November 13, 2011

The Paradox of "Shared" thinking: Claiming My Own Truth

"Shared" thinking is something that strengthens our power of one, and enables us to feel part of something bigger and to come up with more solutions than just our own.  I think "shared thinking"  is a well-established tool in our program. I believe that I am a part of  such thinking, when I share my recovery story and program work,  and when I respond to the daily readings in our Program.

Each of us is part of this thinking every time we speak and write to share our experience, strength and hope.  It is a program paradox, that I speak most universally when I stick to sharing in the first person, I.  The more specific I am in my story, the easier it is for someone to "take what they like and leave the rest."   In program most of us are careful not to use pronouns that disable our sharing or make our statements too intrusive. Imagine if  I said something like, "We all are damaged goods." You might not think you are damaged goods at all, and might feel I had co-opted your truth.   As for the use of "you"  (which I did just now), more than occasional use of "you" language, can lead to judgment. For example,  "I don' t know why you do that to yourself!" "You" language can easily lead to advice or even "shoulding" on others. 

Rarely, it is appropriate to speak using we or you, but there is a very fine line there. I think I might be walking that line right now!   When I use "we" I might be generalizing, and when I use "you" I might be projecting my own issues onto someone else.  What I have to say using any voice but my own, might not be true.  Whereas what I say about me, is verifiable by me.

The Program literature uses the pronoun "we," and occasionally, "you." I sense this works only because the published material has been deliberately created from "Shared thinking. "  People in Program got together to find out what they all could agree on to provide a foundation for our work together. The Steps and Traditions all use the "We"  pronoun, because we also do this work best together realizing this path is a shared path.  "You" is sometimes used  in literature, but in personal shares each of us does our best not to instruct or give advice.

Program is a Path of shared thinking. It invites me to  use my unique story along with everyone else's,  to create a living literature. This free-form living literature allows each person to discover that they are not alone. It also allows me to have my own opinion on my life and on how our literature works for me. 

I think group consensus used in our face-to-face and other committed groups also is an example of shared thinking. Shared thinking allows greater maturity, innovation, and it values the ideas of others. Consensus technically means that the group "votes," but that the vote is only ratified if everyone in that group consents to follow the decision of the majority.  If all cannot consent then the vote is considered to be provisionary and the group waits until such time as there is complete readiness,  unity of purpose, and direction. 

All expressed is my humble opinion and out-loud thinking.  Open to others' perspectives.

Together we are strong. ~Anonymous


  1. I find when I use "we" in generally and "you" to try to explain, I'm really just struggling with something and not wanting to look in the mirror. I am getting better at catching myself when I do this though, so I just take it one step at a time.

  2. Yes, Simply Me, I like your gentle way of putting it. I am a big user of the word "we," and usually it is because I so want everyone to feel included! And I can also recognize that when I use "you" it is because I am trying on an idea that... I am unsure of... and might not want to look at myself too closely.

    Both ways though I have noticed my audience squirm. When I say I, I seem to step on fewer toes... (or something like that...)


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~