Just Say It!

“There is value in stating the obvious. What is obvious to me is not obvious to others. What seems simple and clear to you is confusing to me.”  Teresa Colón

We live in a world where everyone presumes to know about everything and everyone else.  We think we know what the next person is thinking. And why not? We live our lives connected to social networks, email, TV and telephones.  Viral videos circle the globe in the time it takes to boil an egg. We work and socialize with like minded people so we all think alike, right?

My_Wife_and_My_Mother-In-Law_(Hill).svgWe just don’t see things from the same perspective. My past and my priorities cause me to focus on things that you don’t because of your perspective. What for me is ‘common sense’ might not be the same for you. While the article that caught my attention (link below) has its focus more on the business/work environment, it is also very true in any relationship. I can’t read your mind and you can’t read mine so please tell me what you are thinking.  Not telling me will lead to errors in judgement, anger and resentments. You see the young woman, and I see the old lady.

Here in Costa Rica we have teeny ants that appear out of nowhere to feast on even a single crystal of sugar. Obviously you don’t leave the sugar out. But not everyone knows that. Guests in my home are blissfully unaware of the little critters. I try to make a point about this whenever I pull the sugar bowl from the fridge. My ‘obvious’ isn’t yours. If I don’t tell you, you’ll never know.

Ask couples living who’ve just starting living together about the importance of stating the obvious. Hanging the roll of toilet paper with the end over the top seems a no brainer, unless of course you have a cat. Do you take the garbage out the night before or early morning is a question of how adaptive the racoons and monkeys are in your neighbourhood. Leaving the keys in the deadbolt at night might just save a life in an earthquake. Don’t feed a dog chicken bones. I know these things, but you might not because your experience may be very different from mine.

State your expectations. Many a family trip has been ruined because what the parents want for their children is way different from what their children have in mind. An open discussion before leaving on the trip about the various details can resolve many issues before they even arise. There’s a whole generation between parents and children and that gap still exists between adult children and their parents. This makes a world of difference in perspective and values.

It just make things a whole lot easier if we stated what we think is the ‘obvious’ because: ‘it isn’t’.  Human relations are hard enough without adding to the burden by leaving things unsaid, by making assumptions and by having expectations. As the saying goes, when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME. Just say it.

Here’s Teresa’s complete article from Medium.com:

What’s My Part?

How my ego likes to tell me that the things I do are justified. It’s a tit-for-tat world so if you did that to me, then I will retaliate. Of course, I’m a master at being passive aggressive, so you may not know I have ‘got you back’, but I’ll know. I’ll make you pay! You can’t do that to me! I have my pride and I will not take this sitting down!

Wow. I may not have put those words together in my head but that is the gist of what I often feel when I believe that I had been wronged. I have read in our recovery literature that whenever I am disturbed by something that happened to me, I need to look at my part in the matter and at my response to the other person involved.

I remember hearing a fellow talk at a meeting about holding a resentment for many years against a fellow in the program to whom he had lent $30,000. The man didn’t make payments, and as time went on it became apparent that he would probably never have the means to pay back the money. The fellow went on to say that he had to look at what ‘his part’ was in this situation because it was eating him up inside.  He felt anger and resentment every time he saw the other fellow. He had basically given it up as a bad investment, but he still carried a deep grudge against the fellow.  What was his part?

” I lent him the money,” he said. “I knew when I handed him the cheque that he had a history of bad debt, that his track record in business, even in sobriety was shaky, but I lent it to him anyway.” Once he saw his own part in the arrangement, he was able to let go of his resentment. He had made a big error in judgement by making the loan. He was honest enough to admit that he probably won’t ever be a good friend of this fellow again, but he could forgive the other guy and forgiven himself. And he no longer avoids him or refuses to say hello to him at meetings.

In my recovery things will happen that will disturb me, upset me, bother me. My program tells me, by using Step 10 and Step 11 to look at the situation in a way that I see the real ‘why’ I feel the way I do. For the fellow above it was a deep hit to his pride and ego to admit that he had made an mistake. I have to put pride and ego aside as well. Like the childhood saying that says when I point my finger at you there are three pointing back at me I need to shift the focus of my disturbance onto me. I am involved in every interaction with others. Admitting my part in it is a big step in my liberation from the poison of anger and resentment.


To my friends who follow my blog: www.recoveryriver.org A couple of months ago Facebook changed its policy and the blog doesn’t automatically post to Facebook anymore. I invite you to click on the “Follow” button. That way you will receive an email with every one of the blog posts.

Thank you.

Became Entirely Ready

I didn’t give much time to Step Six when I first went through the steps. I didn’t think it needed a whole lot of thought or discussion. I had discovered my defects of character in Step Four and shared them in Step Five. So yes, I was ready to have them removed and move on with the program. I was still, perhaps, in the mode of getting through the steps as fast as possible: quantity over quality.

A couple of years ago I went through Step Six and Seven again with my sponsor. As part of the process I read the book, “Drop the Rock”, a Hazelton Publication. Here I came to learn that I missed two fundamental parts of Step Six when I first went through it. I got being prepared to let my Higher Power remove my defects of character. But I totally missed that in order to have those removed, I had to let them go. And I wasn’t quite ready for the new person that would be created as a result of this transformation.

Going through the first five steps had changed me. I was starting to like who I was again. I had learned to look into the mirror and love who was looking back. I thought I was doing pretty good with the whole recovery thing. And after seven months in recovery, I was. I just didn’t have the depth necessary in order to understand what ‘entirely ready’ really meant. Yes, I wanted to be rid of those character defects of arrogance, perfectionism and entitlement, to name a few. I wanted them gone. But wanting them gone and letting them go? I didn’t realize that those were two different things. I had to open my hands and let those things go. As the book says, I had to drop those rocks that were weighing me down and holding me back.

The other thing I didn’t realize at the time is something that is sort of understood, but not stated in the step.  In the same way that ‘could restore us to sanity’ in Step Two tells us that we were insane, here too there’s an understanding that I am going to be a different person when I have my defects of character removed. This I really didn’t consider the first time through the step. My character was made up partly by those defects of character that I wanted gone, so it made sense that I would be a different person at the end of this. But: I had to be willing to let go of the ‘me’ I knew for a ‘me’ that was new. In this step, I can’t hold onto the old me, I have to release it in the same way that I release the rest of the ‘rocks’ that hold me back and, at the same time, trust my Higher Power and the process of going through the steps would create a new and improved Tim.

Letting go of who and how I am still proves to be difficult. Every once in a while I find another part of me that needs to be worked on. It comes with living the Steps. I must be willing to leave behind as well as move forward. I am grateful that I have many examples of others who also live the steps and I can see the results in them. I know that my Higher Power will do the same for me.