"I learned that even though there
are things that feel like mistakes, that even though life sometimes
feels like punishment, that those feelings are not the Truth.
I learned that my emotional truth was being dictated by my subconscious perspectives
of life, by the definitions of life that had been imposed on me as a child,
by the subconscious attitudes that I had adopted because of the emotional
traumas I had experienced as a child.
Perspective is a key to Recovery.
I had to change and enlarge my perspectives of myself and my own emotions,
of other people, of God and of this life business. Our perspective
of life dictates our relationship with life. We have a dysfunctional
relationship with life because we were taught to have a dysfunctional perspective
of this life business, dysfunctional definitions of who we are and why we
It is kind of like the old joke about three
blind men describing an elephant by touch. Each one of them is telling
his own Truth, they just have a lousy perspective. Codependence is all
about having a lousy relationship with life, with being human, because we
have a lousy perspective on life as a human."
(All quotes in this color are from
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)
One of the gifts of the twelve step recovery
process, of learning to apply the Serenity Prayer in our lives, is that we
start to learn how to take responsibility without blaming - either our self
or others. We learn how to take responsibility for the things we do
have the power to change - and hold others responsible for their side of the
street. This powerful, life changing paradigm shift was in fact the
spark that set off the series of articles I have been writing for this Suite
101 page since my January article.
" In recovery it is very important to take
responsibility while also learning to stop giving power to the polarized blame
and shame of the disease. Therein lies a tale." - To Parents of
Alcoholics / Addicts January 2002
There are so many facets and levels to the
process of making this paradigm shift that I will probably be writing articles
about it for the rest of the year. It is so vital because it changes
our relationship with self and with life - which in turns changes how we relate
to other people.
When I use the term paradigm shift, I am
talking about changing the context, the framework, in which we view life.
Like the quote above about the 3 blind men from my book, if we are not looking
at a larger picture we are not seeing clearly. If we are viewing our
self and life out of eyes that are limited by polarized, shame based beliefs,
then we are not seeing life clearly - we are not seeing the whole elephant.
Our perspective of anything dictates our
relationship with that thing. And our perspectives are set up by the
intellectual paradigm we are empowering - by the attitudes, beliefs, and definitions
that we are holding, both consciously and subconsciously.
That is why it is so important to start
practicing intellectual discernment. To start looking at the attitudes,
beliefs, and definitions that are dictating our perspectives of life.
We can change our relationship with life - and with all the components of
life - by changing our perspectives.
This includes our perspective of our emotions.
Because we grew up in emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional cultures, we
learned to have a dysfunctional relationship with our own emotions.
It is through learning to have some intellectual discernment that we can start
changing our attitude towards our own emotions - and then we can also start
practicing emotional discernment.
I will be talking about some different aspects
of both intellectual and emotional discernment in coming articles. For this
article I want to make a point about how important this process is by using
the example of some basic dysfunctional beliefs that are at the foundation
of our relationship with life. These are the beliefs that we learned
from the fairy tales we heard in early childhood.
We learned that when we meet our Prince
or Princess we will live happily-ever-after. We got the message that
there was a destination to reach in life where we would find a state of being
that is happily-ever-after.
That is not true. It is not the way
life works. You know that now. As an adult, you consciously and
intellectually know that there is no happily-ever-after - if you have ever
stopped to think about it.
Unfortunately however, that belief is programmed
into our subconscious intellectual paradigm and as such, it determines our
perspective of life, of romance, of our self - and thus dictates our emotional
relationship with those aspects of our human experience.
We are set up to feel like failures in life,
and in romantic relationships, because we do not get to reach happily-ever-after.
We judge and shame ourselves because we haven't lived up to the fairy tale.
We blame ourselves - or we blame others for this feeling of failure.
This feeling of failure is an illusion based
upon a fairy tale. It is based upon beliefs about life that are not
true - that have never been true. It is part of our subconscious programming
and the only way to change it is to change that subconscious programming -
and heal the emotional wounds that we have experienced because our dysfunctional
relationships with life and romance set us up to feel like failures.
We cannot do that without looking within.
We need to become willing to start shining the light of consciousness into
the darkness of our subconscious in order to take power away from that which
is in the dark. Looking outside to find the answers does not work.
It is only by looking within that we can start healing and recovering from
the false beliefs that we learned in childhood.
It is vital for us to start awakening to
the reality that we have the power to change our beliefs. We have the
power to choose a different intellectual paradigm to define our life.
That is what working the twelve steps can do for us - cause a paradigm shift
our relationship with life. The more conscious we get about how the
process works the quicker we can make the transition.
We have the power to change the attitudes,
beliefs, and definitions that are dictating our relationship with life.
We can start practicing discernment - picking the baby out of the bath water
- once we are willing to start looking within without shame and blame.
The key to doing this is to detach from our own process enough to develop
an objective perspective of our self.
To use the blind men and the elephant analogy,
this means to realize that we aren't really blind - we have just had our eyes
closed, have been living unconsciously. We can open our eyes and step
back to look at the elephant from a better perspective. We can walk
around it and look at it from all angles. We have a choice to open our
eyes and see more clearly. We do not have to be trapped in the programming
from our childhood. We have a choice.
We lived life unconsciously because we did
not know any other way. It is not shameful - not something to judge
ourselves for. Once we get in enough pain we start becoming willing
to look for another way. That is when we can start to learn and practice
discernment. That is when we can begin our recovery.