Today I explore several tools that encourage me to practice Focused Thinking.
I see it in our Just for Todays which, in Emotions Anonymous, are modeled after AA's. In EA, we also have helpful Concepts that explain how to focus and use our meetings, to listen and share. One Concept explicitly tells us that we find our way to healing through focusing on solutions, not dwelling on our problems.
Focus is in the very system of our Twelve Steps, which encourage us to understand one puzzle piece of recovery at a time. I find Steps Four and Steps Eleven to be especially hopeful in focusing. Step Four tells me that I will make peace with the world, and find my real power by putting the focus on me. Step Eleven encourages me to seek the Source of my self-love, to engage in right action in the world. This step tells me there will always be challenges and my Higher Power's will is all I need to, in order to meet them. Step Eleven for me is also been about seeking the source of joy in my life, through a gratitude practice, which I strongly believe is a prayer in itself. The gratitude aspect in my understanding of Step Eleven is also embodied in our Slogan, Look for the Good.
Focused thinking helps remove distractions. In Step Four in particular, focus on ourselves removes the distraction of blame. I learn to stop blaming others in working Step Four and I also learn to stop blaming myself through continually focusing on my faults. Instead, by knowing my strengths and limitations, I can focus on taking responsibility for my part in my past, and begin to allow my role in my unfolding story to change. I believe I need to know my strengths in order to have a more balanced approach to my life. It is not explicitly stated in the basic wording of this step, but I believe Step Four gives me permission to look at those strengths, while also admitting my weaknesses.
Accepting both sides of me, helps me to stay focused as I progress in the remaining Steps. Until I know myself, I do not know when I am giving too much, or giving too little, when I reach Step Twelve.
I think these Steps are a great way to keep the proper focus needed for each stage in recovery. In my deep Winter, I need to first find hope (through connection with an HP), then be honest with myself about who I am... and my part in my "problems." Only after I have some healing, and shared my story bit by bit, let go of the dross (Steps Five, Six and Seven), and woven myself back into the fabric of my life (Steps Eight, Nine, Ten) can I truly be in touch with my Source and my Purpose (Step Eleven). Then, when I do Step Twelve, I know intuitively what is helpful to give away to Others.