Sunday, December 30, 2012

One or the Other: Self Pity or Acceptance

I really hate it that any attitude I take that isn't acceptance is self-pity.  I've tried and tried to escape the truth of this.  I listened to an audio book on acceptance in the car and I'm sure other drivers wondered why the old lady in the old Honda Civic appeared to be yelling the f-word.  I needed to put up a sign that said, "There are just some things I refuse to accept!!!"

There's a whole philosophy of acceptance in the recovery programs.  No one tells us that we have to like everything that happens in life; that we should not have negative emotions.  Where the mistake comes in is when we don't change our attitude to realize that we are not Gods and so do not get to decide what should happen and what should not happen. 

We can dislike 100 degree heat in July but if we keep thinking that it shouldn't be that way and complain incessantly, we're just making ourselves more and more unhappy.  If, instead, we simply let go and accept what is, we become free to decide how to handle reality.  I can get a remote to start my car and get the air conditioning on before I get in.  That way I can stay out of the heat most of the time.  I can put a little ice chest in my car and carry the "cooler" so that when I'm out in the heat I have a way to keep relatively cool. 

As long as I complain, my life is just about noticing what I don't like instead of noticing all the good around me.  That attitude is self-pity whether I like the term or not.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Negativity Diet

One of the benefits of living alone and journaling every day is that the ideas that pop into my head often get recorded - if they seem to be useful.  I love the practice of having whole days devoted to a particular spiritual practice because the main obstacle to my spiritual growth is my bad memory.  I forget that my purpose in this part of my life is to try to enlarge my spiritual condition.  So, yesterday I had what I thought was a bright idea and since it stayed with me until this morning, I decided to record it and try it. 

Central to my spiritual practice is to pay attention to my thoughts since unbeknownst to me, my crazy thinking often dictates my behavior.  What a disaster that can be!  The idea I recorded this morning was to have a whole day devoted to eliminating negativity from my thinking - specifically: 
  • no criticism or judgment of other people.
  • not talking about anybody not in the room (unless it's not gossip).
  • not trying to get my way about anything. 
Cool, I thought.  A really good practice.  Then I remembered that the idea really came from a little 12th Step pamphlet called, "Just for Today."  Well, okay.  Not an original idea.  But still a great one!!!

The fourth thing that came to mind is how much more I need to practice taking responsibility for having a wonderful time every day.  I spent way too many years being a leaf in the wind; letting whatever happened each day and whether I liked it or not, determine whether I had a good or a bad day.  Every morning when I wake up I have forgotten completely who is responsible for having a wonderful day.  Maybe I could tatoo this on the palm of my hand. 

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