Sunday, March 17, 2013

I Must Do Something Differently on a Daily Basis, if I Want Something Different to Happen

I did a daily Course in Miracles (ACIM) lesson recently – dealing again with my perception of my world. I have discussed aspects of this over the past month or so. My ego really fights me when I try to get my hands around these concepts Jesus is trying to teach.
In the lesson ACIM states: “You perceive the world and everything in it as meaningful in terms of your ego goals. These goals have nothing to do with your own best interests because the ego is not you. This false identification makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for…. At the most superficial levels, you do recognize purpose. Yet purpose cannot be understood at these levels. For example, you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity. What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for. And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.” [W-25:2.1-3; 4. 2-6]
What makes this lesson so difficult for me is the same mental block that occurred to me while I was getting sober and working AA’s suggested Twelve Steps: I remember when I did my 5th Step with my sponsor, a major portion of which was trying to dissect all my unsatisfactory relationships with women. Ken asked me what I thought the common denominator was to all these relationships. I thought for a while and began reciting common physical similarities in the women with whom I was smitten: Kissable lips, pouty mouths, short and well-built, pretty and sensual. He kept shaking his head. Then I went to the emotional similarities: Rather needy, modestly insecure, wanting to be dominated in bed, thrilled at my spontaneity (which I had planned), and so on.
“No!” My sponsor told me. “The common denominator throughout all your relationships has been you.”
I cannot really remember, but I believe I replied with something absolutely profound. I think what I said was “Duuhh. Oooohhh. Yeah.”
About 3 years into my recovery, I ran across a great little book by Earnie Larsen entitled Stage II Recovery – Life Beyond Addiction (Harper & Row, 1985). In it he had this wonderful quote (page 30) that I thought was right on the money. I have never forgotten it. “What you live with you learn. What you learn you practice. What you practice you become. What you become has consequences.”
His quote is such a simple and profound truism for me. It explained so much about my life and all my failed relationships. It also taught me that in every situation I find myself – the issues, complications, and results – there are chunks of the consequences that belong only to me. For those, I am responsible.  This truism shot my trips to my wonderful Pity Pot all to hell.
To rewrite Larsen’s quote in ACIM “language:” “What you live with you learn to perceive, therefore expect. What you’ve learned to perceive influences how you practice life. What you continually practice reinforces what you’ve perceived and influences what you become. What you become influences how you continue to perceive the world about you and how you go about making decisions. How you make decisions has consequences. However, none of this is reality – it’s only your perception.
What I became had consequences resulting in my failed relationships. What I became had consequences in all the glorious trips to my Pity Pot that led to a series of very ill-thought and demeaning (especially to my children) decisions. That led, eventually, to an increase in my drinking and allowed my drinking to get out of control. My out-of-control drinking finally ended with my abject fear of the agony of alcohol withdrawal – whose only “fix” was more alcohol. It was the vicious cycle of addiction. My addiction! My consequences!
How did I begin turning my life around 25 years ago? Well, I didn’t actually. Working AA’s suggested program of recovery took care of that. Doing what I was told, I didn’t drink, I went to meetings, I got a sponsor, I shared, I prayed, I worked the Steps, I did service work. In short, I began practicing all sorts of new behaviors – all with the acceptance and support of the Fellowship.
So, with the considerable help and guidance of AA, I had begun reversing Larsen’s quote: What I lived with I learned. What I was learning in the Program I was beginning to try to practice on a daily basis. What I was now practicing was changing who I was becoming. What I was now becoming was beginning to have new (and better) consequences.
I am trying to do that with ACIM right now (emphasis on “trying”):
·      I go to meetings.
·      I attend a men’s meeting that focuses on issues facing us and allows us to share our experiences in how the principles of ACIM can be used to navigate through these issues.
·      I work on the daily lessons and try to follow the lesson’s suggested instructions. I am trying to “…practice on a daily basis….” If I don’t, how can I expect any new beginnings to occur?
Perhaps this is true for you, too. If you really want something different in your spiritual life, what are you doing differently, on a daily basis, to help that happen?
#3 March, 2013
Copyright, 2013

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