November 5, 2011

My Thinking, Is it Realistic?

I find the Program encourages me to practice Realistic Thinking, too. 

For me, Realistic Thinking is expressed in some old-timey Program sayings like, "Emotions are not facts." I agree with this statement, but offer a contrasting perspective that helps to keep me on track. I see it this way:  my emotions are here for me as a guidance system, to tell me how I experience the world. Emotions or feelings are evoked by things that happen to me and my loved ones, and even people distant from me. Personally,  I want to experience my emotions, not repress, deny, or try to fix the "negative" ones out of existence. Program tells me the even good emotions do end. "This too shall pass," is an important example of realistic thinking.

Emotions Anonymous offers its Four A's in dealing with emotional challenges. I propose these as examples of realistic thinking.
I use them in this way: First, I need to be Aware when my emotions are derailing my thinking. Then I Accept my derailment. (No emotion is  a fact, but I am experiencing it and I need to be aware of its source and accept its gift.) Then I take Actions that help me to change my situation and my Attitude. (Some folks use the order differently for their situations).  

The acronym, HOW, is also another way in which to use Reality Thinking. The principles it embodies are Honesty, Openness, Willingness. 

Also, when I speak I ask myself, "Is it honest, is it kind, is it necessary?"  I learned this additional bit of reality thinking,  in meetings.  Remembering these three questions helps me stay "real" as I make  the decision to communicate with someone.  And saves us both more emotional grief.

Realistic thinking was also brought up recently bya program friend. She mentioned a process in which she looked at the thoughts that were revving up her emotions.  By meditating (Step Eleven) she made room for herself to see her thoughts, very clearly. Then she chose one thought to look at. She gently asked herself questions to determine whether she believed it to be true, then looked at her belief and tried turning the sentence around a few times.  

In my case, when my borderline parent tells me something that makes me mad, I still find myself thinking, "She shouldn't have said that." Then I get all righteous and emotional un-sober.    Instead, what  if I pause and ask myself if it really is true that she shouldn't have said it? At first I might say,  OF COURSE it is true!  Well, according to who? To me, of course. The reality is that the universe allowed her to say it. The universe, and our HP, allow free will after all.  So, what if I turn the statement around? Yes, she should have said this nasty thing, because she has free will. Then, I go, "I too have free will and I can choose not to say things like what that turnip said to me." That is the truest statement. Sometimes I go a bit farther and say, "I am darn tooting grateful that I have a choice not to act like her. I don't have to stay angry about her limitations."

Now, that is a sparkling clean version of reality just stated in my example. But this is on application of the realistic thinking I have learned from others on the path. It may not yet be found in our literature, but bit-by-bit we are living literature.

I am quite sure that there are other ways the Program introduces Realistic Thinking into our toolbox, but that would take a book, I think. Meanwhile, I am open to your ideas.


  1. This is helpful, I tend to be very emotional.

    My mother pushes my buttons. I have tried various strategies to make myself "not care." I limit my phone conversations to once a week. I mentally prepare (steel) myself for these conversations. I try not to point out the obvious, or argue with her blatant fallacies. I try not to respond to her controlling and criticism. Like you say, I have a choice..but still it is a struggle.

  2. Lou, I don't know if we can make ourselves stop caring. Honestly.
    My primary program, EA, has as its first step, the statement, that we are powerless over our emotions. Caring for me is an emotion. What I have learned is that the part of me that is hurt by my mom pushing my buttons... and her NOT caring, IS caring and is wanting to be nurtured, loved, respected. So I redirect that caring and put it towards taking compassionate action towards myself.

    I can so relate to your "steeling" yourself for your conversations with your mom. I used to deny my pain, even, by laughing it off too. Well, laughter just made it so that I did not get out of punching range fast enough. Today, I am more humble and I realize I feel pain, and I do not belittle that any more. I do not say, gee I should not care. No, I want to be caring and sensitive, and so I too limit my conversations. I rely on my HP to keep me outside the house at times when my mom might call during the day. I even refuse to answer calls from private caller or blocked numbers. My mom thankfully never leaves messages, and I have decided practicality is "my parent" right now. Practicality helps me to simply say, "If my mom won't leave a message, I CANNOT humanly be expected to call her back." A quiet, private sense of humor helps me to lighten my path with my mom at these times. I don't have to "prove" anything with my humor anymore. It does not make me tough, it helps me to soften the pain of realizing I alone can parent myself.


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~