or the highway” type… (while) an elder statesman sits in the solution… open-minded, willing to listen and accepting for change… (as) an elder statesman, I have a better chance of staying away from selfishness and self- centeredness…the root of my problem in the first place.” – Working the Traditions in your Daily Life, ca.org

This morning I was talking to a member in the program about this tradition and how easy it is to feel like I’m running the show, and I should be, whether it be at work, with my family or in a meeting. But that attitude always ends up keeping me imprisoned in my own misery. Here’s a quick example.

Years ago I started an AlAnon meeting and was quite proud of myself. I decided on the format, how it ran, and most other details. I loved it. But after leaving on a trip I returned to find that when I came back it had changed. Some of my favorite parts of the meeting were changed around. I was told a group conscious had been taken and the group decided to change a few things.

“How dare they!!!” Although I didn’t say it out loud at that moment, later while talking with a friend I complained that it’s wasn’t fair. “That’s my meeting. I started it!” He reminded me that I am just a trusted servant in the program. So as punishment to them all, I chose not to go back to the meeting for over a year. By depriving them of my supreme leadership and contribution, they’d be sorry.

Guess what happened? They did just fine without me. The only one missing out was me.

Today, 15 years later, the meeting now barely resembles the meeting I had started. The time of the meeting has changed. The format is different. It’s even at a new location. About the only thing that’s the same is the day of the week. But you know what? It’s one of the best meetings on Maui, and one of my favorites, hands down. Without me the meeting actually got better. Can you believe that?

Thanks to that lesson and others, I’ve gained a bit more humility along with a deeper appreciation of Tradition 2. I really do want the best for everyone, and I really don’t always know what that is. But through a group conscious, by having the majority decide together what’s best for all of us, the decision that reflects what most of us want is made. And today, thank God, I’m ok if that decision is not the one I agree with.

I’m grateful that learning to be teachable and open to learning is something that will go on for the rest of my life. Because the more willing I am to grow, evolve and change for the better, the more ILML!

– JamieQ

A Recipe for Lemonade

A Recipe for Lemonade

“To truly have a zest for life, you must squeeze all the juice out of it… especially the lemons. Believe it or not, they make life even more delicious. The lessons you get out of them make you strong, resilient, and amazing.” – Jenny G. Perry

I’m not gonna lie to you, my life is incredible. I’m 56 years old, 36 years sober, and I’m a Double Winner—in both programs, Alcoholics Anonymous and AlAnon. My family life is fantastic! I have a successful business, I love to go to work every day, I get plenty of sleep, and I’m in peak health. I have more close friends than I could’ve ever dreamed of, many of whom I would lay down my life for. And I awake eaxh morning and yell out “I love my life!” Sound like I’m bragging? I’m not.

My life is great because I’ve mastered the art of making lemonade from lemons (as Jenny Perry would say—making zest from the lemons I encounter.)

In other words, I’ve learned how to find gratitude in everything. My brother Robbie, when describing the way he approaches life, kisses his fingertips, thrusts them into the sky above his head, and simply says “Thank You.” The secret, I’ve found, is to do this for everything—especially those things that I don’t particularly care for.

About 50% of the time, events in my life do NOT go the way I would like them to. In other words, I don’t get MY WAY half the time. Half the time! I believe this is the reason why I drank and took drugs. When I didn’t like something, when I felt bad, or when I didn’t know how to handle uncomfortable feelings, I self medicated.

And here’s the thing, just because I love my life and things are great, doesn’t mean things always go according to my plan. I’m still batting around 50% in terms of things going my way, versus things not going my way.

Luckily, the program and doing the daily deal has given me the tools to handle it, without reacting or needing to numb out my feelings when I’m not at ease.

But I won’t kid you, the process I use for loving my life takes a lot of consistency, a tremendous amount of dedication, and a significant amount of time invested daily. In other words, loving life doesn’t come without a sacrifice. I could be doing lots of other, really important, things while I’m spending hours getting and keeping myself in the attitude of gratitude, recalibrating my expectometer, and loving life.

The 12&12 says, “… these minutes and sometimes hours spent in self-examination are bound to make all the other hours of our day better and happier.”

I’m not the kind of person that believes everything I see, hear or read. But in this case, I’ve put it to the test and found those words to be true for me. When I invest the time to make my daily recovery rituals the #1 priority each day, my problems get resolved, my relationships get healthier, my finances improve, I physically feel better, and… 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! 

Loving The Best

From page 19 in The Best of Bill it says “Let us always love the best in others – and never fear their worst”.

When I focus on what’s wrong with other people, they look worse, and I’m more miserable. The next time I do that, I’ll stop. Then I’ll focus on the good stuff. When I do that, everything gets better. That’s what I love about recovery, I don’t need to be upset for more than a few minutes each day when I use the tools. ILML

This is a great reminder that when I’m thinking other than loving thoughts about people, it means I’m in fear about something (usually fearing I’m not getting treated how I want to be).

Just because they did something that I disapprove of, doesn’t mean I need to focus on it, or fear it will happen again, or that the consequences of their behavior will hurt me. I’ve found for every character defect, there’s an opposite and opposing wonderful character trait. In fact, as my step-mom, a faithful Alanon always said, “Our defects are simply our assets out of balance”. So, rather than focusing on the defect, let me realize that they are just like me – a little out of balance every once in awhile. This allows me to move from resentment to compassion, opening up the door to see the good in everything. And when I do that, I realize once again, that indeed, ILML.